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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Secrets of Hopelight by Eva Blackstone is the first book in the Freedom Children series. The Company runs everyone's lives with strict rules which include chip implants, controlling everything they need to survive, and never being able to venture beyond their community into the desert outside. When a mysterious man missing a hand arrives from the desert, Nubbin is shocked to discover his connection with the Company and struggles to understand why her family is keeping his presence a secret by hiding him in their home. The arrival of the stranger opens up secrets about Nubbin's family and the Company she never expected but these secrets open her eyes to a different possible future for her and her family. As she discovers the truth and uncovers a family secret, she must decide for herself what the right course of action is even if it's dangerous.
Eva Blackstone breathes life into a unique perspective on the science fiction genre with a futuristic setting woven with technology, a dystopian flair, and even a hint of wonder. The community has an almost fantasy style to it with the desert, lizards large enough to ride, and assassin bugs. The story has everything addictive about dystopian futures with a controlling government which is seen through the Company and the fight for freedom and independence. The people in the community are confined and controlled through chips which provide benefits like better health but Blackstone is quick to show the downside and control these implants have. This is a far-off future with Blackstone incorporating advanced technology and mention of old books such as Tom Sawyer which sets up the community as being in the future. Nubbin has two best friends whom she trusts with her life and this trust is what centers her while also giving her the drive she needs to push back.
Another side to the story is her friend Piper's illness, which is something impossible but has a significant role in how things progress. Nubbin often feels unheard and overlooked which draws her into deciding how far she'll go for the truth but these choices are what push her into rebelling against not just the Company but her parents. Nubbin is an ideal protagonist with a brave and a daring personality and is someone unafraid to pry into the secrets of the adults. Secrets of Hopelight is full of adventure with action, danger, and charming characters with a futuristic setting, a conspiracy, and suspense which will keep you on the edge of your seat.