Review Blog

Oct 05 2011

First light by Rebecca Stead

cover image

Text, 2011. ISBN 9781921758256.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. This novel follows two separate narratives which eventually join together to form one story. First there is Peter, a young boy whose father is a university professor and travels a lot to search out solutions to global warming. He decides to take Peter, a university friend, and Peter's mother on a trip to the North Pole for some research. Peter has also been having very bad migraines and strange visions, visions that lead him to a world hidden in the ice.
The second narrative is about Thea, a girl not much older than Peter. She lives in a lost civilisation hidden deep in the ice of the North Pole, and she has never seen the sky. She hopes to lead her people to freedom above the ice, but is quickly repressed by her grandmother. This leads her to search for the reason they can't go above the ice, and in turn this reveals the truth about her mother's death.
First Light is the sort of book that is very hard to put down. Once the story gets going, the reader is drawn into a fantastic world of magic, mystery, and the allure of the icy north. It's obvious this book was written for younger readers, but for the older ones, this will still be a treat. This book relies, not on sheer emotion or heart-stopping action scenes, but on the simple pleasure of a very well told story. The plot is original and refreshing and the characters are very realistic. The writing style will probably feel a little simple to the older readers.
One of the main reasons this story works so well is because of the setting. The allure of the north is in its mystery and by using this effect so much; the setting has become one of the main characters. The way it is mentioned makes the north feel alive, and the creativity used in the construction of Gracehope (Thea's hidden village) is wonderful.
First Light is a very well written story that most people will enjoy, but particularly young readers. This is a solid, enjoyable book that is sure to make you smile.
I highly recommend this book.
Rebecca Adams

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