Review: Island War

island-warBook: Island War (2018)
Author: Patricia Reilly Giff
Genre: MG, Historical (WWII)
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot:  Izzy and Matt arrive on an Alaskan island around the same time–Izzy with her mother, and Matt with his father. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, it isn’t long before Japanese soldiers land and the islanders are evacuated to camps in Japan. However, Izzy and Matt find themselves left behind. Now they have to survive on their own, making sure nobody knows they’re even on the island.


1) I loved this from a historical perspective. I didn’t know the U.S. was “invaded”. So, this part of history really grabbed me.

2) The beginning of the novel (when Izzy and Matt both get used to life on the island) was very pleasant and interesting to read. I particularly liked Maria, the island girl that befriends Izzy. (She also has a super cool name. Just saying.)

3) Then half-way through the book, the plot takes a turn… to more of an Island of the Blue Dolphins vibe. Once the kids are on their own it becomes a survival story. Not only do they have to find food, but they also have to hide from the enemy. (And I love that one particular soldier may not be such a bad guy after all.)

4) The story is told through alternating chapters and POVs of Matt and Izzy. I loved their rivalry and how Giff portrays their mutual dislike of one another. It makes it even better when they have to put their differences behind them in order to survive. I liked how both characters have arcs.

5) I really like the muted colour on the cover of this book. I think it works very nicely for the story inside.


1) Some of the backstories were a little confusing to me. Especially with what happened to Izzy’s dad. I think he’s dead (but I’m not sure… Did I somehow miss that part?)


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – This book is for anybody who is interested in a lesser-known story about World War II. And also for people who enjoy a good survival story.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

8 thoughts on “Review: Island War

  1. Definitely a book I have GOT to read! I was reading about the Japanese invasion of Alaska (island) in an article – how fun to see it reflected in a book.

    Liked by 1 person

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