Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling

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Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling

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Category: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Enjoyable near future dystopian story set after a virus has devastated Britain. MaryAnn must choose between the Neighbourhood and the Light and the Union and life beyond the Boundary.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 268 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Cillian Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1909776009

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Some time in a near-future Britain, things look very different. The Sandman virus wiped out most of the population. The fortunate few live in one of three Neighbourhoods, each protected by the Boundary. Beyond the Boundary is Outside - a wasteland populated with infected feral Echoes. Luckily for MaryAnn, she lives in the Neighbourhood that was once known as Manchester. And she's a rich and privileged Alpha. Although her parents aren't celebrities - which MaryAnn would like, because then she'd be invited to cooler parties - they are influential in the Light, the Neighbourhood's leadership. So MaryAnn has designer clothes, servants, and nothing more to worry about than bagging a date with peer group kudos.

But things are about to change for MaryAnn. Her parents are killed when a bomb is detonated at the Building of Light. She is taken in by the Director, leader of the Neighbourhood. And she's contacted by Daryl, her long lost brother, who has a lot to tell her about the Light. Can MaryAnn face up to the truth? And can she keep safe?

I do enjoy a good dystopian story and so I loved the premise behind Blinded by the Light. How would society reassert itself after a devastating virus that killed off most of the population? Would the rich retreat behind electrified fences and maintain the standard of living they had before things went wrong? You can see it as a very real possibility, can't you? Would their leaders keep their population in the dark about what was really going on? Well, leaders do that already, don't they? Would they detain and torture dissenters? Perhaps the less said about that the better.

There's a good plot going on. Blinded by the Light is the first book in a planned trilogy. It serves to introduce us to Kipling's dystopian world, with its privileged Neighbourhood and Light leadership pitted against the Union's Outside. It's also MaryAnn's story. She is a spoiled, pettish, superficial girl at the outset but she must make a journey of painful discovery and she's a very different, more principled, more mature, person by the book's final pages. I like a good picaresque and MaryAnn's is an enlightening one. It makes me wonder how I would react in similar circumstances. I'll be interested to see how she develops further in subsequent books.

Blinded by the Light is a great read, especially for fans of the dystopian genre. On occasion, it stray into wordy territory and some passages could do with less description and more focus. And once or twice, I cocked a bit of a side-eye - it seems unlikely the Light's Director would locate torture rooms beneath his own house or do his own mangling of prisoners. But these are nitpicks. Kipling has given her readers a credible world, interesting characters and a plot you can get into. And it asks some pointed questions. Is the means ever worth the end? What is the difference between a freedom fight and a terrorist? What is more important: family or cause? What more could you ask from a book?

I think you'd enjoy Blinded by the Light.

Other near future dystopian novels set in an authoritarian future thatyou might enjoy include The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake, Slated by Teri Terry and The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd.

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Buy Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling at


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