I’m super excited to be reviewing our only non-holiday book this month. I’m such a rebel, right? It’s so appropriate because I had an inner rebellion take place on this read, too. I kept picking this book up, reading the first page, and setting it back down. I haven’t read a ton of zombie books, and having noticed that as a classification, I was turned off. Keep reading to see whether or not I regret my little rebellion…Brilliant Darkness, Book 1 Publisher: Self-Published Source & Format: Purchased; digital Official Summary Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She’s never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings’ tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be. And she’s always known this day would come—the day she faces the Scourge alone. The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything—and anyone—living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn’s. Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him. As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people’s survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she’s forced to decide who and what to protect—her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest.
The Scourge has much in common with other young adult dystopian books: something’s gone wrong in the world, things aren’t great, and a young person is destined to try and save his/her community. I’ve read enough of this genre now that it takes a great spin on this premise, or something really unique about the world, to make me sit up and take notice. And take notice is exactly what happened when I read this book.
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read a lot of zombie apocalypse books. Sure, I’ve read a few, but in general, it’s not a genre I seek out. Had I judged The Scourge by that association, I would have missed out on an incredibly unique twist – the main character is blind! I was so curious to see how the author would handle this. Would I be able to sympathize with her struggles? Would I see the word the way she “sees” it?
The heroine is Fennel, or Fenn for short. She’s gifted with being blind (referred to as Sightless in the book). Only the Sightless can survive walking among the Scourge, who are zombies created by a world gone wrong. In Fenn’s community, there’s a division between the Groundlings and the Lofties. Groundlings live on the ground (appropriately named!), and Lofties live up in the trees. I bet they have some awesome treehouses! The two communities don’t really get along, but they are forced to cooperate to survive the visits from the Scourge.
When the Scourge terrorize the small community, the Groundlings are forced to retreat into nearby caves. As one of only two gifted Sightless, it’s Fenn’s job to make her way to the watering hole and gather water for both communities during these sieges. We meet Fenn as she’s about to take her first terrifying trip, and I could feel her horror (but don’t worry, it’s not too scary – I had no problems sleeping at night, except for being unable to set the book aside!). Peree is the assigned Loftie who protects her using his bow and arrows when the Scourge get too close while she gathers water. It’s a perilous trip, but one that Fenn has trained for her entire life.
There’s SO much more that happens, but you know us – we keep it spoiler free here at Kindles & Wine. To say any more than this would reveal too much, yet, oh how I wish I could talk more about it!
As I mentioned, I was a smidge concerned I’d have trouble relating to young Fenn. Silly, silly Heather. That was so shortsighted of me. (You see what I did there? ) The author did a fantastic job of showing the world from Fenn’s perspective. I loved how others describe colors for Fenn in terms of activities or feelings; it really helped with picturing the world she lives in. I appreciated how Fenn’s strength and courage is so deep. Nobody pities her for being blind – I wouldn’t say they envy her, but they certainly admire and respect and even look up to her. In this world, being Sightless isn’t a limitation but, instead, is liberating. Though terrifying, she can walk among the Scourge and survive (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what zombies do to most people, right?), and dark caves are no problem for someone who’s blind.
When Fenn and Peree are forced to work together for the good of both their communities, things get really interesting (like so interesting, again, I can’t talk about it!). It was neat to read about the Groundlings from the Lofties’ perspective, and vice versa. It helped me to understand why things were the way they are and allowed me to create a better picture of this world and how things work. Even some of the vocabulary is different, which showed how separate the two communities are despite the Lofties pretty much living directly above the Groundlings!
I loved the action and pace of this book! There’s not really any downtime – it was fast and furious right until the end. There was more than one reveal/twist (and possibly more than I mention here) – one I saw coming, one I suspected, and one was like…what?!…followed by my mouth hanging open for several pages. I love being so engrossed in a plot that I’m right there in the moment and am shocked.
I honestly don’t remember how this book found its way onto my radar. Was it a friend, a K&W reader, or just random? I have no clue, otherwise I’d thank them. Speak up if you want credit! I was wrong to be concerned about this book being associated with zombies (I’m so mad my rebellion lasted as long as it did!), and I wouldn’t even classify it as a zombie book – they have their role, but the book isn’t about them. The book is about the two societies and an amazing Sightless woman finding out how deep her strength and courage truly run. Don’t let zombies deter you!Bottom Line
It took me 7 months to move this book from having purchased it to the top of my TBR list, but immediately after finishing The Scourge, I got the second book and have already read it. That should speak for itself.
Wine/Beverage Pairing: Water, but not for the reason you might think.Buy Digital: Kindle Buy Print: Amazon | B&N
Other Brilliant Darkness Series Titles
Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N
The Scourge Giveaway
To enter for your chance to win, you must:
- Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
- Hit the comments and tell me: If you were a member of one of these communities, would you rather be a Groundling living on land, or a Loftie living up in the trees, and why?
Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 11:59 PM (CST) and the two winners will be notified via email on Monday, December 22.