Get off the Island

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Some novels grab you by the lapels from the first sentence and then don’t let go. This is one of those novels. Waking up on the beach, Kay then lets out an expletive, one echoed by the robot behind her. It’s precise, short, to the point and slyly humorous. You’re aware that something is wrong and it’s not just the sleepwalking.

The novel puts us squarely in the heads of its protagonists, letting us in on Cee’s worries (fading memory) and Kay’s (guilt over her sister’s death). Kay’s world is more opaque, harder to understand. Global warming and other ecological disasters has rendered many places unfit for human living so people have moved to eco-cities where they experience “life” from stasis pods (think of “The Matrix”). Why experience living when it has proved so…disappointing?

The tonal shift from the harsh but brisk natural world to the sterility of life made better by science is jarring…and you sense that it’s meant to be. It mirrors the disconnect between the sisters as Cee’s faulty memory and black-and-white vision cause her view of the world around her to be as off kilter as Kay’s artificial experiences. The girls are linked and yet separated by society as well as distance, providing the reader with rich, intriguing subtext.