Publication date: July 29, 2014 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
A beautiful and captivating dystopian tale resonant with love and hope from the acclaimed poet and New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Lightning, Stormy Weather, and Enemy Women
See the rain forests . . . northern beauty, misted nights. Come to Lighthouse Island . . .
In the coming centuries, Earth’s population has exploded and covered the planet with endless cities. It is an unwelcoming world for Nadia Stepan, abandoned at age four and left with only a drawing of the Big Dipper and her mother’s parting words: “Look to the North Star, and we will always be there.” Nadia grows up dreaming of the vacation spot called Lighthouse Island, in a place called the Pacific Northwest where she believes her long-lost parents must be.
In the meantime, this bright and witty orphan finds refuge in neglected books, and the voice of Big Radio that emanates from an abandoned satellite, patiently reading the great classical books of the world.
When an opportunity for escape appears, Nadia strikes out in search of a dream. She faces every contingency with inventiveness and meets a man who changes the course of her life. Together, they head north toward a place of wild beauty that lies far beyond the megalopolis: Lighthouse Island.
Lighthouse Island is one of those books that just seemed like something I would like. It is dystopian, it is literary, it is adult. So, yes, I liked it.
The reader is introduced to Raisa as just a girl whose parents left her on the street. She becomes one of many orphans who are growing up in a strange, dry, anonymous part of what was once the U.S. She likes to be alone, but everyone wants her to to be with the group; she can't watch television because it hurts her eyes, but that is the main source of entertainment for everyone. She doesn't fit into their mold. Her name is changed to Nadia for some strange, unexplained reason having to do with her medical care.
Things feel weird and vague. Sometimes it seems like Nadia is walking through a vague, foggy dream - or nightmare - might be more accurate. There is no sense of time or place or even person-hood. The world building is done gradually since the reader experiences everything through the eyes of either Nadia or James, a wealthy man who was paralyzed in a fall and ends up helping Nadia. The world Nadia and James inhabit it a strange and uncertain one where people pretend not to see anything that might make them a target, and for the most part, just seem to accept that this is how things are. There is little reflection on things or questioning the system. The few who do end up in prison or on the newest show that broadcasts live executions.
One of my favorite things about Nadia is how she is able to instinctively capitalize on the inefficient bureaucracy of her world. People are at the mercy of whatever agency or department is currently rounding people up or hunting people down, or searching for evidence of some vague crime or intent. It is all very disconcerting and menacing. There are lots of rules that make little sense and many limitations on freedoms. Nadia, of course, sees the fact that no one knows what any one else is doing or who they are working for, so she takes on a persona and makes up titles and occupations as needed to talk her way out of situations. She is usually pretty successful.
I kept wondering while I was reading the book about who was actually in charge of the country. Was there anyone actually in charge? It seemed like the so-called leaders that were shown on the screen were just figureheads, someone from central casting even. Or was everything run by competing departments? I think the book brings a lot of current issues to the reader's attention by taking these issues to extremes and showing the victims and results.
I will admit that Light Island may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. Even the lack of quotation marks didn't bother me. In fact, I thought it worked well with the story. It seemed to reflect the uncertainty in which the people lived.
Paulette’s Tour StopsWednesday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, August 5th: BookNAround
Thursday, August 7th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, August 13th: The Steadfast Reader
Monday, August 18th: Love at First Book
Wednesday, August 20th: A Book Geek
Friday, August 22nd: Read. Write. Repeat
Monday, August 25th: she treads softly
Wednesday, August 27th: Fuelled by Fiction
Thursday, August 28th: Giraffe Days
TBD: Book Snob