Review: First Light by Bill Rancic

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Overall Score: 8.5/10

Genre: Fiction, Survival, Contemporary

Series: No

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the Penguin First to Read program in exchange for an honest review

Book Summary (From GoodReads)

A father from Chicago takes a road trip to the city of Whitehorse, in Yukon Territory, with his wife and son. During the car ride, they reveal to the boy their harrowing experience surviving a horrific plane crash in the wilderness ten years before, which is how the boy, in fact, came to be born.

Set amid the deep, wild woods of the Yukon, First Light tells the story of Daniel Albrecht and Kerry Egan, young lovers leaving a work trip in Alaska to plan their wedding back home in Chicago. Not long into their trip, both engines of their plane catch fire and send them careening into a mountainside in the middle of a terrible snowstorm. Kerry is seriously injured in the accident, and it soon becomes clear that search-and-rescue teams aren’t going to find the survivors in time to save her. Daniel—the one person with survival experience amid the passengers—makes the courageous decision to find help and bring it back to the rest of the passengers, hoping against hope he might save the woman he loves. He leaves Kerry in the care of their coworker, Phil Velez, himself seriously injured in the crash, and takes off into the woods to find a town, a house with a telephone, a road. Something.

But Daniel’s choices are made all the more difficult by the presence of his boss, a stubborn man more interested in results than taking care of people. Only one man will come out of their trek alive, but it still may not be in time to save Kerry and the others back at the crash site, slowly dying from their injuries.

As the parents’ story draws to a close, the truth about the boy’s life, and the identity of his father, will at last be revealed.

Review

This book was very unexpected. It was tender, emotional, and utterly captivating. Even though you knew from the beginning that two of the main characters survive, this book manages to stay extremely high-tension. It balances the actions necessary for survival with the emotional development of the characters.

The book does an excellent job of setting up the characters, giving you a background on their skills and setting up relationships. Even before the plane crash, the reader becomes emotionally attached to the main characters. The fight for survival seems incredibly realistic and at times brutal. The personas that the characters had in their previous lives are stripped away as they discover new aspects to themselves. While Daniel was incredibly brave, the emotional development that Phil went through was perhaps the most touching aspect of the story for me.

This is an intense read that grabs the reader and doesn’t let them go. It stays with you after the last page, haunting in its portrayal of what individuals will do to survive. While I wish the current relationship between the parents had been developed a little more, there were hints as to the depths of emotion they felt for each other.

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