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The Keeper of the Isis Light

(Isis #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,184 ratings  ·  96 reviews
It was her tenth birthday on Isis. By Earth years, she would be sixteen. But Olwen Pendennis had never been to Earth. She had been born on Isis. And since her parents' death, she had lived there alone, manning the Isis Light -- a "lighthouse" in space designed to aid ships, and to bring settlers from Earth. And now, on the day of her tenth year, the settlers are coming at ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published 1980)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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else fine
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: misanthropes and monkey wrenchers
This was my favorite book as a kid. It held up well: the perfectly timed build-up of the plot, the vivid and beautiful descriptions of a high desert world, and the believability of the main character were all as riveting as they seemed when I was ten. Though the book deals with Serious Issues, as young adult books do, it doesn't offer any simple solutions, and the resolution, though quietly satisfying, isn't quite the happy ending you'd expect. It offers a moral lesson I enjoyed as much this ...more
Sep 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, ya
After her parents died in a freak storm, Olwen has grown up alone on the alien world of Isis. She spends her days roaming the planet she considers her own. The only person she speaks to is the Guardian of Isis. But at last, colonists are coming to Isis.

This book feels very dated. The style of writing, the gender norms, the tech, all felt very golden-age scifi. Additionally, the OMG PLOT TWISTs are excrutiatingly obvious. Once they're out of the way, the story improves. Overall, I did quite like
[First book I read & reviewed in 2019]

A short but memorable read. Pretty good if you like older, somewhat predictable juvenile/YA sci-fi tales. First published c. 1980, THE KEEPER OF THE ISIS LIGHT is the first book in a trilogy, but it stands alone (pay heed, modern 'cliffhanger' authors!).

First line: It was a day like any other day on Isis, and yet, when it was over, nothing would ever be the same again.

Note: As at least one other GR reviewer has noted, this is one of those books where
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Goldfield not permitted. The excellent cover that was on the edition I borrowed is not avl. here; too bad.)

Very good SF, especially given that it's directed at young teens & 'tweens, a decidedly under-served group. I kinda sorta saw where things were going, but it still surprised me in many ways. Thought-provoking and charming. I will continue to struggle (!) to find more by the author.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this long before I joined Goodreads, along with a LOT of other science fiction. Someday, I will add more of the ones that I know I read. I won't be able to write full reviews though, as I have only vague recollections of most of them. I know that I liked this one, though.
An Odd1
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Olwen Pendennis p 41 16 has lived her whole life alone on the planet Isis with Guardian after a radiation storm killed her parents Gareth and Liz p 203. To her more than a robot "a thousand times friend .. much much wiser" p 150, he could not protect the baby human body from such a harsh climate. (view spoiler) When "eighty settlers" p 25 come from Earth, she no longer needs to operate the Lighthouse, "only the ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first read this in 7th grade and was truly fascinated by the story of the girl Olwen living alone on a planet with her robot keeper. Everything is turned upside down when she is 16 and colonists arrive from Earth. The story covers themes of loneliness, prejudice and what makes someone human. I found myself fiercely loyal to Olwen while not truly knowing her at all (or did I?)

Rereading The Keeper of the Isis Light (20 years later) I was similarly intrigued by the story. This book has a few
DO NOT READ THE BOOK SUMMARY ON THE DUST COVER! It essentially tells you the plot and the unsaid parts. That is, unless you do not want to read the very short 136 pages. I really enjoyed that Monica Hughes does not lay out every detail for you. That method is so very different than books written now, which seemingly feel the need to mention everything repeatedly, however unnecessary. Leave something to our imagination already! The main character, Olwen is likable, though naive. What I ended up ...more
Aug 07, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: tor-com
It's always fairly jolting to me when I discover this rad new book from whatever various blog I'm reading and go to mark it as to-read, only to discover I already did at some point in the past. Case in point: this book.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember loving this book
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's ironic that we frequently think of YA books as stories that have to be "scaled down" in some ways, as if the way to prepare young adults for the world in front of them is by taking away things that are more "mature" ... leaving behind threads that often weave together a story that is better for the absence of explicit sex and violence that is the hallmark of many inadequate videogames. (I remember reading somewhere that if you had to use sex to sell something, you had nothing to sell. There ...more
E.H. Nolan
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn’t think I’d like this book. I thought it was written for teenage boys, and I’d be bored to tears by the alien planet setting. I was wrong. This is a fantastic book. Truly fantastic.

A sixteen-year-old girl, Olwen, has lived on an alien planet all her life; her parents were sent from Earth to explore an inhabitable planet, since Earth has been abused and needs to be evacuated. Olwen has been free, happy, and alone. She’s had an entire planet to herself, besides the man appointed as her
Elise Rogers
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Olwen lives alone with a computer companion on a planet called Isis. Her parents have passed away and she's the remaining guardian of "the Isis Light," which is like a beacon to draw possible settlers to the planet. She knows nothing of companionship or culture, but her whole life has built to the moment where human settlers would arrive. But what will she do upon encountering the humans and finding the companions she's been craving would no longer recognize her as one of them?

The way this story
Bethany Lawrence
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this random find. I was in high school during library time. I randomly found this on the shelf. I had to return the book and have been looking for it again as an adult. I finally found it! I hope to order it soon. Very interesting Science fiction about a young girl left along with a robot to care for her. This book got me hooked on science fiction and fantasy.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
4/5 It's funny when you go back and reread a book you loved as a child, how familiar and new at the same time. I have fond memories of this book but I could only recall bits and pieces of the story. I don't know that I ever read the rest in the series, but I think I need to try to find them.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
One of my favorites as a kid. It might not be as good a story as I remember, but I'll always have a soft spot for this book.
Oct 09, 2017 added it
Still holds up! Enjoyed it more than I expected to. However, due to current events it was quite jarring to read the word Isis so casually. A little unsettling.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book combined my love of sci-fi with my love of ancient history. A very intriguing read.
Sung Ju
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Different than what I was expecting.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 3.7
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of early YA novels
Shelves: young-adult, sf, 2015
Title: The Keeper of the Isis Light
Author: Monica Hughes
Genre: YA, SF
Setting: The planet Isis, current population only two - a young girl and her guardian.
Reason for Reading: I believe I saw mention of this trilogy online, and was intrigued.
Finished In: Days, maybe two of them.
Pages: 240
Copyright Date: 1980
Cover: A girl with long red hair wearing a metallic suit.
First line: "It was a day like any other day on Isis, and yet, when it was over, nothing would ever be the same again."
Sep 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Olwen Pendennis and her companion, Guardian, are the only beings on the planet Isis. They tend the lighthouse, and send regular reports back to Earth about the living conditions on Isis.Everything changes when, at the beginning of the story, a group of 80 settlers from earth arrive to colonize the planet. Olwen's perfect paradise has been shattered. The rest of the plot revolves around her interaction with the settlers, her romantic interest in Mark (one of the settlers), and disconcerting ...more
Olwen has lived alone on the planet of Isis with her Guardian for as long as she can remember. She is the Keeper of the Isis Light and reports back to Earth the status of the planet for future colonists. Olwen loves her life, she loves belonging to the planet and being with Guardian. Shortly after her 10th (earth's 16yrs) birthday a rocket ship lands. Her guardian insists she wear a protective suit whenever she meets the new arrivals who are making a home on her planet. Then she falls in love ...more
Although there were a few holes supporting the premise of the story, the idea is compelling.
I had fun noticing the moments of 'retro sci-fi', as has happened in other books I've read from the 80's. It's the future ... but it's also slightly reminiscent of the 80's/90's, and I think that is a point of interest in it's own way. A young audience would probably appreciate a new edition, but it's a fun read regardless. I'm planning to check out the other two in the series.

In particular, I think
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As readers, it is sometimes our rare and happy pleasure to discover a book that nestles in the soul long after the cover has closed. The Keeper Of The Isis Light is such a book. This science-fiction treasure’s simple plot is driven by writing that is clear and concise, and yet wholly descriptive at the same time. Hughes employs a type of authorial alchemy to paint a sumptuous vision of Olwen’s world and the troubles she faces when unexpected change arrives in the form of a colony ship from ...more
Pam Baddeley
First in a trilogy, this tells the story of the culture clash between Olwen, survivor of the family sent to the planet Isis to tend the beacon there and survey the planet for human colonisation, and the newly arrived colonists. Olwen's Guardian robot, her friend and servant, has adapted his charge to survive on Isis and this brings her into a serious clash with the colonists, with resultant heartbreak for Olwen, and sets up the situation for the next volume in the series.

There are some fine
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual Rating is 3.5

It feels good to go back to one of the older YA author's works. Monica Hughes was definitely a groundbreaker of YA Science Fiction and, boy, am I glad she explored the genre!

Hughes writing style is clear, simplistic (but not condescendingly so,) and descriptive. Her world-building and setting are easy to visualize. The planet of Isis and the details of the sun, radiation, valleys, and peaks were definitely a strong point in this novel.

Her characters are... good enough.
Johan Haneveld
Jun 08, 2016 rated it liked it
A bit of a slight book, with an old fashioned approach to SF (well, it was published in 1980, so that's not something to hold against it. It even woke up feelings of nostalgia for 'golden age science fiction'). It's beautifully written, accessible (it's a YA novel), with engaging though slightly two dimensional protagonists. The romance develops fast, maybe unrealistically so (it's more of a crush), but fitting with its conclusion. The story takes an emotional approach to its twist (and not a ...more
Julie Decker
Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Olwen lives alone with a computer companion on a planet called Isis. Her parents have passed away and she's the remaining guardian of "the Isis Light," which is like a beacon to draw possible settlers to the planet. She knows nothing of companionship or culture, but her whole life has built to the moment where human settlers would arrive. But what will she do upon encountering the humans and finding the companions she's been craving would no longer recognize her as one of them?

The way this story
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was a preteen and remember enjoying it, but for some reason I never read the 3rd book of the trilogy and therefore decided to reread it. However, the second time around I liked it less. I still love Monica Hughes and her writing style, but this book's content didn't measure up to my remembrance/expectations. I was highly annoyed by the insta!love between Mark and Olwen. I can kind of understand it from Olwen, since she hadn't met a boy her age before, but it just seemed ...more
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Monica Hughes was a very popular writer for young people, and has won numerous prizes. Her books have been published in the United States, Poland, Spain, Japan, France, Scandinavia, England, and Germany. She has twice received the Canada Council Prize for Children's Literature, and was runner-up for the Guardian Award.

She is the author of Keeper of the Isis Light, an American Library Association

Other books in the series

Isis (4 books)
  • The Guardian of Isis (Isis, #2)
  • The Isis Pedlar (Isis, #3)
  • The Isis Trilogy
“If you inhabited a world and a colony of tongueless people landed, would you consent to having your tongue cut out so that you could be like them?” 1 likes
“The scent of cactus flower still lingered in the air, although it was many hours since she had thrown the golden flower into the incinerator. When she walked out onto the terrace, the scent became even more powerful and she realised that it was being wafted to her on the evening breeze from the eastern mountain. The whole upper slope, above the grassline, was a mass of blooming cactus.

She could no more rid Isis of the scent than she could rid herself of her feelings towards Mark - unless she made Guardian fire the whole mountainside and destroy the flowers. He would do it if she were to ask him. He would take away the memory of her love for Mark too, if she were to ask it of him.

She walked to the edge of the terrace and looked across the river valley. To do violence to the mountains and the creatures that lived there, just because she could not bear the scent of the cactus flower, would be hideously wrong. To do violence to her mind, so as to forget her unhappiness, would be equally wrong.”
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