January 06, 2008

Secret World

This book was a 2007 Science Fiction & Fantasy Cybils Award Nominee.

This debut novel by Rebecca Stead, one of the talented members of the Class of 2k7, deftly alternates the parallel stories of two young people who share a mysterious connection--but don't know it yet.

Peter is the son of two scientists--his father studies glaciers and his mother is a molecular biologist with a special interest in mitochondrial DNA. Ever since he can remember, his mother has battled with bouts of depression that she calls "headaches," and now he's started getting weird headaches too. Peter hopes that their upcoming research trip to the Arctic will somehow help everything get back to normal. But what he finds there turns his world upside down.

Thea, the other main character, lives in an isolated, almost fantastical icy world of sled dogs and skating paths, in the insular community of Gracehope. Raised by her aunt Lana, their lives are regulated and structured--until Thea makes a shocking discovery about their community and its origins. And when Thea and Peter accidentally meet, on the surface of the ice, two completely different worlds collide.

This fascinating book had an intriguing mythology in the world of Gracehope--which I could easily have devoured more of--and reminded me a bit of DuPrau's Ember series. First Light was an absorbing story that kept me hooked as discoveries and revelations were steadily unfurled--I look forward to re-reading this one.

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