Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review of Radiance

Radiance by Alyson Noel
Pages: 192
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pub. Date: August 31, 2010
ARC received from Jenn at Book Crazy (THANK YOU!)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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..."

Riley Bloom, Ever's little sister from the Immortals series, has finally moved onto to the afterlife.  She lives there with her parents and her trusty dog, Buttercup.  All is well until The Council asks to speak to her concerning her new job. Yes, you must work even in the afterlife!  They give her the job of Soul Catcher, which means she has to coax others, who are stuck on earth, to cross the bridge into the afterlife.  Her first job is particularly hard. She must convince The Radiant Boy to cross over. It won't be easy; he is notorious for terrifying people on a daily basis. From what she has heard, he is perfectly content haunting his castle in England and has no desire to cross the bridge.  Her guide and mentor, Bodhi, has come along to help her as well as Buttercup.  Alyson Noel's Radiance is a promising start to a new and fun series for middle grades.

It's not often that I come along an entertaining book that is perfect for sixth graders.  Most of what I read and review is aimed for upper middle grades and/or high school.  A lot of the middle grade books out there are deemed immature or boring by my students, but I think Noel has outdone herself with this one.  Not only is Radiance perfect for middle grades, it's humorous, it's heartwarming, and it's extremely entertaining.  I know a lot of my sixth grade female students would love to have the chance to read it.  How could this book not be considered cool by my students, especially since Riley is the protagonist?   

Speaking of Riley, she is such an enjoyable protagonist. I adore her feistiness and confidence; in fact, she is my favorite character from the Immortals series.  As I was reading, I was thinking how it's brilliant that Noel has the two series overlapping a bit; I really enjoyed that aspect of it.  For example, in the Immortals series, Ever tries to communicate with Riley, and in Radiance, Riley watches Ever from the afterlife or Here.  I also enjoy Noel's take on Here, and how she included the family dog, Buttercup.  Thank you, Alyson Noel, for including Buttercup! Some of my favorite parts of Radiance are Noel's oh-so-cute descriptions of Buttercup.  

I think my sixth graders will enjoy Riley and Bodhi's innocent interactions.  There's nothing that is PG-13 here.  Bodhi is the elusive, nerdy guide that Riley has come to like. She judged him at first, but then by the end of the book, she comes to realize that she "shouldn't judge a book by its cover."  I think that's an important message for middle schoolers.  

All in all, Radiance is a series that middle grade girls will love.  There's a feisty protagonist, a swoon-worthy pal, an adorable yellow lab, and an incredible setting.  What more could middle schoolers want?!?  The second book in the series, Shimmer, comes out next spring.  I can't wait to read about Riley, Bodhi and Buttercup's second adventure.

*Watch the book trailer:


  1. Wonderful review, I agree such a cute sweet sassy book! :)

  2. Thanks for your awesome review. You helped me decide that this one is probably too young for me.

  3. Aww, it sounds super cute! I loved Riley and Buttercup from the Immortals series, too. I am still on the fence with this one, being as how their are quite a few other MG books I'd love to read, but I hope I'll be able to read Radiance at some point!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I appreciate it. :)

  5. I agree this one is probably 2 young for me but i might change my mind b/c i haven't read nevermore.


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