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Radiance is the first book in the Immortals spin off series (Riley Bloom novels) by Alyson Noel. The book was published by Macmillan Children's Books on 4th February and the book is 208 pages long.
After twelve year old Riley Bloom died in a car crash along with her parents and dog Buttercup, she finally crossed the bridge into the afterlife after having her own vacation of fun and games on Earth. Originally, Riley thought that the afterlife would be full of manifesting whatever she wanted and generally having a whole load of fun. She couldn't have been more wrong!
When she is summoned before The Council, Riley learns just what the afterlife is really all about. Everyone has a purpose and a mission and Riley's is to be a Soul Catcher, helping stubborn souls finally cross over. Her teacher, a geeky looking guy explains that being a Soul Catcher is no joke and that it involves a lot of hard work, which she will experience first hand in her first job. In an English castle, a Radiant Boy has been haunting for centuries and no one has yet been able to get him to cross over. Will Riley be up to this hard task?
What I thought
I loved Alyson Noel's series for slightly older readers, The Immortals and while I don't normally read middle grade books, I was willing to give this one a go because of the author.
The beginning of The Immortals series shows Riley as a dead girl after the accident she was in with the rest of her family. As a 12 year old girl, she always felt cheated out of the life she should have had and this really shows in the first book of her own series. Riley has a very confident and outspoken personality and I loved this about her. She wasn't at all afraid to say exactly what was on her mind even in a room full of people she didn't know and had only just met. What I loved most about her personality was the fact that it made it clear to understand just how upset and angry Riley was about dying at such a young age. At the same time though, she does come off as a little bit of a brat at times and expects things to go her way all of the time but I think that this is quite typical for a 12 year old girl.
The story begins quite quickly, not wasting any time in getting Riley on the right path. She soon learns that her purpose in the afterlife is to be a Soul Catcher. Riley must convince souls to take the leap and finally cross over after hanging around for far too long. I really liked the fact that by giving Riley a job, we get to see herself growing in different ways. Not only does her personality develop but we also get to see her strength and determination grow. Her first mission as a Soul Catcher is to convince a boy living in a castle in England to cross over even though he is seemingly terrifying and people have been trying for years to complete this task. I really enjoyed the fact that Riley wasn't eased in to her new role but instead, thrown fully in to the deep end and had to live up to expectations pretty quickly.
There aren't too many new characters introduced in this book but I don't think that was a bad thing at all. Along with Riley, her beloved dog Buttercup has quite a large role considering that he is a dog and all which was quite strange but it was a very sweet thing for Riley to have taken with her to the afterlife. The one new major character was Bodhi who is given the role of Riley's mentor and teacher when it comes to being a Soul Catcher. He's a really interesting character who we don't get to learn too much about in this book. Bodhi seems to be hiding quite a lot from Riley as he doesn't really know her yet but I can see more and more being revealed about him as the series continues and I can't wait for that!
My only real problem with this book is how short it was. I felt like the action was over far too quickly and it could have probably be drawn out a little more. That being said, it was a lovely, cute, quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A good thing about the book is that you don't need to have read The Immortals series to know what is going on as you get a brief recap of what Riley has been up to at the beginning of the book.
The second book in this series, Shimmer is also now available.