Thursday, February 27, 2014


Title: A Dream of Lights
Author: Kerry Drewery
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 28, 2013
Genre: Young Adult
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 4/5


A powerful and moving stand-alone novel for anyone who loved A GATHERING LIGHT or BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY, in which a teenage girl struggles against the odds for survival in a North Korean prison camp...From the author of A Brighter Fear. Yoora is a teenage girl living in North Korea, dreaming of the lights of foreign cities while eking out a miserable existence in a rural northern village. But then she makes a mistake: she falls in love. With someone far removed from her social class. Someone dangerous to know. When tongues start to wag, her father is executed and she is taken to a prison camp in the mountains. There, escape seems even further from her grasp. But Yoora is about to learn an important lesson: love can surprise you, and it can come in many forms...


Although A Dream of Lights is truly a beautiful story, its setting in the very communist North Korea makes for some depressing - if very realistic - reading. Yoora meets the love of her life, sees her father executed, ends up losing her entire family, and all the while she doesn't know whether her love, Sook, betrayed her or whether she herself is to blame.

I found this book extremely depressing at first but, as the characters and their tale took hold of me, I started enjoying this very sad and painful journey with Yoora. In a world where your neighbour, your best friend, or even a member of your own family can betray you to the authorities for a bit of food, Yoora tries to find love and make friends. When her father is shot and her family disintegrates, she has to cope with prison camp and guards who enjoy the power they have over their captives with a horrifying viciousness.

Yoora is a well-crafted, realistic character with a positive attitude that surfaces even in the face of impending death. I could, however, not really get a grip on Sook, the other main character. This vagueness in Sook's character makes the reader wonder about his loyalties right up to the end of the story.

From descriptions of oppressed rural North Korea, heartbreaking grave side vigils, and a ride on top of a train in icy weather, to an unexpected moment of laughter shared with a fellow prisoner, and the birth of a baby, A Dream of Lights is a book that will captivate you and touch your heart.


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