cover image Lighthouse Island

Lighthouse Island

Paulette Jiles. Morrow, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-223250-2

Jiles’s latest (following The Color of Lighting) is a lyrical take on dystopian fiction set in an arid, borderless future in which a surfeit population has caused the totalitarian government’s Agencies to resort to drastic survival measures. “People disappeared but everybody pretended not to notice and stayed neutral and colorless like fabric lampshades.” Nadia Stepan, deserted by her family when she was four, leads a lonely existence centered on her fantasies about living on Lighthouse Island, a magical place advertised on TV, promising serenity in a natural setting. A chance encounter leads her to James Orotov, a mysterious man who says he has knowledge of her long-imagined destination and possible safe routes to it. Nadia must learn to trust James while hoping that the technical know-how and connections he claims to possess will be enough to travel safely without arousing the suspicion of the authorities. The dangerous plot James hatches is like that of one of Nadia’s beloved classic novels. The real test, however, consists of living without the restrictions that have defined their existences up until now. Jiles’s prose is a striking match for the barren landscape of this moody adventure tale. Agent: Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Oct.)