Marianne de Pierres is an underrated writer, especially outside her native Australia. Given I’m currently reading a lot of Young Adult SF (that being what I’ve been writing), when I got the chance to read an advance copy of her new YA novel, Burn Bright, I jumped at it.
The book did not disappoint. It has all the classic elements to engage the younger reader (and older ones for that matter). The hero, Retra, was brought up in a religious and repressive culture. She flees this seeking her brother, whose own decision to run away has made her life even more difficult. She follows him to Ixion, a perpetual party island where young people treat having fun as not just a way of life but as a religious devotion.
Here she meets a variety of interesting and sometimes startling characters, all deftly drawn, all with their own aims and agendas. Of course, things are not what they seem, and, despite her resolution, Retra is eventually sucked into this crazy and compelling world.
As with the author’s other work, it’s the world itself that makes this novel stand out. Familiar enough to believe in, alien enough to shock you, Ixion is mysterious, rich and compelling. And it’s just part of a bigger picture. As the novel progresses and Retra’s own narrow views widen, we see, through other characters, glimpses of other lifestyles, other places, on what promises to be a fascinating world. My only complaint? It stops just when things are getting really interesting.
Fortunately there is more, as this is the first in the Night Creatures series. I’ll be looking out for Angel Arias, the next in the series.
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