Firstly, how beautiful is that cover? I occasionally write throwback stuff for a magazine so I'm thinking of running a series on old school science fiction covers. I'd love to add this one.
I liked that this was different from all the young adult-dystopian science fiction I've read. It was more about growing up, exploring places and the clash of cultures and settlement.
The Keeper of the Isis Light is a coming of age story. It probably had the most realistically handled teen romance sub-plot I've read in ages. There was a sense of wonder that permeated the whole book. It was not unlike the Gothic writing of Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Mad Scientist's Daughter. (Another book I loved with a different focus on the morally grey relationships between robots and people.)
What would it be like to grow up and have a planet virtually to yourself?
'After midnight the aurora, like a false dawn, began to fill the northern sky with cold green light. It grew and strengthened from flimsy curtains swaying in the cosmic wind to great cathedral arches and pillars carved from translucent jade, shot through with veins of marvellously rosy pink. She could hear the faint crackling music of it, like singing ice, and her red hair stirred in the heavily charged atmosphere.'
(Side note: Check out Jupiter's auroras too. They're beautiful.)
Olwen's adolescence on this planet bloomed with the setting. Her love for that harsh climate made a believable contrast to the other human settler's perspective.There was Ancient Egyptian inspired touches on the climate of the planet. Randomly: Olwen's native animal pet was a friendly dragon-like creature called 'Hobbit.' Yeah, I'm a sucker for good names.
In a way, the story is told like a Bildungsroman fairytale (which may appeal/not appeal to other readers). If I had read it when I was younger, I would of loved it even more.
The only thing I caution about reading this book is the outdated reference where a little boy from Earth is described to have 'negroid' features. This is now a disused anthropological term with offensive connotations.The main character picked up this outdated term because she was exposed to knowledge from old Earth but I'd still share concern on reading/using those terms. The actual portrayal of the boy's character was fine (not culturally offensive). His descendant is the main character in the sequel which is next up on my reading pile.