Review: Burn Bright {Night Creatures #1} by Marianne de Pierres

Title: Burn Bright {Night Creatures #1}

Author: Marianne de Pierres

Published: Random House Australia March 2011

Synopsis: 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.

Status: Read from May 16 to 17, 2011 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

I was gifted Burn Bright by the author after reviewing a book by her literary alter ego, Sharp Shooter. Fantasy YA is not usually a genre I would seek out and I admit I chose to read it because I was grateful for the gift and because it neatly coincided with a GR challenge. However from the beginning I was drawn into this imaginative and bold YA fantasy novel.
Retra lives on an island in a repressive society whose strict class structure segregates its inhabitants. As a ‘Seal’, Retra lives under a repressive regime that denies free thought or speech. Retra’s brother rebelled against the strictures and escaped to the rumoured island of Ixia leaving her to face punishment from her family and community leaders. Despite the cost, Retra follows in her brother’s footsteps, and lands in Ixia – a haven of pleasure and self expression determined to reunite with him.
What particularly hooked me with this novel, was taking the journey with Retra as opposed to watching it unfold. Starting the book, I was pretty confused, not understanding why Retra was fleeing, crippled with pain, or where she was headed, but I wanted to know and I soon appreciated that this unusual beginning was a clever technique that mirrored Retra’s own experience of disorientation and created an immediate bond between her character and myself as the reader. Even though the narrative is third person, the perspective always comes from Retra’s experience maintaining that link throughout the story. Since we rarely learn any more than what Retra does and she knows very little, some details of the storyline have to be intuited or imagined, which can be frustrating if you prefer your fantasy world and it’s rules to be clearly delineated. As a series debut there is some deliberate vagueness and mystery surrounding the characters and plot direction leaving the author plenty of scope to navigate in future installments.

The plot explores the extremes of repressive and hedonistic society and the natural inclination of teenage rebellion. Ixia is a pleasure island, constantly in darkness, that advocates freedom and constant partying. Everything is provided for it’s refugees and there are few rules, but behind the glittering facade, the Ripers hide a secret. As the residents age they are withdrawn, though no one seems to know where it is they go, the teens are forced to take mind altering drugs under the guise of care and the Ripers seem more sinister than solicitous. Retra is not the only one who sees past the glossy surface, unsanctioned gangs like the League led by Dark Eve, and the mysterious Ruzalia. Events begin to spiral out of control and as truths are revealed, Retra sheds her Seal identity to become Naif who may well lead a revolution.

Burn Bright is an intoxicating and edgy adventure from accomplished Australian writer, Marianne de Pierres. I look forward to the second book in the Night Creatures series.

Available to Purchase

@ Random House Australia {EPub}

@ Random House Australia {Trade paperback}

*Not yet available in the US*

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tahliaN
    May 21, 2011 @ 11:11:06

    I though this could have been better than it was. I found the character development from meek & ignorant to tough and a leader far to fast to be believable, and what was the ‘enlightenment’ she got from someone sucking on her leg? I really didn’t get that. I didn’t like the sexual overtones in the sadism either – not in a YA book.

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  2. NC
    May 21, 2011 @ 22:38:52

    Thanks for the review. I love the cover have been curious about the content. I may read this if my library gets it.
    NC
    Truly Bookish

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  3. Trackback: Review Goodness | Marianne de Pierres - Burn Bright
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