Ila’s Story is a young adult novel, written by Susan Korman (published by Titan Books), and based on the screenplay for the film Noah, which was written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel.
Ila’s Story focuses on the sequence of events of the film Noah as seen from Ila’s point of view, who in the film, which comes out at the end of March, is played by Harry Potter actress Emma Watson. The novel begins with Ila as a child, and takes the reader straight into a sequence of dramatic action, where Ila is left alone after some raiders have attacked her home and killed her family. Ila is rescued by Noah and his family, who take her into their family. Ila is wounded, and the family nurse her back to health, and she quickly becomes close to Noah’s son, Shem.
Skip ahead to ten years later, and Ila is nineteen, married to Shem, and still a part of Noah’s family. Her greatest concern is that she cannot give Shem everything he wants, because she cannot have children. The family is preparing for the ark to sail, and conflict comes from the surrounding army, watchers, and Ham’s desire for a wife. The action moves along quickly, with the ark being built, in anticipation of the floods, and the groups of animals arriving to board the ark. The floods soon arrived, as promised, and Noah and his family are confined to life on the ark. The pace of the story here moves rapidly, towards the climax of the tale.
Ila is a likable character, and well rounded. Although she exists in a world far different from the modern day, many of her concerns are relatable, as she worries about Shem’s affection for her, and her grief for her lost parents. At times, it would have been nice for the character to have been developed further.
The story is obviously heavily based on biblical details, and so the content may be familiar to many readers, but the story is richly woven with description and characterization that does not make this knowledge necessary. For those readers whose knowledge is sketchy, characters and their relationships are well explained and set out. For some readers, however, this might grate or feel uncomfortable.
Although the novel is only short, the world that the story takes place in is richly imagined, and well established. Events of the story, such as the building of the ark, are familiar they feel fresh, and the novel is easy to read and engaging. There could have been more attention to detail, and exploration into events and Ila’s thoughts, but for younger readers (14+), it is a well told tale. The novel works as a standalone story, and is easy enough to follow along with without having seen the film, but would work perfectly as a companion, as intended, to the film. If you want a fast paced story, or are simply a fan of the film, or Emma Watson, then this is worth a read.