A WORLD ON THE ISLAND’S EDGE is the first book in the Golden Dolphin series and follows Andi, a twelve-year-old girl living on an island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Andi has the weight of the world on her shoulders in the form of her grandmother’s dementia, her twin brother’s autism, and what will happen to all of them if others begin to discover that Andi is keeping the family together on her own. Things change rapidly, however, when Andi is beckoned to rescue and protect a golden dolphin by its dying mother. She soon discovers the dolphin, Lux, is much more than even meets the eye, and his otherworldly abilities increase the stakes of the tale even more by bringing new characters—and a dark, sinister force—into the lives of Andi and her friends.
The novel’s concepts are far-out, which many children will enjoy, especially because the author doesn’t hesitate to bring readers into his fantastical world. In this way, there are moments where the story is reminiscent of classic children’s fantasy novels like A Wrinkle in Time. However, it is also difficult to make these kinds of comparisons because the story isn’t told very smoothly. Clunky syntax and awkward dialogue hold back what is otherwise a fascinating story, and because of this, some readers might struggle with the book.
However, the tale itself is both inclusive of different types of people and ultimately focused on the theme of love, two concepts that are extremely effective and highly necessary in children’s books. Everyone in Andi’s world is dealing with their own demons, desires, talents, and shortcomings, and in this way, a rich tapestry of the diversity of human existence is seen through the course of the novel. Even Lux, the magical dolphin, has his own fears, flaws, and voice, which work to add complexity to his character.
The novel provides readers with a resolution, but also with lingering questions, which create a satisfactory beginning for a series. All in all, Reynolds crafts a fascinating world and complex characters to match it, although a stronger edit in the next installment would likely be helpful.
A WORLD ON THE ISLAND’S EDGE is a tale of diversity, magic, and wonder that, despite some technical hiccups, will delight many young readers.
~Julia Tilford for IndieReader