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Hannah, Faringdon Community College

Where the World Ends

Book review: Where the world ends, by Geraldine McCaughrean

This book, written by Geraldine McCaughrean and based on a true story is a great read.
Once a year, Quill, his friends and some adults from the village back on Hirta travel to and camp on a remote sea stack for a few weeks to hunt birds like puffins and garefowl. These people who went to hunt the birds are called fowlers. The sea stacks are huge, towering columns of rock in the middle of the sea, with no settlers on. Unfortunately, a few weeks turn into months as the fowling party realise they have been left, abandoned by their village. They are stuck on this unwelcome, dangerous rock. This is no lovely place for a camp. It is a huge, tower of rocks in the middle of the ocean. But they have no boat to sail home on and so the book is about how they survive so far away from home, on such a remote stack that does not always have the most in way of food or shelter.

'Where the world ends' really represents what the sea stack is. Without contact from the surroundings outside the sea stack, who knows what has happened to the world- it really could have ended. There is no way for those fowlers to prove that the world has ended- or to prove that it hasn't and to them it makes little difference, unless someone is going to rescue them all.

With no connection to the outside world nobody knows why they have not been collected- and if they are going to ever be picked up by a boat. On this journey, Quill and the other boys and men learn more about each other as well as their surroundings. While back on the mainland they could avoid each other if they so wish, here they are forced into each other's lives. This means they don't only have to worry about surviving on the sea stack- they have to survive each other's company too.

With all the campers being wildly different characters emotions are always running high- hope, fear, anger and guilt. Half the battle in the story is all of these people not knowing when and why they have not been collected and the ways they cope with this.

I really enjoyed this book. The fact that it was based on a real story, based in a real place makes it even more real. Of course the story has been twisted and bent to make it more interesting as a story but it is a fact that a group of fowlers were genuinely abandoned on a remote sea stack near the cluster of Islands of St. Kilda in Scotland. It sounds like it could be a boring book- it is a small cliff, what can happen on an area so small?, many will ask. But the book isn't boring by any means. The group are frequently facing problems- they disagree with each other, they run short of food and there are many twists and turns throughout the book. There are many surprises- good AND bad.

The characters are all really well described, they are all so different. The author really knows how to make you hate some characters and love others. Also, the descriptions are really atmospheric, beautiful and sometimes terrifying, making you glad that you are actually sat in your house- not on that sea stack with the fowlers.

This was a brilliant book. It was really hard to put down as you wanted to know that these fowlers would be O.K. It was, overall a great read and definitely a story I would recommend to others, especially if you love the sea.

Of course, there still remains the question from the very start of the book: do they survive, do they escape the sea stack?
Well, as I had to wait and read to find out and how those bird hunters had to wait to find out if they were going to escape the sea stack, you must wait to find out- or at least wait until you've read the book.

Posted on: 1st May 2018 at 03:36 pm

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