Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel

First, let me hold my hands up and admit that I haven’t read Evermore yet. I have it on my TBR, but the premise of Radiance seemed a little more interesting so I started with that one. I mean, I knew it was a spin-off about the little (and deceased) sister of the main character in Evermore, but I wasn’t aware of exactly how closely they intertwined. I’ll write my review trying to bear in mind that omission, but consider this a kind of disclaimer.

Riley Bloom died, aged twelve, in a car crash with her parents and her beloved dog Buttercup. Her sister Ever survived – but that’s another story. Riley must let go of Ever and all the things that tied her to life – and discover what she’s meant to be in the afterlife. Riley is a soul catcher. That means helping the unhappy lost souls who stick around in the human realm to move on – and find their own place, over the bridge, in the great hereafter. With her spirit guide, Bodhi, and Buttercup by her side, Riley embarks on an adventure that will take her around the world – sending ghosts back where they belong, until she can finally make it there herself. 

I love books that deal with the Afterlife, especially if it involves the deceased having to perform some kind of job to earn their keep. Even as a child, my favourite film was Toothless, the Disney film where Kirstie Alley is a dentist killed by a cyclist who’s then forced to work as a Tooth Fairy in Limbo. So anyway, nostalgia aside, I love the concept. I just didn’t think it was executed all that well.

One of my main issues was that the story just jumped right in there. I know I really should have read Evermore first (get used to me saying that – it’ll be a frequent occurence in this review) but Radiance made a huge deal out of Riley taking a long time to cross over from the mortal world without ever showing it or explaining it. She was just suddenly there, in Here (the name given to the Afterlife to avoid affiliations with any particular religion, I assume) and being forced to attend her first day of school. This series is meant to be a spin-off, not a sequel, so I would have thought it’d be safe to start here.

Anyway, that’s my own fault, but just bear it in mind. The other thing is, as Riley is a little younger than Ever, the writing style is altered accordingly. The Evermore series is YA, but this seems to be aimed at a younger audience, which is possibly why Riley never actually deals with the fact that she’s, you know, died. So the plot is quite shallow and light and never really drew me in – I think I expected something revolving around death to be a little deeper.

I found that there were a lot of loose ends and unanswered questions in Radiance. I was ready to shrug them off as something that was explained in Evermore, but other reviews tell me that this isn’t the case. The ending came as a surprise, but only in a ‘Right… and then what?’ kind of way. It just kind of stopped and that was that.

I was a little disappointed with this book, but I’m not sure if it suffered under the weight of my own expectations and lack of previous reading. I was entertained and I don’t regret reading it, I just expected a little more. I’ll pick up the second one if I get chance, but I think I’ll read Evermore first.

So. Just in case you haven’t picked up on my subtle and vague hints throughout – READ EVERMORE FIRST!!!


  1. Kelly says:

    I'd like to read this and see if reading Evermore would help, because other then knowing that she got stuck in between worlds for a bit, where she could visit Ever as a ghost, Riley isn't in the Immortal series that much. She's definitely mentioned often, and we saw her quite a bit in Evermore, but she mostly just played the role of annoying little sister (who just happens to be dead).

    I was a huge fan of Evermore, but the Immortal series dragged on way too long for me. After reading your review, I feel like Radiance may just be a by-product of a series that should have been left as a trilogy, and nothing more.

  2. Hannah says:

    *giggle* I'm so anal about spin-offs and sequels for this EXACT reason. I actually have a copy of Shimmer but apart from it being book 2 and a little young for my tastes (it and 'Lottie Biggs is Not'.. whatever it was were sent together from the children's department of Macmillan), I just HAVE to read things in order. I think with Pratchett I really could do without that but I'm glad when it comes to a lot of things.

  3. Brenna says:

    I've been wondering about this one for a while, but after reading this I don't think I'll get around to it. I wasn't thrilled with Evermore, and I'm not even sure I'll finish reading the series, or the spin off because of that. Even Evermore felt a little "young" to me, but maybe that's because I'm just getting to be too old 😉

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

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