The Island at the End of the World – Sam Taylor

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I had heard many great things about The Island at the End of the World, with several people stating it was their favourite book published in 2009. I was very excited about reading it, especially after the wonderful author, Sam Taylor, offered to send me a signed copy of his book. I wasn’t disappointed – it was a fabulous little book.

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The Island at the End of the World follows a father and his three children, living on a small island after surviving a great flood. Pa tells the children stories about the great deluge, which drowned everyone else on Earth, but the children begin to become suspicious of his tales when a strange boy washes up on the shore. 

I had worried about the language, as I had heard that most of it was written in dialect, but I found it easy to read. I felt that it added to the atmosphere of the book and helped to slow down the pace by forcing me to concentrate on every word.

Memrys of the talk tween her an Pa come to me as I dig. I try to blank em a way but I cant stop see-ing Pas face wen Alice askt him bout the No-ing Tree. Wat wer his spression zactly. His eyes wer like looking down into no where his brows a V an the lines round his mouth all tight an deep. I make the same spression with my face an try to feel wat comes. The big black bird slowly flaps its wings.

Once I began reading I became immersed in their island world – I was gripped from beginning to end. The plot was original and contained some great twists. All the characters were vividly described and their strange circumstance quickly became normal.

This book also raised many great discussion points about the evils of modern day society and the lengths parents should go to to protect their children. Due to the number of topics raised this short, quirky book would make a great book group choice.

Highly recommended.



Did you love this book as much as I did?
Have you read any of his other books?

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  1. Michele says:

    I’d never heard of this book before your review here. I looked it up and I see most people enjoyed it as much as you. Hmmmmm. Thanks for making sure I didn’t miss out on it! Added it to my wishlist!

    1. Jackie says:

      Michele, I hope that you enjoy it if you manage to get hold of a copy – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  2. Sandy says:

    The prose is interesting! I suppose it would be alot like reading Blindness – you just have to get in the groove. 4 1/2 stars from you is pretty darned good. And you said it was little, which caught my attention as well. I like little!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Yes – it is quite a short book and it flies by! I found that I got used to the dialect very quickly. I’d love to know what you thought of it – it is very unusual, so it is difficult to know how you’d find it. I hope you decide to read it!

  3. Belle says:

    I loved the excerpt you quoted – I could hear it in my head. And the cover – I really like the cover. This looks like an interesting read. I’ll have to keep my eye out for it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Belle, I love the cover design too! I’m pleased you liked the excerpt – I tried to find something which showed how different the text is. I hope you find a copy!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I hadn’t heard of this book, but you review makes me think I would enjoy it. Plus, the premise sounds very interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, It really is a good book. There is a lot more to it than I have written, but I didn’t want to give anything away – I think you need to find out for yourself!

  5. Steph says:

    I have to admit, the thought of a novel written entirely in this dialect style is pretty alarming and worrisome to me… BUT the concept sounds really interesting AND you said that you were able to move past the writing and enjoy it rather than be hindered by the odd spellings. Plus, the cover is so pretty! I’m going to keep this one in mind!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, It isn’t entirely in dialect, but the majority of it is. It takes very little time to become adjusted to it. I know all about dialect becoming annoying – I’ve just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, which was also in a dialect, but it didn’t work at all and really annoyed me. Somehow it works for this book. I hope you decide to give it a try.

      1. Annabel says:

        Jackie – I have to disagree with you on the Knife of Letting Go (and its sequel) which I thought were fantastic ya novels which were satisfying adult reads too – I can’t wait for the final part of the trilogy. It was the thoughts talking rather than dialect in these though – I particularly liked the dog!

        1. Jackie says:

          Annabel, I know I’m in the minority with KOLG – everyone else seems to love it. I’ll explain more when I post my review. I’m pleased that you enjoyed it.

  6. Annabel says:

    I loved this one, but it is definitely one of those love it or loathe it novels. You’ll either love it – for the clever plotting and gradual reveal of what has happened to its family, or loathe it primarily because many chapters (but not all) are written in eight year old Finn’s phonetic speaking voice, where things like changing an ‘a’ for a ‘u’ in ‘can’t’ may upset many, (as may the sexual awakening of young teenager Alice). I hasten to add I found Finn’s language easy to get into – it was a cinch compared with Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban for instance. A fabulous read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I haven’t heard of Russell Hoban, but am intrigued by your mention of him – perhaps I’ll have to give it a go – just so I can test my reading skills!

      1. Annabel says:

        Jackie – for those who are willing to persist with novels written in dialect, Riddley Walker is a superb dystopian novel – set in a post-nuclear war future where Britain has reverted to the dark ages, the dialect is deliberately thick and degenerate but rewards if you keep at it. Steeped in folklore, I loved it.

  7. Claire says:

    As you know, I loved this book as much as you did; thank you for bringing it to my attention. I also found the dialect parts easy to read but appreciate that it may not work for everybody; some people may find it gimmicky or pretentious but I thought it was a great achievement.

    I am looking forward to reading my signed copy of The Amnesiac! The Republic of Trees is definitely going to be looked out for too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I agree – I thought it was an amazing achievement and didn’t feel at all gimmicky to me. I will make sure I read all of Sam Taylor’s other books. I look forward to your thougths on The Amnesiac.

  8. She says:

    Oooo, I hadn’t heard about this one. It sounds pretty fabulous and is now on my list!

    Great cover as well.

    1. Jackie says:

      She, I hope you enjoy it!

  9. Oh, I’ve seen this book around, but I wasn’t sure about it. It almost reminds me of The Tempest – I don’t know why. Being cast away in an island, with no other beings, maybe?

    I don’t really like the cover, but, I think I might actually like the book! :)

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I’m afraid I know nothing about The Tempest, but it is about being isolated on an island.

      I hope you enjoy the book – you confuse me too much for me to predict whether you’ll like it!!

      1. lol, I’m not *that* bad :)

        You got 2-3 of the predictions bang on, to be fair! And you know… My Sister’s Keeper only went on my “like” list, because I have a thing for medical books, plus, it was an interesting subject.

        Oh well…. lol (sorry for the two lols, but I am actually laughing!)

        1. Jackie says:

          anothercookiecrumbles, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have confused me many more times on your blog. Your taste seems really random to me. Perhaps one day I’ll work it out – I do love a challenge!

    2. Claire says:

      anothercookie, he draws a lot on Shakespeare in general in the book but especially The Tempest (I mentioned it in my review).

  10. Jenny says:

    I’m always a bit anxious about dialect – it’s so easy for a writer to do it poorly, and if you as a reader can’t make your ear hear it properly, it spoils the whole book. Alice Walker does it gorgeously in The Color Purple.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I loved the Color Purple! I sometimes struggle with dialect, but it wasn’t a problem for me with this book.

  11. Jenners says:

    I have to say I’m intrigued by the premise of the books. And I imagine that the dialect would be like reading Shakespeare … after a little bit, you get adjusted and it isn’t a problem.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I’m not sure about comparing it to Shakespeare (I’ve not learnt to enjoy reading it yet), but I got used to the dialect very quickly. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  12. Margot says:

    This book interests me. I like the dialect for the novelty of it but I also like the subject matter. I’d like to see the author’s take on what would parents truly do to protect their children.

    1. Jackie says:

      Margot, I do love the parenting aspect of this book. I don’t agree with what he does, but it makes a very interesting discussion point.

  13. Violet says:

    I think this is one of the very few times I have seen you give 4 and a half stars :) Have to add it to my wishlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I don’t award that many 4.5 stars, but there have been a few – I’ll have to remind you of them at some point! I hope you enjoy this one!


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