THE ISLE by Jordana Frankel is an intense follow up to The Ward, and picks up right where The Ward left off. There is very little preamble or backstory, so if it’s been a while since you’ve read The Ward, you may need a refresher. However, if you’re fresh off the docks of The Ward, I highly recommend diving into The Isle. By the end of chapter one, you know Aven is in some deep water. And Ren is pretty much chomping at the bit, dying to get her hands on her sister again.
The setting is what really drew me into this book. With global warming being a fact, rising water is not fiction. Who’s to say one day the coasts won’t be submerged? What would our world look like after a massive flooding? I’d imagine much like the Ward. Busy city streets would be long gone, and in their place would be waterways swirling around the tops of buildings. Our primary mode of transport would be watercraft. Fresh water would only come from rain in an area surrounded by seawater. It would be a very different world.
It took a little bit for me to get into THE ISLE, but that’s because of how Frankel jumps right in. I felt a little disconnected from the story until I could get my head around where we were and the terminology that’s unique to the characters of the Ward. After that, though, the pacing popped and didn’t stop until the end. With the story told is dual point of view, alternating between Aven and Ren, it added it’s own amount of tension. Something bad would happen to one of our beloved girls and BOOM, point of view switch.
Speaking of our girls, I totally dig how different Aven and Ren are. Their voices come through loud and clear right from the first page. I especially like the subtle ticks to Ren’s more—urban—vibe. Her dialogue and narrative is rougher than Aven’s, and that is so crucial to getting a feel for the character. There were times I didn’t feel as though Aven came off as a true fourteen year-old girl, but for the most part, I enjoyed her narrative as well. She’s been fairly sheltered her entire life, so it stands to reason she’s not as worldly as Ren, but there were times she seemed a little too mature considering her past.
Frankel’s writing style emanates an ease of tension. She deftly weaves us through a rollercoaster of events, bringing us to the edge of our seats and backing away a step or two before climbing the next ridge of action. The tender moments are heart melting, and I honestly didn’t see the twist until a few chapters ahead of time. Excellent pacing leads to a gut-wrenching final battle with the UMI. The very end was a wee bit convenient for me, however, but I can see how it would be possible.
When all is said and done, THE ISLE is a heart-stopping conclusion to The Ward. The bond between Ren and Aven is truly a sister bond. They are there for each other, through thick and thin, in deep waters and the shallows. The world is imaginative, the villains are uber wicked, and the damsels are anything but delicate. In their darkest hours, they find the strength to do the right thing, no matter the risk to themselves. Teen readers who enjoy stories full of action, fierce friendships, deep-seeded love (of the sisterly kind, not the mushy boy-crush kind), and a not-so-off-the-mark-potential-future-plot will enjoy THE ISLE.