Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

“Storms stir up the past,” (Bush 39).

I was curious about the Hamilton Reads title for 2021. I like Canadian Literature and am always looking for new authors to add to my list and I love Shakespeare and the only adaption of The Tempest I’ve read is Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed (which is fantastic by the way) so I was curious to read another one. I also don’t read a lot of books about climate change, not because I don’t care but because I don’t know where to start, don’t know authors of the genre, etc. plus the subject matter tends to depress me, which of course isn’t an excuse but a reason nonetheless. So I was excited for Blaze Island because it looked like it had everything I would want in a book, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

Miranda Wells lives on Blaze Island, Newfoundland with her eccentric father. They moved nine years ago with much secrecy, Miranda never quite understood the full reason why they moved to the isolated island after her mother died but she doesn’t ask questions. The dutiful daughter, Miranda trusts her father completely and does what he asks of her even if he keeps secrets, even if she doesn’t fully understand why they have to check the weather so closely and why she isn’t allowed to say the word climate. When three Americans fly to the island Miranda’s life is changed as secrets about her and her father’s past are revealed, affecting the other residents of the island as well.

As mentioned, Blaze Island is an adaption of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and I didn’t hate what she did with the adaption. I thought Bush was very creative with her adaption and that the climate change aspect worked surprisingly well with her retelling, especially with the recent forest fires in B.C. and how it’s affected the weather in Ontario. I enjoyed seeing which characters were how and how she modernized them, but while the climate change aspect was interesting it was a lot to take in. With so many of the characters being climate change scientists or experts in the weather it was hard to understand exactly what was going on, I knew it was bad but really didn’t understand all the science jargon around it. And I hate to be negative, I know that Bush’s takeaway is that we need to do better, need to reduce our carbon footprint to save our world and that means corporations too, I appreciate it but in reality it’s cheaper to pollute, cheaper for corporations to produce without care for the environment and I just don’t see that changing any time soon.

Miranda was also an odd character. While I felt deeply for Miranda as she obediently listened to her father and then her growth as she started to question him and her obedience, she seemed to be written much older than she was and I was shocked to learned Miranda was eighteen near the end of the book.

Then of course there’s the fact that the book just ends. I kept waiting for some sort of resolution, not necessarily happy but something that ended but the book just ends and reader’s are left feeling cheated (or at least I was).

The main thing with Blaze Island is that it is so unbelievably boring. There were parts where I thought it was starting to get interesting only to find myself losing interest, waiting to find out why the rift between Sylvia and Alan existed and what happened on the boat with Caleb and Miranda only to be disappointed when I came to those revelations. There were a lot of things that could have made Blaze Island a success but it was too dull to make the point it was trying too. If you want to read an interesting adaption of The Tempest, stick to Hag-Seed.

biPublication: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions
Pages: 365 pages (Paperback)
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction, Canada, Contemporary, Climate Change
My Rating: ⛤⛤

“The time is now or an alternate near now, the world close to our own. A mammoth Category Five hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard of North America, leaving devastation in its wake, its outer wings brushing over tiny Blaze Island in the North Atlantic.
Just as the storm disrupts the present, it stirs up the past: Miranda’s memories of growing up in an isolated, wind-swept cove and the events of long ago that her father will not allow her to speak of. In the aftermath of the storm, she finds herself in a world altered so quickly and so radically that she hardly knows what has happened. As Miranda says, change is clear after it happens. 

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