Four nearly identical girls living with their teachers on a tropical island have difficulty getting along with a new girl who seems different from them in this unusual and enigmatic science-fiction outing.
Written entirely from the point of view of one of the island girls, Veronika, the simple prose slowly reveals who—or what—the girls might be. At first glance, the only difference appears to be hair color, but each turns out to have a different focus. They spend their days learning in their classroom from adults Robbert and Irene and taking observational walks. The girls look closely at everything they see, describing it all when they return. Robbert strives to hide the girls from any outside eyes and makes sure they don’t get wet. Things go awry when Veronika discovers May washed up on the beach, apparently the survivor of a shipwreck. Once she recovers from her injuries, May rejects the four girls and flees, but when an outside danger intrudes, it’s May who steps up to save them. Dahlquist trusts his audience to notice his sparse but clear clues in order to decipher the true differences between May and the four island girls, and astute readers will have little difficulty with his scenario. The author never reveals why the girls are hidden away and what their purpose might be, leaving that to readers’ imaginations.
Most intriguing. (Science fiction. 12 & up)