The Waves: an Island novella (#2)
by Jen Minkman
Published: October 4, 2013
As the parallel novella to The Island, The Waves can stand alone. I enjoyed this much more than its predecessor. Walt as a main character is much more compelling than Leia. Also, the concept of post-apocalyptic societies built around child survivors and how stories can gradually morph into restrictive social structures and religions is explored more thoughhtfully here.
While The Island was told from the perspectives of the Unbelievers, The Waves is told from the perspectives of the Fools. The Fools are called so because they believe in the coming of a holy ship from the sea, sent by the goddess Annabelle. They are at odds with the Unbelievers, who live on the other side of the wall and don't believe in the concept of waiting for the coming of a goddess.
Walt's grandfather is a devout believer in the return of Annabelle. Walt constantly receives conflicting opinions about the domineering religion in the Fools society from his dad and his grandpa. As he begins to feel doubt about the existence of gods from across the sea, he witnesses something traumatic that shatters the only worldview he has ever known.
Some of the writing is still dry (perhaps stemming from the fact that this is an English translation from the original Dutch version), but the dialogue is now accompanied by a sense of surrounding and physical awareness of the characters - an improvement from The Island. The mystery of the order introduces more intrigue to the plot and the world.
This novella offers a better explanation about what conditions led to the formation of the child-societies, which aren't all that different from our present time. The only thing separating the world we know now - OUR world, in which "leaders didn't just fight each other, but dragged their subjects into wars" is a biological weapon gone awry: "the weapons they used were deadly to all and everything" (72). Through Walt's perspective, we are offered a clearer realization of what happened to societies born of child survivors left on an island to fend for themselves.