Literary Merit: High
Recommendation: Highly recommended
See Goodreads' entry for a summary of the book.
This is a spectacular book. It is action-packed, thrilling, mystical, and will keep you guessing until the end. The plot is well-written and perfectly paced. The dialogue is unique to the locale and really authentic. The use of Hawaiian myths and folklore in the plot is simply outstanding. Aslan really knows his stuff. The characters are complex and interesting, especially Leilani, the protagonist. She is half-white and half-Hawaiian, but she identifies strongly with her Hawaiian heritage. Lei is also an epileptic, and if she misses her medication or ingests too much aspartame she will have violent seizures. It was really amazing meeting a character as diverse as Leilani!
There are a couple of things that may turn some readers away from the book: there is no romance, no love triangle, no love interest at all; the frequent use of the native Hawaiian language. Frankly, I loved both of these things. It was extremely refreshing to not have a main character whose thoughts were all about the love interest. The well-integrated use of the Hawaiian language and folklore was also so interesting. I am a lover of languages, and while I found it hard to determine the meaning of some words from context clues, it just made me feel even more immersed in the story.
Aslan's debut is a blockbuster film in the making. Fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and sci-fi novels like Lynne Matson's Nil and Jessica Khoury's Origin will love this book.