Rye’s father is appointed as Governor to a new penal colony on a sub-tropical island. His method of governing his new domain is intolerant and unflinchingly energetic – moulding it to his specifications, regardless of custom or understanding.
Rye forms a tentative friendship with Kris, whose father wants him to become as accomplished a practitioner of island magic as he is. Both boys are trapped by their parents’ assumptions that they will follow the same life paths. When Steff arrives with her father, a prisoner for crimes of environmental terrorism, the picture is complete. However, Rye’s father unwittingly destroys the island’s landscape and triggers a catastrophic earthquake, Rye discovers he is the result of a cloning experiment, and Kris and Steff rebel against their parents’ expectations in order to break outmoded and destructive moulds.
Comparisons with Louis Sachar’s Holes bear fruit but this is an original thought-provoking story, powerfully and graphically written, which memorably warns of the consequences of blindly following tradition at the expense of communal well-being.