Friday, July 15, 2011
Burn Bright (Night Creatures #1) by Marianne de Pierres
Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.
In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .
Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.
But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.
When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?
Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?
Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.
On Part One, the biggest thing that might put people off is the world building. It's a daunting thing to tackle especially with it being so intricate. "Imagine a place where there are no Elders. No rules. No punishment. Only music and laughter and freedom. That's Ixion." Needless to say, Ixion is complicated. And I confess, after reading that line I was imagining an outcome of donkey ears and wooden noses.
That aside, what I truly enjoyed was the puzzle that Retra presented. Plopped smack in the middle of it, I was unsure as to how I felt about her. I can't say I disliked Retra, neither can I say that I liked her. That I was confused by her is certain. Her upbringing as a Seal presented two things for me. It made her experience in Ixion a little more scary and alien. As a Seal she was taught little and was aware of few things outside her walls. So when she stepped out of that her world in search of her brother, her feelings were mine: unsure, confused but certainly fascinated, and maybe even a little enthralled by the how different things were. HOWEVER, it's the same upbringing that set her apart from the rest in a more postive way because she was not weak, "Their voices rained on Retra. She wanted to scream loudly enough to drown them out, but her Seal-disciplined vocal chords would not oblige her. Seals did not shout for help for themsleves. Seals did not scream..." She did not swallow the company line like the others did either. Instead, she questioned, she sought... and had her own agenda. Of course, it all these things that put her in danger.
Another notable thing about the first part is the absence of a romance... or more accurately, the focus on anything but that! I love that! Yes, she's a girl. Yes, there are boys. Yes, they all live in a place where anything went. So one would expect some romance to be kindled somewhere. I admit it, I was expecting it, hoping for it even. But despite all the opportunities presented for it to be tackled, her thoughts did not progress further than, "Hmmm, I like him or might like him." Thoughts like those were quickly set aside by the novelty of her situation. Of course, the romance bit is tackled a bit more in the second part, but hey it's all good because the direction the story went was very surprising!
And aside from Retra, there's a whole bunch of characters who actually contribute. Almost all she came in contact with had something to add. At first, Rollo and Suki came across just like everybody else, but slowly as she got to know them, their stories added somemore to what was already coming out as complicated in my mind. Complex given the number of players that include: Ripers, Night Creatures, Zoners (burn bright but burn fast,) Peaks (too old) Circle (spies,) Ghosts, The League etcetera, etcetera.
And by the time Part Two rolled in.. I was all, F*ck, what was that? Never a dull moment, I can honestly say I had no idea that Burn Bright would go in the direction that it did. Not that I'm complaining because the second part was where the action was.
I loved the book, so I could go on and on and on about what I liked, loved, didn't like and didn't love so much, so here's the skinny:
*No cardboard cutout protags. All characters even the supporting ones had something to contribute. Whether it's the needed mystery, humor, sappy-sap love or angsty jealousy, all the people she met had something to contribute. And at the center of it all is Retra. She's fascinating! Her background kept her ignorant, and in Ixion, her experience read like a fish out of water, but it is the same upbringing that made her stand out in a positive sense.
*There's worldbuilding of the intricate type. Even if there was a lot to take in the story flowed seamlessly.
*A lot of confict. There's never a dull moment especailly in the second part.
*It's short. Much shorter than I would have liked because just as I was getting more excited well The Acknowledgements showed up; this was not a good way to end a book... at all.
*The second part had much more speed and was more action filled than the first, making the first part seem a tad tame. But really it was the first part's intricacy that had me going. While some may take the first part and weigh it against the second to find it wanting, frankly, both parts? Equally awesome!