First Light Review
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In 2004, Bill Rancic was the first reality TV job applicant hired by Donald Trump in The Apprentice. Since then, he’s worked as a real estate developer, a motivational speaker, and a talk show host. And now, with the publication of First Light, he adds novelist to his growing resume.

The story recollects the past as a family travels from their home in Chicago to the Yukon to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the plane crash that changed their lives forever. During their journey, they tell the story of Daniel Albrecht and Kerry Egan, coworkers who are returning from an exhausting business trip in Alaska with wonderful news: not only have they finally set a date for their wedding, but they’re also going to be parents. But when the plane crashes and Kerry is seriously injured, they find themselves fighting to make it out of the snowy wilderness alive.

First Light tells a harrowing tale of tragedy, survival, and the kind of love that knows no limits. Rancic sets up an intriguing story in the frigid wilderness—part adventure, part romance—as this group of characters works together to help each other stay alive in the harshest of conditions.

From the beginning—even before the crash—Daniel is nothing short of valiant. Then, after surviving the crash without serious injuries, he immediately sets out into the storm to rescue survivors, doing everything in his power to care for those who need medical attention. At first, he does it out of habit—since his job requires handling crises. But, mostly, he does it out of sense of responsibility for the survivors and love for his fiancée. As the strongest and healthiest of the survivors, he feels that it’s up to him to keep everyone safe until help arrives. He’s a strong and heroic character, but, at times, he feels a little too heroic—because, even in his moments of weakness and doubt, his thoughts are still utterly selfless.

All of the characters seem rather one-dimensional—but the others don’t have the same larger-than-life personalities. Coworker Phil is Daniel’s opposite in so many ways. Quiet and brooding and distant, he still harbors guilt over his tragic past. Injured in the crash, he’s happy to let Daniel take charge—until he’s forced to step up. And, finally, in the middle of the two men, there’s Kerry. Though she plays a major part of the story, she spends much of the story fighting for survival after she’s seriously injured in the crash.

The execution certainly has its flaws. The characters generally lack depth and individuality—and the only character who has a backstory has a story we’ve seen before. Rancic also tries to be a little too clever with his technique—and readers will soon see through his changes in storytelling style and predict the story’s outcome. Still, the setup is interesting enough to hold readers’ attention. And although the characters aren’t exactly carefully developed, their story still makes for a light read that’s both romantic and suspenseful.

First Light may not be a perfect first novel, but it’s still an entertaining one. It may be a good vacation read—but if you’re traveling by plane, you might want to leave it at home.

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