Monday, January 2, 2012

Lightbringer - K.D. McEntire


About the book

The Never is a place of greys, a world a breath beyond our own, layered just past the memories of yesterday and the fleeting present moment. It is here, in this dismal limbo, that ghosts such as Piotr, Lily, and Elle must sort out an existence, both protecting the children called Lost and themselves from the walking darkness that is the army of rotting Walkers.

Caught between her duty to her calling as the Lightbringer and her concern for her new ghostly friends, Wendy must walk the line between the two worlds, aiding Piotr in his fight against the Walkers as well as searching out the wandering soul of the one who means the most to her. Time, however, is running out and in the end... who will she choose? 

300 pages (hardcover)
Published on: November 25, 2011
Published by: Pyr
Author’s webpage

Thanks to Pyr for kindly sending me a copy of this book to review.

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I’ve been on a young adult kick recently, which is odd for me because I tend to not enjoy young adult books. I’ve lucked out, though. I’ve actually been enjoying the recent flood of young adult books that have come my direction. It’s been a refreshing change of pace from my usual reading routine. Lightbringer is one of those young adult books I didn’t expect to enjoy, but ended up with more than I anticipated.

Lightbringer takes place both in our world, and in a world parallel to our own called The Never. This parallel world is a place where life and death exist together. It’s easy for readers to grasp the ins and outs of this parallel world. One hiccup that may exist for some readers is regarding terminology (for example, the terms used to describe the dead like Rider, Walker, Lost and Shade), which readers will have to figure out as they continue with the book. The Never does take a little time getting used to, but once the reader is familiar with the rules that govern this world, it becomes obvious that McEntire has done a wonderful job at seamlessly blending our world, and the world ghosts inhabit to create something wonderful, enticing and new.

Lightbringer is rather refreshing in the sense that none of the book is wasted on the protagonist, Wendy, coming to terms with her role as a Lightbringer, or a person who brings lost souls into the light. Instead, when the book starts, she is already fully aware of her role in this department, and while there is a bit of a backstory as to how she was trained to handle her abilities, the book is written as if the reader already understands what Wendy’s role is, and is comfortable with it. It’s refreshing change of pace in the fact that it lacks the time many books spend on the protagonist coming to terms with their abilities or their new understanding as to how the world “really” is. Another interesting aspect of Wendy’s abilities is that the author never really addresses what happens after Wendy brings the souls into the light. Actually, Wendy herself doesn’t seem know what happens to them other than the fact that she’s sending them into the true afterlife. Thus, the reader is left wondering if Wendy is doing these souls a favor, or dooming them to some less happy place. Wendy’s ability, therefore, is rather ambiguous. As the story progresses, Wendy starts to question what she’s doing and all the things she was taught, which leaves her, as well as the reader, an interesting fog of confusion which seems to add to the emotional depth of the book. 

Wendy herself is a character of extremes. She can be understanding and loving on one page, and a few pages later she can shock the reader with her abrasive, angry attitude. While the reader may feel sympathy with her plight in life, there are occasions where her negative attitude can be grating. In this way, I personally feel she truly reflects a teenage girl (as most of them can be rather hot-and-cold at times). Thankfully, others around her point out this attitude flaw and she remedies her behaviors. However, her unwarranted snapping at others can be rather off putting, though more positive aspects of her personality nicely balance her negativity.

The antagonist, the White Lady should be mentioned as McEntire does a wonderful job at making her antagonist incredibly easy to loath. While many authors are good at making a fitting antagonist, I doubt I’ve ever seen one so artfully done in a young adult book. Though readers may guess who the White Lady is before the big reveal takes place, it’s still great reading about her. The White Lady’s dialogue, especially toward the end, might really enflame the reader; it’s actually quite entertaining to read about a negative character that is so well done in a young adult book.

Lightbringer does take some time to get into, which might cause some people to quibble with the pacing, but at the end of the day this is a refreshing twist on a paranormal young adult book. Lightbringer isn’t filled with sappy, unbelievable romance, nor does it have a large chunk of the plot dedicated to the protagonist coming to terms with her abilities and her new understanding of the world. Instead, the reader is thrown into a story where the protagonist, an incredibly strong, if hot-and-cold, teenager is dealing with her life as a high school student trying to keep her family together, as well as her plight to find her mother’s lost soul. It’s a touching tale, and a harrowing one, and absolutely not what you’d expect from a young adult book about ghosts. It’s a fantastic change of pace, and one I highly recommend.

4/5 stars

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