Monday, September 12, 2011

Life (or Afterlife) as a Soul Catcher

Paranormal stories with haunted houses are a staple of fantasy fiction.  Radiance, a novel by Alyson Noël, was written for "tweens," which includes readers ages 9-12, or those in grades 5-8 (which is probably more in the 11-14 age range).  It depends upon who is defining the audience scale.

Most "tweens" have enough trouble dealing with the struggles of everyday life and growing up with all the physical and emotional changes that happen.  Imagine if those challenges continued in the afterlife!  For Riley Bloom, there's just no escaping the fact that we grow and change, whichever side of the veil we're on, and so we need to learn to adapt to the challenges of living, either in body or in spirit.

The ghost story aspect of the book is simply a plot device.  What the author really wants us to think about is being a "young adult" or a "tween" and coping with life's changes and difficulties.  Whether Riley, Bodhi, Buttercup, and Radiant Boy are "alive" or "dead" (in the ordinary sense of the words) is not as important as how they feel, think, and act, and how they mature with experience.  Can we understand and sympathize with what they're going through?  Do we care what happens to them?  If so, then the author has connected with us, and reading her book should be enjoyable and worthwhile.

I wouldn't recommend this book for readers under age 10--it is probably too intense--but for anyone in grades 5-8, it should be smooth sailing, even if the story's a little scary at times.  But isn't that what ghost stories are supposed to be?

Your Roving Reporter On The Go,

Cauli Le Chat

P.S.  We have a second book trailer for Radiance--same graphics, different soundtrack.  Which one do you like better?  Please let me know in the comments section.

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