Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: When Light Left Us

When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Release Date: February 13th, 2018
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 1/23/18 to 1/25/18
416 pages

When the Vasquez siblings’ father left, it seemed nothing could remedy the absence in their lives . . . until a shimmering figure named Luz appeared in the canyon behind their house.

Luz filled the void. He shot hoops with seventeen-year-old Hank’s hands. He showed fourteen-year-old Ana cinematic beauty behind her eyelids. He spoke kindly to eight-year-old Milo. But then Luz left, too, and he took something from each of them. As a new school year begins, Ana, Hank, and Milo must carry on as if an alien presence never altered them. But how can they ever feel close to other people again when Luz changed everything about how they see the world and themselves?
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

It's times like these where I forget HOW to review a book. And especially one like this, which borders on the line between contemporary and science fiction. Some of the reasons why I picked this up were 1) written by Leah Thomas, who also wrote Because You'll Never Meet Me and 2) it reminds me of Shaun Hutchinson's We Are the Ants, which I loved, and 3) this is totally my type of book, and I wasn't wrong about that.

When Light Left Us is a strange story about three siblings who, for a short period of time, were connected to each other via an alien given the name "Luz". Apparently, according to the book, "luz" translates to "light" from Spanish to English, hence the title of this book. But rather than starting from the beginning, the novel begins once the alien has left the bodies of the three main characters, Ana, Hank, and Milo. We see how the siblings have to deal without Luz, who unfortunately did not leave them unscathed both mentally and physically.

To be honest, right from the start I was a bit wary, and the confusing beginning did not help whatsoever. Because the reader is introduced to the characters after Luz left, it's confusing as to why Ana is taping her eyes open because every blink hurts her, or that Milo needs headphones to escape the loudness of the silence. The writing itself felt convoluted, maybe to convey an air of strangeness; it felt like the author was trying way harder to make the writing more descriptive than it needed to be.

Yet, somehow, the more I read on and got to know the characters, the more I was invested. For once, there's a parent actually present and involved in her childrens' lives, Maggie. We also get chapters solely focused on her as well, which I actually enjoyed. The further along I got in the book, the more I learned about Ana's, Hank's, and Milo's struggles, and also how the presence of Luz affected them.

When Light Left Us does a phenomenal job weaving together a story that ties together real-world issues, with out of world issues. I've never read anything quite like this, and I'm pretty surprised that the story and the characters grew on me. The ending, like the book, was also a bit strange yet had some thrill to it, which I greatly appreciated but did not anticipate. The only thing really going against it is the weak and confusing start, but other than that it's two thumbs up from me!

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