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First Light

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  3,240 ratings  ·  565 reviews
Peter is thrilled to join his parents on an expedition to Greenland, where his father studies global warming. Peter will get to skip school, drive a dogsled, and–finally–share in his dad’s adventures. But on the ice cap, Peter struggles to understand a series of visions that both frighten and entice him.

Thea has never seen the sun. Her extraordinary people, suspected of w...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Community Reviews

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This is an interesting science fiction story about a secret world under the glacial ice in Greenland. Thea has never seen the sun, but dreams of the "Wider World" her people escaped from long ago. Peter lives in New York City with his scientist parents who study glaciers and DNA. The stories of these two young teenagers are told in parallel story lines until the two narratives converge in a surprising twist to the story. If you enjoy Madeleine L'Engle, then you will certainly enjoy "First Light....more
First Light was hard for me to put down. Peter Solemn's world is rocked in the very first chapter when his father, a glaciologist, announces the family is going on a research trip to Greenland. Two chapters later, we meet a second main character, Thea, who lives under the arctic ice in a society created generations ago by a group of people fleeing persecution in Europe.

What I loved most about this book was that it plunged me into not just one, but two fascinating new worlds. Greenland itself rea...more
I've been reading a lot of young adult and juvenile fiction lately. At its best, this category of fiction provides quick reads with fully developed characters in plots that are designed for a younger reader and therefore usually cleaner. Unfortunately, this book lacked the depth that I want from a book - whether juvenile or adult fiction.

Peter is a NYC teen who treks to Greenland with his glaciologist father and biologist/writer mom. His story is interspersed with that of Thea, who lives in an u...more
Annabelle Amber
I like it.
It is different.
It has zing.
It has coldness.
Because it's in Greenland.
I like it!
Steve lovell
Whilst our politicians dither and deny, global warming marches on. Soon whole countries will disappear under the Pacific, the weather will become even more eccentric, sea wall building will commence, Tony Abbot will bury his head in sand for real and Gracehope will disappear. Gracehope???? Did you not know another peopled land exists under the Greenland icecap???? Well Rebecca Stead does and she puts together a very fine ya novel with this tale of parallel worlds.
This was Stead’s first foray as...more
Excellent, I stayed up until nearly dawn and finished the book earlier this afternoon. I didn't want the story to end. Rebecca Stead put together a very credible story with very strong young female and male characters mixed in with a bit a science and very early settlers similar to the pilgrims but in the Arctic Circle.

The plot is well woven with intricate patterns that come together to create a beautiful tapestry of words. The book has humor, adventure and some danger as well. The conclusion do...more
A little book about a boy who travels with his parents to study global warming in Greenland and encounters a girl from a secret civilization under the ice.

A bit of a disappointment, after her wonderful When You Reach Me. This book is a little younger, a lot simpler; the adults are too competent and the conflicts too reductionist, so a lot of the tension just deflates.

Still, there’s something about the way Rebecca Stead writes. She has a gift for figurative language simple enough to make sense to...more

I literally read it this fast... after i had it on the desk for a few days...

After reading this great book all i could think of was getting to skip school for a week, ride dogsleds, live in a giant blue tent and explore glaciers in Greenland every other day. Until i returned to my reality...

I once read a review of this book that said "for people who slow to warm to books, First Light could be just the thing to fire the curiosity in them" and this book certainly did that!

Okay, so I didn’t love this book, but I liked it well enough. It had a science-y edge that I’d expect from Madeline L’Engle (I’ve obviously been ruined by A Wind In The Door – I’m incapable of reading about mitochondrial DNA without looking for purple shrimp) but didn’t get too overwhelming. And you have to appreciate an author whose plot includes teens with superpower-like senses, adults with a really terrible sense of self-preservation (the residents of Gracehope are actively (view spoiler)...more
Madeline Smoot
This book follows the stories of Peter and Thea. Peter is in Greenland with his environmental scientist of a father studying the effects of global warming on the ice sheets. He should be enjoying his time away from school, but he keeps getting odd visions of images he can’t explain.

At the same time, Thea is rebelling against her society which lives hidden deep under the ice. Built many generations before, Thea’s home was a refuge for people different from society. However, Thea feels a deep need...more
Jan 21, 2013 Beverly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 10-13 year olds
Recommended to Beverly by: indie next list/
Before the masterful When You Reach Me and the equally excellent Liar & Spy, Rebecca Stead published First Light. It is a somewhat interesting fantasy with a predictable family expectations vs. individual goals conflict and a little bit of science fiction thrown in to keep the action going. It starts out as two stories that merge halfway through the book. Peter is brought to the glaciers of Greenland by his scientist father. Peter spends most of his time alone exploring the glaciers. Thea li...more
So this book was pretty awesome :) I'm totally starting a new shelf for middle-grade/older children's though. The library had it shelved as YA but the two main characters are only 13 and 14, and it read much more like a children's adventure book than a YA novel.

I found it a little slow to start, but it was interesting enough to keep going with and then luckily picked up the pace a fair bit, when Peter arrived in Greenland!

I love how there was no magic or epic science fiction involved either. The...more
James Webster
Doggies On Ice

First Light, by first-time novelist Rebecca Steadman, has an intriguing premise: in the far past, a band of English settlers, fleeing from religious persecution, founded a colony under Greenland’s ice sheet, where they have lived for generations with almost no contact with the rest of the world. As one who has hiked on a glacier can attest, this world is filled with eerie colors, strange crevasses and ice patterns; the sound of melting ice far under one’s feet is an unearthly symph...more
Cathy Keller
First Light by Rebecca Stead is an interesting novel which combines mystery and adventure with science fiction. The main character 12-year-old Peter lives in New York City with his mother, a genetic scientist, and his father, a glaciologist. When his father’s work takes the family to Greenland to student the effect of global warming, Peter discovers 14-year-old Thea and her secret community, Gracehope, which is under the Greenland ice. After finding a map that leads Thea to the surface, she beco...more
Lisa Vegan
This first novel is the third book I’ve read by this author. I really enjoy this author’s writing, her writing style, her stories, and especially her characters. I adored When You Reach Me; it made my favorites shelf, and I really loved Liar & Spy too, though I think this one is now my second favorite book by Rebecca Stead. I’m a huge fan of all three books and will happily read any future novels she writes.

I was greatly moved as I read this book. Reading it was among the best of book vacati...more
The sci-fi elements in this engrossing book feel more like magical realism; there's an aura of magic surrounding this dual tale of Arctic adventure. Thea lives below a glacier in Gracehope, the only world she or her community members have ever known. Peter is the son of a molecular biologist and a glaciologist. Thea is determined to find a way for her community to expand beyond the increasingly cramped and resource-starved cavern they call home. In an insulated blue tent above the ice, Peter is...more
Sally Spratt
I was hooked on First Light after the first paragraph. Rebecca Stead has a style of writing that makes it seem as if the story is not fantasy or science fiction. First Light, like her other books, is definitely a fantasy/science fiction novel, however it's set in the modern world. You don't have to learn a slew of new words, figure out the setting, learn about made up cultures etc. What Rebecca creates, feels as if it could be real, or that it could actually happen. I find myself thinking about...more
Peter and Thea are connected, but they don't realize it. Peter lives in New York City and Thea in Gracehope (a alternative society under the ice in Greenland). Both Peter and Thea are struggling with major changes: Thea's city is becoming overcrowded and needs to expand, but expanding Gracehope means exploration, which Thea's grandmother will not allow. She is afraid of what they may find on the other side of the lake, she is afraid of the unknown (agoraphobic). Pete's family is off to Greenland...more
Monica Edinger
I originally read this when it was published and remember enjoying it. Now having read and reviewed the author's subsequent two novels, both of which have a very striking and original authorial voice I wanted to reread this to see if it was there too. One thing I noticed was that she definitely likes plot twists! In all three books there are big ones indeed. And she loves NYC, especially small neighborhoody places. In this one she mentions a few before the action shifts to Greenland.

I have to s...more
I'm very happy that, after enjoying When You Reach Me so much, I decided to go back and read Stead's first novel. This one also blends a mystery and a fantasy element into a real world setting, although the fantasy aspect here involves an otherworldly community - complete with wonderful dog companions.

With both of Stead's novels, I noticed myself placidly enjoying the first part of the story, then later getting wrapped up in the mystery and plot, until finally sharing in this emotional crescend...more
When Peter's dad, a scientist who studies global warming, wins a grant to explore Greenland, Peter and his mother jump at the chance to travel with him. Little does Peter know that there is a hidden civilization of people who have lived in a city under the ice for generations.

This book switches narrators between Peter and Thea, a girl who lives in the iceworld. Eventually their paths cross and secrets are revealed that change both worlds.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It reminded me of City of Ember...more
Clare Cannon
May 20, 2011 Clare Cannon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 12-18 years
Shelves: 13-15yrs, young-adult
Rebecca Stead tells a great story! This book was a little like Matched, though infinitely better. The plot is intriguing, the characters well developed, and the world building consistent and complete. Like When You Reach Me it is a contemporary story with a layer of make-believe, but the two are woven together with such skill and in the company of such real characters that it feels completely natural. An enjoyable, easy going, and engaging read for teens and young adults.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stead is definitely one of the most thoughtful and creative writers of older children's/ya lit out there now. What a fantastic idea, and written so well! I was able to call the ending halfway through the book, unfortunately, but still loved the process of getting there (and was wrong on a few counts, as well). But it makes sense that her other novel would echo L'Engle so much -- this is a novel where a whole new unique twist on our life is created, believably and thoroughly. Cool! I wish Stead h...more
This was the best book I have ever read in my life it has so much emotion and Rebecca has created a world of her own in my mind currently building grace hope on mine craft five stars.
Peter is overjoyed to tag along with his parents on an adventure to Greenland, where his father is working on a global warming research project. Peter will get to skip weeks of school to explore the breathtaking, ice-covered land; and possibly escape from the headaches he has been getting recently. But on the ice cap, Peter discovers that these mysterious headaches are filled with hidden visions that lead him to unexpected places.

Meanwhile, beneath the arctic ice lies a forgotten society -- one...more
Kelly Moore
I read this book because it's by the author of When You Reach Me, which was AMAZING. This author has a knack for writing very subtle science fiction. The setting of this story is in Greenland, and she makes it beautifully vivid. The story moves back and forth between two worlds that exist in nearly the same place, and she writes it so well that I could picture every detail. I would definitely recommend this book, and I'm already looking forward to any future novels that she writes.
Libby Ames
Thea has never seen the sun. Generations ago, her people were labeled as witches and threatened with extinction. To survive, they created an arctic, underground civilization where they have lived ever since. However, space and food are now dwindling. Thea dreams of exploring the world above to help her people expand their home, but the Council opposes her plans.

Peter longs for adventure and finds it when he joins his parents on an expedition to Greenland. While there, he struggles with a series...more
I liked this book, but not as much as When You Reach Me. I think the plot was interesting - it was a little like City of Ember, but not quite as intense. Some of the characters I liked, but I felt they could have been a little better developed. A lot of time was spent talking about the dogs, which were an important element to the story, but I think it took away from the humans. During the course of the book some details were given a lot of print space (such as who could have children and how fat...more
This story is told through Thea and Peter, two young teenagers living separate lives. Peter has come to Greenland with his mom and dad, as his dad studies glaciers. Thea lives in a sort of underground ice world, longing to discover the other world.
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I love books but don't feel like stars capture what I want to say about them. Many of the books on my list are, in my opinion, amazing. Some I didn't like. But I give them all five stars, because stars make people - including me -- happy. Confused? Me too.

If you want to talk about any book I've read, I'm here.
More about Rebecca Stead...
When You Reach Me Liar & Spy When You Reach Me/First Light Guys Read: Plan B: A Short Story from Guys Read: Other Worlds Who Done It?

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“But every person has to learn to accept what has happened in the past. Without bitterness. Or there is no point in continuing with life.” 5 likes
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