Egg Island is a picaresque, coming-of-age novel about two teenagers on the road towards a mythical place called Egg Island, where reportedly, there’s a hole in the ozone. Julia believes her absentee father is on that island; Colt, whom she meets at a gas station, seems mostly along for the ride. Along the way, they meet random characters who spout bits of wisdom and a turtle they half-jokingly adopt as their child. They also eat cans of beans and tell random stories that seem imbued with layers of meaning about life and existence.
In short, Egg Island is the kind of novel I can imagine English classes mining for lots of rich material for discussion, and book clubs with a more literary bent having long, complex conversations over. Many readers will likely enjoy it. It’s not quite my kind of thing, but I can imagine finding it profound when I was in university, and it’s an engaging enough read that I finished the novel.
But it’s definitely the kind of story that will appeal to certain types of readers. I personally found Julia and Colt somewhat pretentious, but like in a Dawson’s Creek kind of way, in that I was likely just as pretentious when I was their age, and thought myself deep and profound. There’s that kind of youthful existentialism in both Julia and Colt. Julia goes through an entire dream sequence where she grows up, grows old, and dies, and the main takeaway is that she had died without ever having learned the meaning of life. In turn, Colt tells a whole complicated story about a man losing his grip on reality, only to later reveal it was an odd story involving his family.
The novel ends with a fitting sense of open-ended resolution. Whatever change Julia and Colt have experienced is subtle, but their impact on each other seems profound.
Overall, I found it okay. It’s not quite absurd enough to really push the envelope, not quite heartfelt enough to really tug at the heartstrings, not quite funny enough to be truly entertaining, and not quite clever enough to really stand out in terms of literary form. It’s quiet with just enough of an edge that you know the tone the author meant to set. Like I said, I think some readers will find it brilliant, and will find lots of things to talk about in their reading of it. I’m just not one of them.
Thank you to Dundurn Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.