a review by Braiden Asciak
This review of Burn Bright was originally published on Braiden’s website then published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011 with permission. This blog has been pre-dated to reflect Dark Matter‘s original publication date.
My review is as follows and can be found on my website.
Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres was a phenomenally creative and original Young Adult read. A newly developed world is slowly revealed in front of our eyes but just enough so that we can understand it the way Retra, our protagonist, does. Because Burn Bright is so atmospheric and engaging in its nature, so it is really hard to capture and give you details on everything that makes it that way.
What I got involved with the most in Burn Bright was Retra’s journey. She escapes her Seal life in Grave where women wore veils, men ruled and wardens punished. She didn’t escape on her own moral choice, but rather because she wanted to find her brother Joel who had escaped and left her alone with their grieving mother and tyrannical father. Retra seeks out Ixion, an island of uninhibited freedom, music, partying and eternal pleasure every second of your consciousness. A place where desires are acted upon without care and every person ‘burns bright’ with life. A place where fear and the ‘self’ is forgotten.
Retra only has one reason for being on Ixion: to find her brother, not party and let her Seal principles deteriorate into lost memories. However Retra could not hide, but rather stood out. A change was the only possible decision to fit in. Retra’s struggle from coming from such a restricted and controlled life to the point of being a total introvert, to becoming someone who has started to find her feet and build her own path, was worth the read. She built the courage to start standing up for herself and others. It takes a lot of courage to break free from being extremely withdrawn and isolated in the way Retra had been. Although she struggled as I said, she did it with not much help from anyone. As I am one who does not like attracting or seeking attention and can be introverted at times, I found myself being connected to Retra when her struggles emerge.
The cast of characters: those new to Ixion; those already residents of Ixion; and the Ripers, all brought this world alive.
Through each of their voices you could hear music playing or lights flashing. How? I don’t know. It just omitted into my vision while reading Burn Bright. You adapt your own party experiences and knowledge about partying and reflect that in the descriptions that Marianne provides. Burn Bright in itself is pretty provocative and dangerous at times, but in saying that Marianne does not shy from such difficult subjects like drugs and sex, which are two important parts of the Ixion way of life.
You do ask yourself a lot of questions. The plot thickens and thins, twists and turns in so many ways it is hard to keep up with it at times, therefore you wonder about things occasionally (hence the questions). Human desires and fears are investigated, and today’s ‘party-life’ of so many individuals is questioned. Much can happen when you’re having a good time, allowing yourself to become vulnerable. Pleasure may transform into pain.
Burn Bright gave me a thrilling ride in Ixion; a ride that I couldn’t hop off. I was bedazzled by the atmosphere and details, that made myself burn bright with ecstasy and passion for this home-grown Australian novel. Marianne de Pierres has sunken perfectly into the YA genre and I’m sure she will accomplish such great things with this series in the near future. Everyone should read Burn Bright and the Night Creatures series. I have just read the sequel Angel Arias, and I can say that it is remarkably better.