Nubbin Beck lives in a cave community named Hopelight
Enclave, managed by The Company, which protects them all
from the outside desert. They can peer out through glass at
the unforgiving sand and tell themselves they are lucky to
work for the Company. SECRETS OF HOPELIGHT sounds much like
the premise of Hugh Howey's famous 'Wool' series so I was
interested to see how this book differed.
The first difference is that instead of someone asking to
get out of the silo where everyone lives, someone is
trudging through the baking desert, needing to get in to
shelter. Nubbin and her family spot the stranger and rally
around to fetch him, risking harm from the scorching sun.
They don't have enough water for the end of the week, but
the dehydrated man needs it more than they do. His ID chip
has been surgically removed, but he's in a pilot's uniform.
Just what has happened is a puzzle but Nubbin is warned to
keep the arrival a secret; she and her brother Talin and
school pal Piper need to get on with life.
This is not a friendly society; adults have to petition and
wait in order to be allowed to have a baby, while anyone
who doesn't like beetles really should give the Company dye
farm a miss. On the other hand, four times a year the
enclave gathers, and goods are brought in trade from other
enclaves and the dead cities. Not a great life, but better
than being outside with no resources, biting insects and
While I did see parallels with Wool and with Red Rising by
Pierce Brown, Eva Blackstone has plenty of originality and
her plucky girl character is well able to persuade us of
the world she inhabits. Although she's nearly fourteen, at
times people refer to Nubbin and the classmates as
children, making it clear that the book is intended for YA
readers. This work is a good starting point for talks about
a life short of resources and run by those who take rather
than give. SECRETS OF HOPELIGHT is adventurous, dramatic,
messy and ultimately hopeful. My main concern about YA
dystopians has been that they show adults are not to be
trusted; Hopelight however shows that some adults running
giant organisations are not trustworthy but other adults,
especially family, doctors and so on, are a good place to
go for help or advice. This would be a great gift for the
brave, SF reading young adventurer in your house.
The future Earth where Nubbin Beck lives is as unforgiving
as The Company that runs it. She has never been outside,
only peered through a glass barrier at a punishing desert
where daytime temperatures boil the blood and monstrous,
human-devouring insects dominate the night. Nubbin's family
survives in a technology-driven cave community named
Hopelight Enclave, one of dozens of enclaves net-worked and
managed by The Company, which came to power after developing
a disease-eliminating microchip. Now every man, woman, and
child carries a chip, so the Company can monitor the health
of its employees, while controlling access to water, food,
and other life-sustaining resources.
After her family risks their lives to rescue a stranger from
the desert—an ex-Company employee thought to be dead—Nubbin
struggles to keep the fugitive hidden in her home. He has
plenty say about The Company and its malicious plans for the
microchip. If what he says is true, she knows she must warn
her friends and their families. Determined to uncover the
truth, Nubbin learns that questions are not only prohibited,
they can be deadly. And of all the secrets she uncovers,
Nubbin herself lies at the heart of the most shocking.
Secrets of Hopelight is the first book of a middle grade
dystopian series where humans cling to scattered enclaves,
giant lizards roam the wasteland, and a paternalistic
corporation rules every aspect of life.