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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Girl At The Center Of The World Blog Tour {review}

I'm excited to have The Girl At The Center Of The World Blog Tour stopping by today with my review...

The Girl At The Center Of The World
(Islands at the End of the World #2)
by Austin Aslan
August 14, 2015
Random House
As sixteen-year-old Leilani and her family learn to live without electronics, farming the land as her ancestors did, she finds strength in her relatives, her friendships, and her strange connection to the Emerald Orchid--the force whose presence caused global devastation--but suffers regret over what she must do to survive.

An exciting and satisfying sequel that continues the thrilling ideas and adventure of THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Native Hawaiian mythology and history is beautifully intertwined in the story.

An eco-thriller by an expert: great choice for dystopian fans who want a new spin. The author has a masters in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

The Islands at the End of the World
by Austin Aslan
Wendy Lamb Books
Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I...
Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she's an outsider - half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.
While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.
A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Praise for the series

Kirkus starred review, May 15, 2014:
“A suspenseful and engaging series opener made all the more distinctive through its careful realization of setting.”

School Library Journal starred review, June 2014:
“Aslan’s debut is a riveting tale of belonging, family, overcoming perceived limitations, and finding a home.”

Publishers Weekly starred review, August 15, 2014:“Debut author Aslan shows off his promise as a writer, delivering a fresh, of-the-moment take on apocalyptic fiction […] it’s an exceptional adventure and survival story that’s intimately tied to its setting.”

Picking up a few months after the events in book one, The Girl At The Center of the World finds Leilani and her family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Without electricity, people are forced to revert to a simpler way of living: farming, foraging, and hunting. Tucked away in the hills, Leilani, her family, and neighbors have formed a tight community and work together to survive. But dangerous gangs roam the island and meteors fall from the sky. Leilani’s mysterious connection to the Emerald Orchid in the sky prevents the total destruction of the world, but there are those who would stop at nothing to control that connection.

Last year, Austin Aslan enthralled and greatly impressed me with The Islands At The End Of The World, and this sequel proves to be just as smart, thrilling, and entertaining. Aslan continues to combine fresh, complex sci-fi, dystopian, and very real scientific elements to create a captivating and thought-provoking world, and he effortlessly intertwines exciting fiction with his fascinating knowledge and expertise. This sometimes violent, harsh, backbreaking post-apocalyptic Hawaii is wonderfully and believably portrayed and laid out. But amidst all the darkness in this world, Aslan once again paints a stunning, lush, and vivid portrait of Hawaii.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Leilani, her family, and friends. Aslan does a great job of making these characters feel very real and relatable. Readers will root for these characters, celebrating in their triumphs and mourning their losses and feeling their pain. And I found the Emerald Orchid and her baby to be such complex, unforgettable characters in their own right. Some of my favorite moments in the book, are those between Leilani and the beautiful creatures in the sky, which Aslan describes with breathtaking prose.

New and old, dangerous foes arrive, sending Leilani and readers on an edge-of-your seat thrill ride, full of twists and turns, shocking revelations, and heartbreaking losses.

my final thoughts: With its smart plotting, complex world-building, engaging characters, and thought-provoking premise, The Girl At The Center of the World is a satisfying and excellent sequel.

4/5 yummy cupcakes

Austin Aslan was inspired to write his debut novel, The Islands at the End of the World, while living on the Big Island of Hawaii. He earned a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. His research on rare Hawaiian plants located on the high slopes of Mauna Loa won him a pair of destroyed hiking boots, a tattered rain jacket, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He lives outside Tucson, Arizona, deep in the Sonoran Desert, where he pets scorpions and hugs saguaro cacti with his high-school-sweetheart wife and their two young children. Austin is pursuing a PhD in geography at the University of Arizona and thinking up new stories while conducting ecosystem resilience research atop the Peruvian Andes. 

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