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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/05/2008 Entry: "Book review: The Lost Island of Tamarind"

The Lost Island of Tamarind
Written by Nadia Aguiar
Published by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN-10:  0312380291
ISBN-13:  9780312380298

Review by Jilly Gee

For a long time Maya had believed there was nothing better than life on the open ocean, sailing from port to port on the warm trade winds that blew across the Atlantic Ocean.

Maya used to love her life on the Pamela Jane, the boat her family calls home.  Her parents, marine biologists, would show their children things other children could only ever imagine, such as the barnacled side of a whale, and teach their children things other children did not learn on land, such as how to rig a fifty-two-foot schooner.  As a restless thirteen-year-old, however, Maya is not content with this lifestyle anymore; she wants to live with Granny Pearl on stable land and go to school with other kids her age and form friendships not limited to her nine-year-old brother, Simon, or eight-month-old sister, Penny.  When an unusual storm separates the three children from their parents, though, Maya finds herself longing for those days on the Pamela Jane.  Mami and Papi nowhere in sight, the children leave the boat and wander around on the strange island the Pamela Jane has come to.

The Lost Island of Tamarind is a grand children's adventure, the children's journey leading them through man-eating vines, jaguars, pirates, mermaids, evil monkeys, and other such fantastical things.  Forced to take on an authoritative role in the absence of parents, Maya makes crucial decisions, sometimes good, a lot of times bad.  Each of these problems is an exciting adventure in and of itself, moving the story along at a nice pace; the children never spend so long in one particular adventure that it drags and the next one is always just as, if not more, exciting than the last.  Even though there are all these mini adventures, it is not exactly an "episodic" story.  The children always have the goal of finding their parents at the forefront of their minds and the small adventures actually all stem from a larger conspiracy, the secret her parents had been studying as marine biologists.  Fantasy and scientific conspiracy?  Yay!

While I did enjoy most of the characters and plots, I have a problem with Evondra, who was an intriguing and frightening enemy, but whose backstory was so bland that she was actually more interesting without it.  I would say that her exit from the story was bland as well, except that not only does the novel itself hint at a sequel, listings for the book indicate that it is "volume 1", so perhaps the exit was not an exit at all.  Even if it is, that doesn't stop me from looking forward to the sequel, more of Maya's adventures, and more about that secret project.

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