Eight-year-old Finn lives with his father, Pa, and sisters Alice and Daisy on the wreck of an ark on a remote and isolated island.
The last remaining survivors of the flood, they rely on this tight-knit family unit for emotional and practical support.
For Finn, the island and his relationship with Pa encompass his entire world.
But Alice - a teenager growing increasingly frustrated and suspicious of the stories Pa tells of their past - begins despairingly to seek contact with the outside world. And when a boy, a stranger, is washed up on the shore, it appears they may not be alone after all. "The Island at the End of the World" is a deeply unnerving and beautifully written exploration of family, reality and fiction, and the baffling nature of the adult world through the eyes of children.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 22/01/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571240517
Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.
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Review by Clurb
For some reason I had picked up 'The Island...' expecting it to be little more than a fable. It really isn't. This is a story of one family surviving an apocolyptic future with a twist, and is full of the fundaments of real life; violence, death, sex, swearing and deeply-felt religion. Taylor has managed to tell a very brutal and upsetting story with an underlying empathy and compassion to his writing which is very rare indeed. I somehow managed to feel anger, sympathy and frustration for all the characters in equal measure.Through the very different voices of Finn and Alice, and of their father, both the day to day intricacies and the much larger picture of this little family's isolated life are drawn out and we see the children's maturation alongside the degeneration of their Pa. My sole annoyance with 'The Island...' was the phonetic, unpunctuated language used by Taylor to portray the voice of Finn. Right from the start it seemed both superfluous and overdone and not at all reflective of the character's age and capacity for reading. The style was also not in any way replicated in the writing of Alice and simply left me wondering when exactly Finn would make his miraculous jump from primary school writing skills to the measured adult tone of his sister.But this really was the only sour point of the book for me. I found very early on that I cared for all the characters (particularly and instinctively the carefree, lovable three year old, Daisy), I sat enraptured as the plot developed and very soon reached the back cover feeling that the whole thing was pertinent, sensitive and very well done.
Review by deadmanjones
A slim volume with a paper thin plot, this mish mash of huck finn and the tempest wears its literary allusions for all to see and none to admire.The central "modern Noah" premise is not new, but is for the most part well used, creating a page turner by relying on different voices telling the same story, frequently overlapping to great effect.What destroys the novel though is the macguffin plot twist. It announces itself with heavy footsteps halfway through the book, but you'll presume it unfeasible and carry on reading. Sadly, it remains entirely unfeasible right up to the last fullstop, at which point you'll stop forgiving the book for its other inconsistencies. Such as all of the children entirely forgetting how they came to be there in the first place.In a word, infuriating.
Review by klarusu
This is an excellent book and I'm going to state upfront that it's well worth taking the time to read. It's difficult to review, I don't want to go into too much detail as part of its appeal lies in the sense of uncertainty as to what constitutes reality that it engenders in the reader. It is basically a tale of a family (Pa, Alice, Finn and Daisy), who live on an ark in the middle of an island, separated after a great flood that hit modern-day America. They live off the land and do not know if there are any other survivors elsewhere. The book is told in three different voices: Pa, religious, controlling and desperately protective of his family; Finn, a young boy in awe of his father and at one with the land he's grown up on; and Alice, a teenager with memories of the time before the flood, dissatisfied with the isolated life they live. While trying to piece together the history that led to the flood, the reader gradually has a sense that the story is more complicated than they initially believed.This book is very well-written. Sometimes Pa's narrative voice becomes confused - a stream of consciousness with religious dogma interspersed. Finn's phonetic spelling takes time to get used to, but once you are, it really conveys the voice of the young boy. Original and unsettling, this is a book I expect to hear much more about in 2009.
Review by SmithSJ01
It was relief I reached the end of this novel. I’m apprehensive as I have two other Sam Taylor novels on my bookshelves. Here’s hoping they are off better quality. If you aren’t into Shakespeare, The Bible or fairy stories you will find this even more of a challenge than I did. The whole book is awash with these references; particularly (and obviously) Noah’s Ark and The Tempest.The two children who narrate a fair amount of the novel are not that hugely apart in years, yet Alice speaks/writes extremely sophisticated and eloquently whilst Finn (aged 8) doesn’t even write phonetically half of the time. Once you get used to Finn’s style of narration, after say a 100 pages or so, the novel becomes easier to read.Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Finn’s father knew the floods were coming and built an ark in preparation, which the family now live on. Finn believes from his father that his mother Mary died in the floods saving his youngest sister Daisy. Finn is the middle of the three children with Alice being the oldest. The novel revolves around their lives and the father’s unresolved angst till one day the stranger arrives. The stranger, Will, is an interesting character and is everything the father fears. Whilst not being my favourite novel of the month or the year for that matter, Sam Taylor has tried to do something different and clever. Unfortunately I think it’s going to clearly divide readers.
Review by dudara
How can a man protect his family from a flood? Can he protect them from the evils of the modern world? Can he raise his children isolated and seperate from other humans? This is the story of Pa and his children. The book is told initially from the viewpoints of Pa, a controlling, religious man and Finn, his young son. Each character has a uniquely different voice, even down to the poor semi-phoenetic spelling of Finn.This family live in their ark, on an abundant and fruitful island. However, Pa's peace and new paradise is threatened when a young man arrives on their island. To illustrate the change in their circumstances, we now hear the voice of teenage Alice, who has vague recollections of her mother and events prior to the flood.As events unfold, an eerie sense begins to build, leaving the reader feeling uncomfortable and discontent with the paradise in the book.
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