From the Cover:
Welcome to the Here & Now
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 has finally accepted her fate. Leaving her sister, Ever, behind on the Earth plane, she's accepted her fate, her death, her place in the Here. She joined her parents, grandparents, and Buttercup, her loving Golden Labrador, in the place across the bridge. A place without time, where only in the Here is the Now, or as she thinks of it, the Here & Now.
Just when she thinks that it all manifests, goofing off, doing whatever she likes; she finds out she has to go back to school, and not only that, but she has a job to do, and a guide, Bodhi, to show her how to do it. And her first job is a doozy....
Radiance by Alyson Noël is the story of Riley Bloom, after she decides to cross the bridge from the Earth plane and Summerland, after she leaves Ever. Because, she cannot go on forever tagging along behind her big sister, watching her grow and change, and never being able to change with her. Riley will be forever and always, twelve years old. She'll never be a teenager, never grow up, never grow... well, you know, her chest is so flat is almost sunken in. After accepted her fate, and moving on with her death, she finds out she has a job to do, with a boss she doesn't much like, as a Soul Catcher. She's assigned to guiding souls across the bridge to the Here. But no one tells her what it's going to be like, what she'll experience, how to act. And then when she has to watch Bodhi suffer, all she can do is hope.
Radiance is one of those books that, no matter what kind of day you've had, it makes you feel better. It's marketed to an YA audience, and I would go even further, it would be an excellent middle grade book, and I'd encourage school libraries to acquire this book, it would make an excellent addition to any school library, excellent for their reading program. There is a slightly familiar world to the readers of the Immortals Series, but different enough that it makes the story unique. Riley is one of my favorite characters from the Immortal Series, so I was happy to see her story being told. She's an irascible character, not opposed to causing a little trouble or speaking her twelve year old mind. And you know what, when she has something to say, it's usually a truth that needs to be heard or a lesson she has learned by her own weary experience. I'd highly recommend this book to all readers, regardless of your age, fantasy lovers everywhere. It's fun, with enough explanations for a younger group of readers to enjoy, but with a story that all readers will fall in love with. Alyson Noël has rarely if ever disappointed me, and Radiance is no exception. I'll be looking forward to Shimmer in March 2011.
(March 15, 2011)
From the Cover:
Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a young ghost named Rebecca, Riley soon learns Rebecca's not at all what she sees.
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 keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?