I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
So here's the thing about this book: in some ways, it's really very good. The descriptions are amazing - while reading it, I felt like I was actually there on the various islands. I felt that this was a really creative way to write a coming of age story (though, to be honest, I didn't really feel like the characters really grew that much, especially not the narrator). I liked that it's in a setting that's not very frequently used, at least in books that are published in America, and I like that even though it's set during World War II, that wasn't the main focus of the book - although I'm a history major and a huge fan of reading about historical events, I think it's interesting to have historical fiction novels that aren't wholly focused on historical events. So this novel does have some really great qualities.
But here's the problem: it's just so boring. It's a short book - only 200 pages - but I think that, with some thorough editing, it could easily be cut down to around 100. I had to force myself to read it and frankly, if it weren't for the fact that I was reading it for my young adult literature class, I probably would not have finished it. That being said, this book is clearly not targeted for women in their twenties - it's definitely more suited for teenage boys. It's very possible that teenage boys might find this book to be an amazing adventure/nature/survival story (which is why I plan to encourage my thirteen year old brother to try this during my Thanksgiving break). But for me, this just was not a very compelling read.
On top of the fact that this book is just plain boring, there were certain parts of it that I just felt were not executed well at all. I didn't like the fact that even though there's a journey, there's not really a point to it - it's merely survival. There's not an ultimate goal, at least not one that the boys came up with, except to survive. Even when they have somewhat of a goal (to take their mentor to the island where he feels he's destined to die), Napu and Joseph have no goal beyond reaching this island. I really disliked the whole Spirit of the Voyage thing. I realize that this ties in with Polynesian culture, but I found it hard to believe that Joseph, a white teenage boy from Massachusetts, could so easily accept the directions of a spirit, especially while Napu, a boy who grew up in Polynesian culture, was so skeptical about the whole thing. I really didn't like Kiki, simply because I felt that he was a pointless character - he served no purpose in the story.
I think that teenage boys would really like this story, but as a college student who's reading this book in a literature class (and heck, just as myself), I disliked this book. It's a good concept, but in my opinion, very poorly executed.