Out in September, 'The Light Thieves' by Helena Duggan is the beginning of a fantastic new technological, eco-adventure series. Highly unusual, imaginative, thought-provoking and exciting, this is an addictive read sure to be a hit this autumn.
Who would you trust to save the world... a boy or a billionaire? The whole world is in peril! But billionaire tech genius Howard Hansom has a plan... When Grian's sister goes missing he's convinced she has run off to Hansom's new city to help save the world. But when Grian and his two friends Jeffrey and Shelli track her there they find that nothing is quite as it seems...
From the off, 'The Light Thieves' grips the reader with a bizarre and brilliant premise: the world has shifted on its tilt and a dark mark has appeared on the sun. The vast majority of the population believe in the tilt and wholeheartedly view billionaire Howard Hansom as the only one to save the world from spinning off into oblivion. There are a handful who don't believe the tilt ever happened and don't trust this billionaire... Oh my! Already this book is brave enough to tackle the whole real era of 'disinformation', fake news and the frightening power wielded by wealthy men. There are obvious analogies to the pandemic and climate change scepticism and activism, but Helena Duggan explores it in a story that is wildly fantastic, almost outrageous in its scope. Fun and frightening in equal measure.
Essentially this is 'Black Mirror' for children: an unsettling look at the impact of humans on the planet through cult-like tech and the power to control information. How relevant is that! Hansom is like an Elon Musk character residing over an empire very much like Google - the book wonderfully showcasing incredible, imaginative tech that will be sure to delight children reading. But the reader is also made to question everything through the quirky, clever lovable characters of Grian, Jeffrey and Shell, building in suspense, deepening the mystery - sometimes in genuinely disturbing ways. Thankfully, though, the darker aspects of the book are counterbalanced by humour, extraordinarily imaginative settings and characters that offer hope in their outlooks and actions. I loved how Grian's worldview shifts, very much like the Tilt itself. I loved Shelli and the Wildes - a community that pretty much lives off-grid, offering another perspective and raising further questions and ideas.
'The Light Thieves' is a complex, challenging read that darkly mirrors our complex, challenging world. It is also enormously exciting, bursting with ideas with characters to love and root for. With some questions still left unanswered, I am very much looking forward to the sequel to see where this series goes!
Thank you to Usborne for my copy to review.