Monday, July 02, 2007

First Light


Stead, Rebecca. 2007. First Light.

This book has almost convinced me that I should start thinking about year-end celebrations and countdowns. Why? It has one of the best beginnings. It practically shouts, "Read me! Read me!" from the very first sentence.

"Most boys his age had never touched paper." One simple sentence that describes a complete other-world-within-a-world. That probably makes no sense whatsoever. If you're an extremely devoted reader of "Becky's Book Reviews" and you have an amazing memory OR if you've read White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean for yourself, you know that one of the main characters is quite mad and he is searching for a hidden underground world or civilization beneath the ice of the antarctic. That book is a fairly good study of insanity. But this book, First Light, is a brilliant book about such a world. Not that the underground world or civilization is un-human. They're almost super-human in some ways. But I don't want to give too much of the plot away. Seriously this is one you just need to read for yourself. Trust me.

Another reviewer has mentioned some similarities between First Light and City of Ember. This is partially true. Both feature young characters who live in an underground world--a world that was created to escape something dangerous and life threatening from the surface--who dream of more. Who dream of reaching a world of sun and stars. Of going back to the outside world. Of course, in City of Ember, the people aren't quite sure what--if anything--exists out there. And it is only a few brave kids who risk it all to see. Likewise in First Light, it is a young boy and a young girl who venture forth to the surface.

But while there are some similarities, there are enough differences to make First Light truly unique. If you loved City of Ember, you may very well enjoy First Light. But I think many people will enjoy First Light. Why? It's exciting. It's full of adventure. It creates a whole world-within-a-world. And it is all done in a very enjoyable, believable way.

Before I get too distracted, let me just give the basics. Thea and Mattias are young kids from Gracehope, this underworld sealed in ice. Peter is a kid originally from New York City who happens to be visiting Greenland with his parents who are scientists. It's a "mystery" of sorts how these characters will eventually weave together into one solid story. And the mystery is the fun of it all. So I will not give any hints or details about the story.

I also don't know how to classify this book. It's set partly in the "real world" both in New York City and Greenland. But Gracehope doesn't exist. Humans don't have the technology to make it exist. So in that way, it could be in a way science fiction or fantasy. Yet it isn't 'traditional' in either of those categories. There are no aliens. There are no unicorns or dragons. And I suppose you could argue that it might be dystopic in nature, it's not really truly that either. Yes, there are a few minor flaws in the society. But enough to destroy it from within? Not really. Just a few stubborn personalities. So what is it???? I guess I'll just have to classify it as great and be satisfied.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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