How does one survive in a world of magic when you don’t have any? Well, for Xhea, you capitalize on the one gift you do have. For her, that is seeing ghost and the tethers that bind them to the world.
It’s not much, but she survives on the scraps her talents provide her. That is, until she’s thrown into the world of the privileged magic-users after she meets a ghost of a Radiant, a person who generates more magic than anyone else, named Shai . Together with Shai, Xhea has to navigate her underground world and the the world of the upper class in the floating Towers as she tries to survive and protect Shai from everyone who would exploit her spirit for more power.
The book is divided into three sections, each section serving more like a novellette that ties into the larger theme of Xhea and Shai’s survival. It reads much like a television series does, and while it doesn’t have the classic structure of a novel, the episodic nature of Xhea and Shai’s story feels more believable and human because of it, even as we follow them through a world of walking dead, magical floating towers, and ghosts.
Frankly, the story hits on all of the things I wish we could see more of in young adult fiction: two female protagonists, no hint of a love story, and a very real look at what it means to have privilege (though this can be more heavy-handed than I would like), and a character with a disability.
Sure, we can say we are all sick of dystopian science fiction and fantasy, but this has far more reality than ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Mazerunner.’ This is a very real reflection of the dystopia we currently live in, and it’s an excellent exploration of it using characters that don’t typically get a voice.
‘Radiant’ is the sort of fiction that should be read by young adults and fantasy lovers alike, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what the second book in the Towers Trilogy has in store for Shai and Xhea.