Monday, October 4, 2010

Radiance by Alyson Noel

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher. I have not read Alyson Noel's Immortals series so this is my first experience with her books.

In Radiance, Riley Bloom, along with her parents and her dog Buttercup, cross over the shining bridge into the Here & Now after a car accident. As Riley begins to settle into her Afterlife, she soon discovers that being dead does not mean she'll get to sit around on a cloud watching the mortals below.

Riley is given a job as a soul catcher, along with a teacher - a teenage boy named Bodhi - whose job it is to guide her in learning her new job.

This book was an extremely entertaining and quick read. I will definitely keep up with the series, but I have a couple criticisms of the book:

1) Riley's voice is a tad inconsistent. One minute she's talking like a typical twelve-year-old, using words like ginormous and bejeezums, the next minute she's using words like "glean" and "extenuating circumstances." Noel does briefly address this inconsistency, however, on p. 76 when Riley says, "As someone who likes to mix up my vocabulary a bit, I decided I'd like him for that," but it almost felt like it was added in there as an editor suggestion. Like she said, "OK, Riley talks like a twelve year old girl most of the time, but then you've got her saying these things here and it just doesn't seem like her voice."

2) I thought there were way too many current pop culture references in this story to make this a book worth reading ten years from now. If I were an author (and some day I hope to be) the one thing I would make sure I do is avoid dating my book. But when you mention things like Kelly Clarkson, Joe Jonas, Wii, Punk'd, and Zac Efron, you are giving your book a shelf life, a "sell by" date if you will. The thing is, middle grade readers are really fickle, and 15-20 years from now, kids are going to pick up this book and say, "Who? What? Huh?" and then put the book down due to its inability to reach a new generation of readers. I mean, just imagine if a group of kids today picked up a book that mentioned Pearl Jam, Color Me Badd, and Sega - how many of them would a) know what or who the heck the author was talking about and b) want to keep reading. I'm not saying an author can't make an allusion here and there to pop culture, but I would not suggest making the book rife with it.

Other than those two criticisms, however, it was an enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to catching the next installment.

Cover Comments: I think this cover is stunning. The colors and dream-like quality of the foggy bridge in the background and a glowing Riley and Buttercup in the foreground would make anyone want to pick this book up and read it.

Check out the Book Trailer Here:

Radiance by Alyson Noel
Published: August 2010
Pages: 178
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Middle grade

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