Title: Burn Bright
Series: Night Creatures #1
Author: Marianne de Pierres
Published by: Random House Australia on 1 March 2011
Genre: YA, fantasy, dystopia
Length: 316 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
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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.
“Retra felt the lure of the night rainbows just as surely as she’d felt the hidden beast lurking at the side of the path. She found herself stepping carefully, delicately, between the warring forces of beauty and danger. The rainbows caused a shiver of anticipation to run across her flesh. But at the same time she was drawn to the shadows beyond the path, the sounds of scraping and the scent of perfumed rot.”
Burn Bright was a relatively short novel, especially when compared to other dystopian books. There wasn’t a lot of time to spend world-building, but the author still managed to create a dark, mysterious world. I loved Ixion. It’s not an intricately built world – it can’t be in the short space of the novel – but it’s filled with intrigue and mysteries beyond the superficial ‘pleasure’. Not a lot happens in the beginning of the story, but it was my favourite part of the book. Retra explores, asks questions and uncovers Ixion’s secrets. Everything is revealed slowly, and I can’t remember a single instance of info-dumping or out-of-place world-building.
I was hoping the slow beginning would lead to a big climax, but I found the ending to be fairly anti-climactic. The story certainly didn’t fizzle, but I felt that it didn’t quite reach the level of tension I was expecting and it was all over too quickly. It did, however, leave an opening that made me desperate to get my hands on the next book.
Retra is a conservative girl having grown up in a sealed community. I wouldn’t describe Retra as a likeble person, her conservativeness is occasionally frustrating she’s astoundingly naïve, but she’s the perfect character to tell the story. She’s not distracted by the party life and despite her shy demeanour, she’s not afraid to ask questions or to stand up for her convictions. She was conservative but not shy, and strong but not brash or kick-ass. It’s great to read a character who didn’t fit into a stereotypical box because her actions surprised both myself and other characters. About two-thirds through the book, Reatr goes through a dramatic personality change, which seems a bit sudden at first, but I really enjoyed how the author handled it, exploring how pain and fear shaped Retra’s life.
The other characters all had unique, interesting personalities. I honestly cared about what happened to them, whether it was outgoing Rollo who wasn’t in Ixion for the parties either (although they were a nice benefit), kickass Suki, meangirl Cal or the mysterious Lenoir. They all had interesting stories, but unfortunately they weren’t able to be deeply explored. I hope we learn more in future novels.
I loved Burn Bright. It’s not a unique story, but I would never categorise it as “yet another YA dystopia”. Its sense of mystery and a main character that doesn’t kick ass and has no special abilities let it stand out from the crowd.