Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling
Published: 1 October 2013 (Cillian Press)
Buy the paperback: Amazon|Hive|BookDepository
Source: Received free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Cillian Press!
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
In the near future, when the world's population has been decimated by disease, the fortunate few live inside the Boundary, while the unlucky ones are left to die on the Outside. MaryAnn is one of the privileged. It doesn't matter that her friends can sometimes be cruel or that the boy she likes just threw up on her shoes, it's all about being noticed at the right parties. But it takes a single event to rip her life apart.
Struggling with physical and psychological scars, MaryAnn must face up to the truth about the foundations of the Neighbourhood and the legacy of her family. Once she learns the truth she can never go back, but can she really put her faith in the Union?
"Blinded by the Light" is about death and coming to terms with loss, the abuse of power, discrimination and the fear of the unknown. It is the first book in The Union Trilogy.
Blinded by the Light follows MaryAnn, daughter of an influential politician working for the Light and an upper class member of the Neighbourhood. But not all is as it seems. MaryAnn soon discovers there is more to the Light than meets the eye, and that life outside the Boundary may not be all that it seems.
Now I love a good post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel and Blinded by the Light satisfied that craving! Plus it's set in the UK which is always exciting to see. The premise of the book is based around the society living in safe Neighbourhoods after a virus attacked huge parts of the population. There's a constant fear of becoming unwell and wealthy houses are fitted with isolation chambers in the event of anyone catching a mere cold. Society is broken up into the wealthy Alphas, down to the Deltas who do tasks such as cleaning and maintenance, then the Echos who are known as Ferals and live outside the Boudary. I loved reading about all the divisions of the society and how they came to be. Of course beyond all this on the surface is a lot of government conspiracies and propaganda. I adored the premise and the world building was superb.
The story is told in first person from the view of MaryAnn, and I can see her being a very Marmite character. She's been brainwashed by her father into the government's way of thinking, and growing up wealthy has made her incredibly spoilt. She's very much a daddy's girl (she refers to her parents as mummy and daddy throughout) and is used to getting what she wants. Despite all this, I was still very much able to warm to MaryAnn. She goes on a real journey throughout the book as she starts to discover the truth about those around her, and it was heartbreaking to see this image of her perfect world start to crumble around her. There's a very vulnerable side to her character and throughout the book she goes through some extremely traumatic times. By the end of Blinded by the Light I had garnered a huge amount of respect for her. She makes some incredibly brave and intelligent decisions along the way.
Alongside MaryAnn, Peter was one of my favourite characters. As a member of the resistance, he first comes across quite brash, but once I got to know him I found myself really drawn to him. There's some really warm and humourous moments between the resistance members that were a nice balance to some of the more horrible things happening, and I liked the subtle relationship between Peter and MaryAnn that builds throughout the book.
Blinded by the Light does have some pretty dark moments, dealing with terrorism and torture in ways that are often quite gruesome, but I thought the ideas in the book were really well handled. It started to make me question what was happening and towards the end of the book I was placing myself in MaryAnn's shoes and asking just what I would have done in her situation. The whole book was gripping and tense.
The only downside for me was the pacing in places. There were scenes that were glossed over that I would like to have known more about, and others that lingered on that I thought could have been over more quickly. Overall though I really enjoyed the writing style. I got swept away with MaryAnn and the trials she faces, felt the emotions she went through and loved the intricate world building.
The climax to Blinded by the Light was probably my favourite part. I was already addicted to the story but it just made me crave so much more. This is the first book in a trilogy so I'd definitely be excited to read the rest of the books. If you're looking for a new dystopian fix then this is for you.
What to read next: This is the first book in the Union trilogy.
Books like this: Matched by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Slated by Teri Terry