Four girls are on an island, and they have been there for as long as they can remember, living in isolation with their teachers Irene and Robert. Veronika, Isobel, Eleanor and Caroline are exactly alike: same size, same weight, same temperament. The only way to tell each other apart is by their hair: Isobel’s is yellow, Caroline’s is brown, Eleanor’s is black and Veronika’s is red.
One of the truly fascinating things about this book was the puzzle it presented. Dahlquist doesn’t come out and say that these four girls are some sort of robot. Or that this world is some sort of dystopian place. Rather, he put clues — a click behind the ear when the girls go to sleep; an aversion to water; how their hair has to be in the sun — throughout the book in order to not only clue the reader in on the world, but to give us a sense of how these girls view themselves.
Especially once a real, live girl — May — is shipwrecked on the island. She brings with her questions, ones that Veronika, our narrator, can’t answer. And when an outside ship comes to the island, it’s up to May and the four girls to figure out how to keep safe.
It takes a really unique premise to get me hooked these days, especially when it’s a dystopian/apocalyptic world. And this one did it. I loved the robot narrator, I loved the questions that the book presented, I loved that the world was implied but never fully explained.
I think this is one that will stay with me for a while.
Rated: Mild for some brief, mild swearing