Thursday, 9 September 2010

Book Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel.

Product details:
Publisher: Square Fish
Paperback, 192 pages.
Release date: August 31st 2010.
Ages: 9-12.
Rating: 2½ out of 5
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley... 

I don’t usually read Middle Grade books, but I was offered this one for review, and as I’m a huge fan of Alyson Noel’s Immortals series, and I love the character of Riley in those books, I thought I’d check out this spin-off series.

Noel has created a whole new world for Riley in this book, an afterlife in which she has to come to terms with the fact that she will never get to grow up and experience life as a teenager like her sister, Ever.  This has left Riley somewhat bitter and she acts out quite a bit.  I have to say that I found the character of Riley a little different here than she appears in the Immortals books.  There, we only get to meet her from time to time, and I’ve always found her to be quite sweet and endearing. Here, she a little bratty and blunt, and her ways take a time to get used to. I guess she is the annoying little sister!

We know her intentions are good, though,  and as we accompany her on her first assignment as a Soul Catcher her kind heart, sassy nature and good humour win through. In her role as a Soul Catcher, Riley must travel to a castle in England and help a ghost known as  The Radiant Boy on his journey to the afterlife.  This is no mean feat, as this boy is one ghost who is very reluctant to cross over!  In this book we also meet Riley’s mentor, Bohdi, a guy who she dismisses at first as a total dork, before later changing her mind and deciding he‘s totally cute. Buttercup, Riley‘s adorable dog, is also on the journey and he has a special personality all of his own. I love Buttercup!

Even though Riley is dealing with serious issues in her mission as a Soul Catcher, she keeps things light-hearted with her sense of humour.  The ghostly plot will appeal to younger readers, but there are deeper thematic undertones here such as dealing with death and grief and learning how to let go and move on. Noel deals with these issues suitably and sensitively for younger readers.

Overall this is a cute read and it‘s nice to know how Riley has been doing on the other side.  Although this is a spin-off from the Immortals series it can be read as a standalone.

Shimmer, the second book in the Radiance series will be published in spring 2011.


  1. I thought this book was cute and fun, too. Definitely something my middle school girls will love. Great review! Oh, and I adore Buttercup as well. So cute!

  2. Thanks for your review. Other people said she was a brat, so at least I'll expect it. Riley was my fav character in Evermore and I missed her in the other books.
    Alison Can Read


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