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The Isle: 07/19/16

The Isle by Jordana Frankel

The Isle by Jordana Frankel is the sequel to The Ward. Ren and Aven have survived their ordeal in the Ward but now they are separated. Aven, having been cured by hidden spring has engendered the ire of both the governor and the Tètai, the guardians of the spring.

In The Ward the chapters are marked by the day and time, counting down to the amount of time Aven has left given the severity of her illness. This book does the same but there isn't the immediate need to race against the clock. Yes, the different sides are circling around the spring but they could have just as easily reached a stalemate. The countdown is one of narrative convenience than necessity.

The story this time is told from alternating points of view: Ren and Aven's. In the first book we come to know Ren intimately. She is the first person narrator. Here because Aven is recovered she gets her own first person perspective chapters. This does allow the narrative to cover more ground but narrationally, it's unnecessary.

You can read the book as written. Or you can skip Aven's chapters as everything that happens in them is relayed into Ren's. The Isle despite the parallel chapter structure is still Ren's story.

I read The Isle as a follow-up to The Ward because of it's location and it's dystopian rendering of New York and Jersey City as drowned cities. In a world where the starting points of the classic road trip narrative are underwater, there can be no escape. The city becomes a prison.

The means of egress from the Ward to the Isle where the wealthy live away from the brack and the threat of the virus (though it does exist here too) is through the old tunnels once used by cars or once used to carry water. But crossing the water to the old mainland isn't really much of a road trip and there's little sense of a world that exists beyond these two flooded cities.

As there is no outside threat to these two cities, The Ward and The Isle can't really count as "the road not taken" stories. The threat instead is a one that was manmade, one that took advantage of a natural disaster to put an already vulnerable population in a situation they could not escape from. It was population and resource control.

Three stars

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