Like every child in Is-Land, all Astra Ordott wants is to have her Security Shot, do her National Service and defend her Gaian homeland from Non-Lander ‘infiltrators’. But when one of her Shelter mothers, the formidable Dr Hokma Blesser, tells her the shot will limit her chances of becoming a scientist and offers her an alternative, Astra agrees to her plan.
When the orphaned Lil arrives to share Astra’s home, Astra is torn between jealousy and fascination. Lil’s father taught her some alarming ideas about Is-Land and the world, but when she pushes Astra too far, the heartache that results goes far beyond the loss of a friend.
If she is to survive, Astra must learn to deal with devastating truths about Is-Land, Non-Land and the secret web of adult relationships that surrounds her.(synopsis from Goodreads)
Overall Impression: There was an interesting concept here that just wasn’t executed very well. The plot was bogged down with unnecessary scenes and exposition, and would have been better as a stand alone novel rather than the series it apparently is going to be.
Recommended for: Readers interested in environmental issues and post-apocalyptic literature
The world that Foyle has created is interesting in that it addresses many current environmental issues that we are facing and what could potentially happen if we don’t start making changes now. Basically, the world has gone through a semi-apocalypse in which humans have ruined the Earth. Groups of people who refer to themselves as Gaians work to help the Earth become what it used to be by living in a highly environmentally conscious way that involves renewable energy and apparent veganism. (At least it sounds like veganism, but it’s not completely clear.) It seems that the Gaians have been working with the government to not only help restore the Earth but to also keep those who would go against the government and Gaian ideals out of the safe oases they have created. It’s a little difficult to explain, but hopefully that makes some sense.
This book definitely touched on some important issues about the environment, and a little bit about the terrors of total government control, however, I felt that it got a little preachy at times. The action was very slow throughout the book, and there were times when I just wanted the narrative to move a little faster. There was almost too much world building going on in this book, and there were huge sections that just acted as info dumps for the reader that would have been just as effective if they were woven into the plot. Because of these sections, I sometimes felt that I was being beaten over the head with a lot of ideas, many of which I couldn’t totally keep track of. This book touched on a lot of things, and it probably would have helped if only two, maybe three, were the main focus. Instead, there are like six issues that it tries to examine which is just too much. This was my main complaint about the book.
I also thought that too much of the book was about Astra’s young life. I would have liked to see the majority of the book be about her teen years since this is where the plot really starts to take off. While the first two sections are good for providing background and such, these could have been greatly reduced, and much of it could have come from reflections on her past when she is a teen. I believe that this book is going to be the first in a series, since the Goodreads page mentions that it is the first in The Gaia Chronicles, however, I believe that this book could have easily been a stand alone novel. I believe the story is stretched out more than it should be, and that makes this a rather slow read despite the fact that it’s not very long.