In a world that isn't quite our own, in a place that isn't the South Pacific, a boy on the brink of manhood is on his way home from his ritual one-month exile, in the canoe he has made himself, when a volcano erupts and a tsunami is unleashed that, he discovers when he reaches his home island, wipes out his entire tribe.
Mau's island isn't the only one affected, but it is one of the largest locally, and the place that other survivors gradually gather in the aftermath. The first of his fellow survivors, though, before anyone else joins them, is the lone survivor of a ship from a place that isn't quite our England. She's the daughter of a man who is 139th in line for the throne, on the way to join her father, governor of the colony at Port Mercier. What she doesn't know is that influenza has hit at home, and everyone between her father and the throne has died. A fast ship is on its way from home to Port Mercier to bring him back.
Mau, Irmintrude (who chooses to tell him her name is Daphne, instead, because who wants to be called Irmintrude?), and the other survivors who trickle in to join them learn to communicate, learn to understand each other, and build a functioning new community. And then the cannibals arrive.
This is a really enjoyable, satisfying story. Mau and Daphne each have a lot of assumptions to overcome, but they're good kids, and they're moreover smart and tough and ready to grow up as much as they have to in order to survive and make things work. The story goes in some unexpected places, and while this is intended for younger readers, adults will find plenty to enjoy and think about here, too.
I borrowed this book from the library.