Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Paulette Jiles's Lighthouse Island.

In the future the city is everything and everything is the city. The old state and city names are gone as are the dates. The same goes for all of the resources. Water is scarce and most people are only allotted a small amount a day. To try to get more is a crime. 

Nadia is born into this world as Raisa but at the age of four she is abandoned. The city takes her in as an orphan renaming her Nadia Stepan - one of many Nadia Stepans apparently. Through it all, though, Nadia remembers her parents' last words to her, words that have led her to dream of the day they might once again be reunited. She's convinced that they are waiting for her and she believes she can find them at the legendary Lighthouse Island. 

There's something of a dreamlike feel to Paulette Jiles's prose in Lighthouse Island. Nadia is an orphan like many other orphans in literature. Her world is a disaster and her lot in life is worse than most as the story begins. She's abandoned, she goes blind for a short period of time, her name is changed, she's shifted around from one place to another. All the while she holds onto a dream of one day escaping to Lighthouse Island and being reunited with her parents.

Jiles, who I've only ever known for her historical fiction, builds a believable and nasty dystopian world in Lighthouse Island. It's the kind of world where your boss can have you seriously punished for the smallest infraction. Nadia is guilty of her own little rebellions, all of which result in demotions and eventually the possibility of arrest. Partway through the narrative those in charge begin turning over the idea of public executions to entertain the public.

There's a sarcasm to the story that's reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Definitely not to the extent of that of the movie, but something in Jiles's tone kept bringing me back to Gilliam's world. It was unexpected but also welcome, something I think works quite nicely to lighten the story just a tiny bit. Most of it comes through Nadia's lies, something she relies on to get by throughout the book.

I have to say, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into with Lighthouse Island. I love dystopian fiction and strong world building is always a must if the setting is to make sense. But in any story you want characters you can get behind and a plot that makes sense. I'd expect any writer worth their salt to be able to do these things regardless of the genre they're tackling but we all know sometimes it just doesn't work.

Jiles pulls it off magnificently! But the book works for me because I was able to really dive in and spend long stretches of time with the book. This is definitely one I'd recommend setting aside time for. Little nibbles of reading would never have gotten me through a book like this and likely would have left me frustrated with the story as a whole. (That dreamlike quality I mentioned above and the author's decision not to use quotation marks...)

Rating: 4.5/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

BONUS: I've added a giveaway since the post went live. To enter to win a paperback copy of Lighthouse Island simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 11. US only/no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


KAS said...

Dear Becky, thank you once again for featuring a special opportunity for we readers to get insight into a great new release as well as win a free copy! The advice about planning reading time in chunks will prove useful in future reading here. I struggle with Time daily (and usually lose the battle), so I might easily otherwise end up trying to get into this read in little bites for reasons other than personal preference...I'll take extra care in this case. -Kara

Unknown said...

Sounds interesting! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the advice about reading this in chunks, I'll keep that in mind. The book sounds really interesting.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm glad that you had the time to spend sinking fully into this book and to really enjoy it. Thanks for being a part of the tour!