Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell No matter how many times I read this book, I always enjoy it greatly. It takes after the style of books that are familiar in genre if not in the actual reading: the cast-away, who survives alone against the odds of the wilderness. Yet this book always stood out to me, because while it had so little actual dialogue, it was filled with the simple, down-to-earth ease and desire in many of us to watch this struggle for survival. Stranger yet, very rarely does one read of books like these where the main character is not a man, but is in fact a woman--a girl, in this case. Perhaps it is not so surprising, for this book was based on a true story, and the few perceptible details from the real life of the woman that experienced these things for eighteen years on this lonely island have created only a more vivid and richer experience for those that read about it.

It is timeless. No matter who the person, what the culture, or where they are left--let alone in what condition--when the story turns to a human being against all the forces of nature, it becomes something immobilized in the minds of its readers. For there is nothing in this scenario that we too cannot imagine, though we live far from uncivilized or unpopulated areas of the world normally. It is a situation that while we may never have seriously considered, we as human beings have always been aware of. How and could any of us survive in the wilderness? Let alone completely by ourselves! This story reads so smoothly, so swiftly that one would think you wouldn't notice the passage of time in this story. And yet, from day-to-day and season-to-season, the things that the main character, Karana, undergoes slowly build up in us a sense of a daily and seasonal routine that leaves the mind not with a weariness or boredom, but rather a sense that time is passing. And with time, things come and go, Karana learns, and she survives. She loses everyone, and at some points, almost everything, and still finds a will to keep going.

Yet what is most remarkable about this book is that never has a story been so relate-able and likewise so simple. Karana rarely speaks, and when she does, we are so aware of it because of how uncommon it is! Her culture and people are clearly different from a lot of what we know today, and yet these things come off as believable and do not tire out this story. Does it feel a little dated? Perhaps not "dated" but rather a bit "foreign." And yet still we are able to understand her and what she goes through. From the loneliness and desire to escape, to the drive to protect herself and thrive. To the way she tames the animals around her, and finds that with them, she can have friends and not be so completely the way she knows when it is time to leave, and how she does not miss her island, and yet also does not burst into emotional and exaggerated revelations at the prospect of seeing people again.

This tale is so finite and beautiful, because it does not need any unnecessary trappings to add anything else to it. The smallest details are enough, and what is not mentioned, we do not feel a desire for. It is, in a word: complete. And it is a tale that will bring strange and wonderful experiences to your imagination. I will not say I am in love with this book, but it is effortlessly captivating in a way that few books are or can ever be. Definitely a good experience, and I would say a collector's item that would be worth its place on anyone's bookshelf. But if this style is not the type for you, and you want something with more human-on-human drama (though there's enough sprinkled throughout~) then read it first before you decide on it. This may not be a book for everyone, and I'm sure some might find it too simple and therefore a little dull, but my own personal experience will have me recommend you to read it first. This is a book that has more to offer than you first may realize.