In Paulette Jiles dystopian novel Lighthouse Island, four year old Nadia Stepan is abandoned by her parents in a ravaged society and told “Look to the North Star, and we will always be there…” With no rain for over century, stealing someone’s water is punishable by death, although the elite secretly revel in warm showers and swimming pools.
Reading gives Nadia hope for a better life and she begins a desperate trek to the fabled “Lighthouse Island,” although others of society’s lower echelons are skeptical of its existence. Among other multiple dangers she faces, misfits such as her that are deemed attractive are sentenced to ‘public executions.’
On her journey Nadi meets wheel-chair bound mapmaker and demolition expert, James Orotov. James tries to help Nadia in her quest remotely from his higher level job, until he himself must flee for his life and he sets off to find her.
Although the ending seemed forced and rushed and did not especially work for me, the determined character of Nadia quoting literary passages and her resourcefulness along her dangerous journey did keep me hooked!
Definitely an unsettling dystopian read shadowed with Fahrenheit 451 overtones, Lighthouse Island stays with you long after the last page, especially if you take a sip of water…