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November 29, 2013 / Leslie

Review: Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles

LighthouseIsland-printLighthouse Island
by Paulette Jiles
Narrated by Kevin T. Collins

Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia
Publisher: William Morrow / Harper Audio
Format: Print: 400 pages / Audio, 14 hours | 21 min
Publish Date: October 8, 2013
Audio Listening Level: Difficult
Rating: 3 of 5

From the Publisher:

In the coming centuries, the world’s population has exploded and covered the earth with endless cities. Animals are nearly all gone. Drought plagues the land and cloudy water is issued by the quart. There are no maps, no borders, no numbered years. On this urban planet the only relief from the overcrowding, the petty informers, and the harsh rule of the big Agencies is the television in every living space, offering dreams of vanished waterfalls and the promise of virtual vacations in green spaces for the lucky few.

My Thoughts:

Nadia, a young woman orphaned at age four, is obsessed with finding her way to Lighthouse Island, a place in the Pacific Northwest that may or may not even exist. Along the way she meets James, a mapmaker and demolition expert, who helps and then later accompanies her on the dangerous journey north.

I enjoy a good dystopian tale and this story had a lot of the elements I like, particularly world building that takes current issues – overpopulation, climate change, government control – and postulates a scary future society. Water is rationed, dates are no longer used, maps have becomes meaningless, people can be arrested or jailed for any reason the government dreams up, especially if they need cheap labor in the work camps, and executions are televised live on reality TV – the more attractive one is, the greater their chance of being the feature presentation.

There was much to like about the premise of this speculative world but unfortunately I had a difficult time getting through it. The pacing was slow and often disjointed and, a big problem for me, a lot of veering off into stream of consciousness and rambling detail. This made it difficult for me to connect with or even care about Nadia. James was a much more interesting character but far less developed. At times I was glued to the book eager to know what would happen next, other times it dragged and I didn’t pick it back up for a few days.

I started by listening to the audiobook but about half way through I gave up and switched to the print version. The writing style made the audio difficult to follow but I also didn’t like the style of the audio production. The narrator, Kevin T. Collins, used a breathless urgency for the narrative and overly dramatic tone for the characters. I didn’t have a problem with his voice, it was mainly the style that didn’t work for me.

Upon switching to print I had another problem: No quotation marks around the dialog. I find this annoying and it slows down my reading and I read slow enough as it is. I don’t like to work this hard to read a book but I was involved enough in it to want to know the ending. And wouldn’t you know it when I got to what I thought should be the end, the plot twisted and we went off in another direction. I was glad to finally finish this one. I would have ended it 75 pages sooner.

I liked it but I thought it could have been much better.

Source: Review copies provided by Harper Collins.
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Nov 29 2013 8:20 pm

    Yikes! This one probably isn’t for me.


  2. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) / Dec 2 2013 2:53 pm

    I think I’ll skip this one. The lack of quotation marks would drive me nuts, and I also found another of Jiles’ books to be just okay.


    • Leslie / Dec 2 2013 7:42 pm

      I don’t understand the lack of quotations. It doesn’t add anything only serves to slow the reader down.



  1. Review: Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles | Todd DeanTodd Dean

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