Publication Date: August 31st, 2010 (Radiance), March 15th, 2011 (Shimmer)
When I picked up Radiance last fall, I did so for two reasons. One, the cover is so pretty. My eye was drawn right to it. Two, it was short. I wanted to find something for the reluctant middle-school aged reader, and that meant it had to be under 200 pages. I was very pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed reading it so much! You see, I just do not like Alyson Noel's The Immortals series. I know the books are wildly popular and I think she is a great writer, but I just could not connect with Ever, making it impossible for me to get into the books. I'm so glad I gave her little sister, Riley, a chance! She's a great character, and after reading Radiance, I found myself looking forward to reading about her future adventures. I hope Alyson Noel keeps the Riley Bloom Books coming...
This is my review of Radiance, from back in October (from the blog I used to run at my daughter's school):
"Most people think that death is the end.
The end of life- of good times- the end of, well, pretty much everything.
But those people are wrong.
And I should know.
I died almost a year ago.”
Twelve year old Riley Bloom and her dog, Buttercup, are in the Here & Now. They have crossed the bridge to the afterlife, to a place called Here, where the time is always Now. Riley has been reunited with her parents after spending the period of time between her death and her crossing in Summerland, the in-between place. Now, as she settles into her afterlife, she realizes that it isn’t really THAT much different from living. She still has parents, still lives in a house and sleeps in a bed, and still has to go to school, where she will learn her vocation…
When Riley goes to school on her first day, she meets with the Council, who assign her the job of “Soul Catcher” and a mentor named Bodhi, an awkward, mysterious, and almost hostile boy. Riley’s job is to go back to the living world, where she must convince spirits away from their haunts, and across the bridge to Here & Now. Her first assignment? Radiant Boy. Over the span of centuries, many have tried to coax him away from his English Castle haunt, and ALL have failed. Will Riley, with Bodhi’s help, succeed?
Radiance is the first book in a new series by Alyson Noel, bestselling author of the paranormal romance series, The Immortals. It is a fantastic story about Riley and Bodhi’s adventures as Soul Catchers, as well as Riley’s adjustment to the afterlife. Riley is a strong-willed girl, who is both extremely intelligent and stubbornly foolish. Bodhi is not the boy you initially expect him to be, and who he is comes as a great, and pleasant, surprise. Boys and girls alike will love this book, so boys, please do not be thrown off by it’s girly, pretty cover (you know what they say about judging a book…), it is full of action and scary ghosts. It is also a fairly short book, coming in at only 183 pages, so it is a very quick read- great for those who don’t necessarily love reading. A definite MUST read for the student who likes ghost stories.
Now I've finished Shimmer, and I think I liked it even better. We get to know Bodhi a little bit better, and Riley "grows up" a little bit (as much as a girl who is stuck forever at 12 years old can). We also meet a new, and seriously sinister ghost; one that puts Radiant Boy to shame. Rebecca was the daughter of a plantation owner on the island of St. John. Rebecca is murdered, along with her father, during a slave revolt in1733, and she is PISSED! She continues to haunt the location of the plantation, trapping and tormenting the souls of the slaves who took part in the revolt. Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup find themselves trapped by Rebecca in her world and their own worst nightmares...
Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
I really enjoyed reading this one. It was a quick (194 pages) and easy read, and the story flowed very well. I like that Noel continued to develop the characters, and I was most impressed with the subtle message the book put forth about how all-consuming anger can destroy your soul.
I can't wait for the 3rd installment, Dreamland, to release on September 13th of this year. I'll be sure to get it right away! I can't wait to see what kind of trouble Bodhi has to bail Riley out of next time. It's sure to be an adventure!
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (Radiance); ★ ★ ★ ★ (Shimmer)
Grade Level Recommendation: Both books can be scary at times, and there are some graphic, historically-accurate accounts of violent slave treatment in the 1700's in Shimmer. I would say they are appropriate for advanced reading 3rd graders+ (ages 8 and up).