Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book Review: First Light by Rebecca Stead

Title: First Light
Author: Rebecca Stead
Published by: Wendy Lamb Books (2007)

My Rating: ✭✭✭✩✩

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Peter is thrilled to join his parents on an expedition to Greenland, where his father studies global warming. Peter will get to skip school, drive a dogsled, and–finally–share in his dad’s adventures. But on the ice cap, Peter struggles to understand a series of visions that both frighten and entice him. 

Thea has never seen the sun. Her extraordinary people, suspected of witchcraft and nearly driven to extinction, have retreated to a secret world they’ve built deep inside the arctic ice. As Thea dreams of a path to Earth’s surface, Peter’s search for answers brings him ever closer to her hidden home.
 



My Review:

Ehhh. *MILD SPOILERS COMING*

Plot: I wish the author had started the book with Thea. Peter’s story is interesting, don’t get me wrong. But the way the book opened was, to me, a bit dull. Just Peter’s regular everyday life…Oh, look, we’re going to Greenland. Yay.
I endured the first chapters because I really liked Rebecca Stead’s other books and I told myself I really should read First Light. 
When Thea entered, for me that’s when it became interesting. I loved Thea’s world. I was immediately drawn in and intrigued. Where is Thea’s world? Where is her mother? What kind of world is this? I eagerly took in every detail. It was such a world that was so vividly described that I loved every minute I spent there. Every detail was covered. Every character was real. Thea’s an amazing narrator, telling me the whole story.

Then we go back to Peter and I groan inwardly.
Sure. Peter’s an interesting enough character. But his story, for me, wasn’t interesting enough for him to have a whole half of the book. Let’s see, what would I rather read about?—a girl living deep under the ice in a whole another fascinating world, or a boy on an expedition to Greenland where he sits around his tent and wonders about his headaches.

Peter’s story needed to be more interesting. More intriguing. But it wasn’t, and as a result I found myself looking forward, anticipating—Oh, when will Thea have another chapter?

Ending: The ending was incredibly, incredibly drawn out. What I mean by this:
In chapter 31, all of our answers to all of our questions are given. They’re summed up and explained, detailed. I’m happy. Everything was tied up very, very well and some of the reveals actually were pretty amazing. (More on this later.) So at the end of chapter 31, I’m completely satisfied. All my questions are answered. It seems they’re all going to live happily. Then I notice there’s fifty pages left in the book.
Chapters 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, epilogue. Pointless. I could not believe how long this book was. There was nothing even remotely interesting about the last chapters. I forced myself through them because I wanted to say I had finished the book. They were absolutely dull and nothing interesting. Maybe others are interested in hours of Peter practicing, practicing more, wandering around, talking to his mother, Thea thinking how amazing things are, her speaking to her grandma, etc, etc, etc. But for me, I’d already had my answers and I wasn’t interested in all the aftermath.

Writing: Back to what I said earlier, about the reveals. They actually were pretty amazing. However the way they were written ruined the shock completely so it did not have any effect on me. It was just written so plainly, so boring without any emotion. “I am Aurora.” “Really?” “Yeah.” “Okay.” 
Okaaaaaaaay?
Anyway, to the author’s credit, they were pretty shocking reveals. AND it was all tied together pretty amazing. I mean, every single tiny question I ever had was answered to the full. Answered without any emotion or without any feeling, but still answered.

Going back to when I said the ending was drawn out: actually, the whole book was drawn out. So…..many….chapters…that.…aren’t.… contributing….to….the….plot….line….ohh…look…peter’s….going…to…dig…a…hole…with…jonas…this…is…so…exciting…
Thea’s story at least was pretty important; every scene was interesting in some way. Peter’s was boring. Do I even have to ask the reason behind Jonas? He made no sense and kind of just disappeared into space in the end.

Other Notes: Another thought on Thea’s world: dogs are a big part. No problems there. I only wish the dogs were given names that make them easy to distuingish from the humans, and the humans weren’t given such outworldly names! When there’s this many characters, it was easy to forgot who was a dog and who was a person. With such similiar names it was very hard to keep them all straight.

It probably sounds like I hated this book, but that isn’t true. I didn’t dislike the book; I just disliked a lot of aspects of the book. An interesting enough story, but it was just too drawn out and got dull really quick. 

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