Being greatly fond of both When You Reach Me (my thoughts) and Liar & Spy (my thoughts) I thought is was high time I read Rebecca Stead's first novel First Light. I am very glad I did.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Peter is thrilled to
join his parents on an expedition to Greenland, where his father studies
global warming. Peter will get to skip school, drive a dogsled,
and–finally–share in his dad’s adventures. But on the ice cap, Peter
struggles to understand a series of visions that both frighten and
entice him. Thea has never seen the sun. Her extraordinary
people, suspected of witchcraft and nearly driven to extinction, have
retreated to a secret world they’ve built deep inside the arctic ice. As
Thea dreams of a path to Earth’s surface, Peter’s search for answers
brings him ever closer to her hidden home.
Like Stead's other works First Light is a mystery of sorts. I love the way she writes, creating a tone of uncertainty and yet connecting the reader to the characters so well. This is not as flawlessly done in First Light as it is in her later works, but it is still there. And saying that a book by Rebecca Stead is not quite as good as her others still puts it far above most other things available for reading. I will say I think the mystery was handled better here. I was genuinely surprised by the turn of events in this book. I am going to say little about the plot so as not to give too much away, but it was well executed in most respects. There was quite a bit of background in mitochondrial DNA at one point (just a couple pages) that had my eyes starting to glaze over, but I have long since established I am not a person to be interested by talk of the scientific.
I enjoyed both Peter and Thea as characters, though I liked Thea just a little more. She felt more real and fleshed out to me. I don't know if this is due to the nature of their personalities or because I happen to be a girl. I loved the little details of both of their worlds that made the settings come to life. There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the past of Thea's people and the technology available to them that may bother those of a more scientific bent than myself. I was fine with the unanswered and was willing to accept the world as Stead presented it.
This is a great choice for anyone who is wary of sci-fi and fantasy but required to read one. Or if you are just looking for a wonderful story, something Stead always delivers on.