Jen Minkman’s new novella, The Waves, tells the other side of the story she began in The Island. Walt is the nephew of the Bookkeeper, the leader of the people of Hope Harbor. The residents of Walt’s side of the island are waiting for their Goddess, Annabelle, to come on a ship from the Other Side and save them. This is what they have been taught by their priests to put their faith in. But when Walt’s cousin, apprentice to the Bookkeeper, discovers some documents that seem to contradict the priests’ teachings, Walt begins to harbor doubts. When a ship finally does arrive from the other side, will his faith be broken completely, or can the residents of the island find something new to believe in?
This sequel is much stronger than Minkman’s previous novella, The Island. The view it gives of the other side of the island seems better developed, and there is a solid plot and a good dose of intrigue to move the story along.
Character development takes place largely through Walt’s relationships with his family, which are complex and a strong theme throughout the book. This is in direct contrast to The Island, in which family connections were, by design, nearly non-existent. Here they are deeply affecting, and it’s clear how much Walt’s family has influenced and shaped him.
Another theme, present in both books, is the questioning of organized religion as opposed to personal faith. On both sides of the island, the ideals of the children who founded their societies have become rigid, codified systems of belief. These systems are fragile, falling apart rapidly when citizens are given reason to question them. However, the author presents the notion that a stronger society can develop when faith is more adaptable.
I was impressed with the delicacy with which Minkman handled two threads that could easily have been overdone. First, she addresses the islanders’ unfamiliarity with technology without making them look primitive and unintelligent. The romantic subplot between Walt and Leia also feels authentic for characters of their age and experience. This is refreshing to me, as so many books treat young adult romances with a gratuitously heavy hand.
My only criticism is that the book begins to list slightly towards melodrama near the end, but overall I found the ending, and the book as a whole, to be both intriguing and satisfying.
Title: The Waves (The Island, Volume Two)
Author: Jen Minkman
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 30, 2013)
Price: $1.99 (Kindle, Nook), $7.19 (paperback)
Author’s Website: http://jenminkman.blogspot.com/