Author: Marianne de Pierres
Series: The Night Creatures
Published: March 1st, 2011
Publishers: Random House Australia
From Random House Australia:
Into a world of wild pleasures and deadly secrets comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength . . . Retra doesn't want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night. Retra is a Seal - sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn't crave parties and pleasure like all the others. But her brother left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she's ever known, 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.
Welcome to Ixion. A place of constant darkness, the Ever Dark. It is a bazaar of the bizarre. On this strange island, everything is a party. Modesty is a sin.
Ixion is like Party Zion. You know that scene in Matrix Reloaded with the rave where everyone is going crazy and dancing up on each other. That is how Ixion is ALL the time. But instead of Machines lurking outside the walls, there are the Night Creatures.
After her brother runs away to Ixion, a distraught and lonely Retra follows him there in the hopes of bringing him back home. She gets way more than she bargained for in this bizarre land and discovers a world full of things unknown to her. A place of gratification and self-absorption with a war brewing in the dark. A place that can change her. She will become someone else and she will call herself: Naif.
The island of Ixion exists purely for pleasure and purely for young. Anyone considered an "over-ager" mysteriously disappears, unless they are first taken by Ruzalia the pirate. Rumor has it that she uses the over-agers as slaves or pets. Since no one knows what happens to those that disappear, some would rather risk slavery to Ruzalia than the possibility of disappearing off the island into oblivion or death. In her case, Retra would rather risk the unknown than live without her brother. She would possibly even risk death, because she can't bear the thought of life without him.
This book got me thinking a lot about human motivation. Why we do a lot of the things we do. Because don't many of the things we do come down to what we feel is the "better case scenario". There's even a game we invented called "would you rather." Who ever picks the option that sounds the worst to them?
Is that why war exists? Some feel the better option is to attack others, rather than risk being attacked themselves. Things may be said like: "Get them before they get us." "Their sinful ways will be the death of us." "It's you or me, buddy." We see this kind of reasoning a lot. In movies, books, and even in reality. Defending yourself isn't wrong but there is a thin line between defense and offensive defense. In adventure or sci-fi fiction particulary, it isn't often that a true line of communication is opened. War just seems to break out. It makes me wonder how often "talking it out" is overlooked in the real world.
In this world that we live in, ruled by information and communication, where no one is left unspoken for, where open mindedness is encouraged - why does war still exist?
I think true dystopia raises questions about human nature.
Dystopia should have a life all it's own. A life that thrives on our our fears, skitters away from our comforts, draws questions from our concerns. Burn Bright does just that. A few examples:
"Is it the rules and restrainsts in your life that have made you self-sacrificing? Is guilt the foundation of your kindness?"
"They're passionate in their beliefs" "They are misled - as passion most often is. Beware it, baby bat. Beware the foolishness of passion."
This book is unlike the new wave of artificial dystopias that plague the YA shelves. This is infused with passion for the story and the author seems to have a great love for the characters. The prose is vague and haunting, with scant background information.
The beginning requires a difficult adjustment period from the reader. I feel like we are so used to "instant gratification" that we struggle when things aren't easy to understand. This is not a book to be read lightly. You can't skim this. Bits of information are worked in so scarcely that you will feel lost if you try to read it quickly.
Burn Bright contains unusual dialogue and things are often mentioned without being fully explained. You are left somewhat to your own devices a lot of the time, but I find myself okay with that. Sometimes, it's a necessity for me because I find myself to easily bored if I understand and know everything right away.
Marianne's imagery was so different from what I'm used to with YA and strangely vivid for such a dark world. The descriptions are not all too well defined and the reader is required to make their own assumptions about the details of the world and their surroundings, but I actually enjoyed that part of it and found it to be very Hitchcockian. Sometimes, less is more. More exciting, at least.
This world is fully immersive, but not for everyone. It's eerie and untraditional. You are required to see things in different shades of darkness, multiple shades of gray. I tend to like things that are a bit off the edge, those things that lie in the dark of the deep end.
If you have a similar craving for something different, then you just might love this the way I did.
Check out the fantastic book trailer for Burn Bright! Then head over to Marianne's blog for tons of extra content including a book soundtrack.