This was a strange, compelling and, ultimately, bleak story. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. When I started reading this novel, it immediately sucked me into its bizarre, dystopian world which just feels a little off-kilter. It lost me a little in the middle, but it’s definitely a unique tale – a quiet drama set against an epic survival backdrop in a strange dystopian twist on our reality.
In this reality, a couple is exiled to a harsh, almost uninhabitable island as a punishment for their crimes. Because of the nature of the island, they have to take a special pill every 8 hours in order to survive the unnatural atmosphere. But they’re counting down the days until their parole, one pill at a time.
Until that day comes. They’re supposed to be picked up and taken back to the main land, but no boat arrives that day. Or the next. Hopes are frayed, and the cracks begin to show in the couple’s fragile relationship, with one believing determinedly in the system and the other considering alternate routes of escape.
The entire book is told from the point of view of Aina. So we only really get one side of the story as trust between the two of the diminishes and suspicions begin to grow. There’s a tense, almost claustrophobic atmosphere that only grows as the story progresses. This is a book where you don’t just not know who to trust, for a lot of the story you’re kept in the dark about what is going on and where it’s going.
The couple’s past and the rules of life on the mainland are gradually revealed, but it still feels a little like a puzzle with pieces missing. This isn’t a book that ties everything up neatly, it’s an ambiguous story set in an ambiguous world, where the reader has to come to their own conclusions.
This book was clever and strangely compelling, but I never felt fully invested in the story. It’s as if the writer means to keep the reader at arm’s length, only showing certain sides to the characters and the world. I didn’t love it, but it did intrigue me – and I’d be interested to see what this author does next.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 3/5.