Today we’re continuing our blogiversary week with a Blog Tour stop for THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, the sequel to Austin Aslan’s critically acclaimed THE ISLANDS AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, which was named one of Kirkus’ Best of 2014 picks.
The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan
As sixteen-year-old Leilani and her family learn to live without electronics, farming the land as her ancestors did, she finds strength in her relatives, her friendships, and her strange connection to the Emerald Orchid–the force whose presence caused global devastation–but suffers regret over what she must do to survive.
An exciting and satisfying sequel that continues the thrilling ideas and adventure of THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.
Native Hawaiian mythology and history is beautifully intertwined in the story.
An eco-thriller by an expert: great choice for dystopian fans who want a new spin. The author has a masters in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
I love Hawaii. Even though I’ve only been once, it remains one of my favorite places I’ve traveled. My family felt particularly at home there considering my husband is Asian, and we’ve been told our hapa children look vaguely Polynesian. During our trip there, several locals assumed we were locals as well. So I was really intrigued by the idea of a book starring a hapa haole protagonist. Here are five quick reasons I highly recommend THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, book two in Austin Aslan’s THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD series.
1. The setting and star: There just isn’t all that much YA set in Hawaii. Sure, it occasionally makes an appearance as a vacation destination, but this is one of the first YA books I’ve read that was solely based on the islands. Leilani is a fabulous protagonist, and she’s exactly the sort of smart, spirited main character you root for from beginning to end.
2. The diversity: I loved how thoroughly Aslan, who once lived in Hawaii himself, integrated Hawaiian and Pidgin words in the dialogue. It’s always obvious what they mean, and the few instances it’s not, he provides an unobtrusive translation. The characters in the book range in racial/ethnic diversity from pure Hawaiian to haole (white) to hapa haole (like the main character, Leilani) to other mixed cultures. Not only is the story diverse in terms of ethnicity, but there are class issues as well. Aslan also explores Hawaiian myths and folklore in a way I’ve never seen in a mainstream YA book.
3. The subtle romance: I found it refreshing that the romance really took a backseat in this story. Of course there is romance in it, because Leilani is a beautiful 17 year old who grows close to an attractive guy she trusts and cares about, but their relationship is slow-moving, because as she admits to herself many times, there are much bigger things at play than whether she kisses a guy she likes. When the romance finally comes together, it’s lovely and sweet.
4. The family bond: A lot of coming-of-age stories are about orphans or characters who have major tension with their families, particularly their parents. I was thrilled to read a book in which the main character truly loves, respects, and enjoys being around her family. Leilani’s closeness with her grandfather (Tutu) and father were especially beautiful. Ohana means family, as Lilo & Stitch fans know, and it’s a major theme of Aslan’s duology.
5. Thrills: I wasn’t sure how much more I could stand after the events of THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, but Aslan to give Leilani and her crew plenty of obstacles to overcome in order for her to save the world (yes, the world) with her special connection to the alien creature hovering over the Earth. There are pulse-quickening moments when you aren’t sure what’s going to happen, and Aslan doesn’t shy away from showing the catastrophic consequences of gun culture, vigilantism, prejudice, and prepper/off-the-grid ideology.
More about Austin Aslan:
Austin Aslan was inspired to write The Islands at the End of the World and The Girl at the Center of the World while living with his wife and two children on the Big Island of Hawai’i, where he earned a masters degree in tropical conservation biology at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. A National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, he can often be found exploring the wilds of northern Arizona and camping in a tent on a punctured air mattress. In other lives, Austin drove ambulances way too fast, served as an ecotourism Peace Corps Volunteer in a Honduran cloud forest, and managed a variety of local, state, and federal issue campaigns. Austin loves to travel widely, photograph nature, and laugh.
It’s really simple. Just leave a comment here, on Facebook, or on Twitter, telling us why you’d like to win a copy of Austin Aslan’s dystopian duology. Must have a valid U.S. address to win. I will pick a random winner on Sept. 30th, and the winner must respond within 48 hours with their valid mailing address, so they can receive a copy of both books.