The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs – BOOK REVIEW
Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.
Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations? The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink—and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption.
*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way*
So, gahhh, I had very mixed opinions about this book! I feel that some aspects were very well executed and others not so much.
Things I liked:
Tragedies mentioned: I thought it was great to have a book which focused predominantly on past and present tragedy events. There was clearly a lot of research which went into writing this book and I haven’t read a book which talked about bombings, gunnings etc before and I thought it offered a unique twist to a YA book, especially as it is such a contemporary issue at the moment. I’ve read a few reviews that didn’t like the fact that it mentioned these, perhaps because it came as a shock to them and they weren’t expecting it, but I think it was dealt with in a sensitive manner. I liked the insight into a US perspective (I’m from the UK) and how such a big issue it has become. Definitely worth picking up if you are interested in that sort of thing!
The setting and timing: The majority of this novel was set over a morning (although there are flashbacks throughout from various characters) and I really liked this. It was almost like seeing events in real time. I think it would make a great film visually, especially as you would be able to see all the characters and the tension created over this several hour period.
The writing style: As I just mentioned, I thought the writing was very careful in how they brought up these events. The writing flowed well, it was simple to follow and understand, despite the 7 different perspectives and it was a lot easier to distinguish between characters than I anticipated. I enjoyed the style so am probably going to look into Sarah Comb’s other novel, Breakfast Served Anytime, to see if I would enjoy reading that too.
Things I wasn’t a fan of:
The 7 different perspectives: I usually love books which are told through multiple perspectives but SEVEN different ones just really didn’t work for me. Although I could distinguish between them further into the novel, I felt it followed too many sub-plots and ‘smaller’ characters who didn’t really bring that much to the overall plot (the teacher for example). For me, it would have been better if there was 4 or so perspectives and followed them in more depth. Some of the characters only had several chapters which felt a bit pointless.
The switch of focus: I don’t really know how to word this but there appeared to be a switch of focus from the beginning of the novel compared to the rest. Initially, the reader was learning about April’s rare condition where she can remember everyday of her life and events that happened on those days, which brought a unique trait to the main character. I was really intrigued to learn more about this condition but it seemed to be have forgotten as quickly as it was mentioned. Throughout, there were small references and memories, but with such a high-pace plot, I don’t think it was used as effectively as it could have been (if anything, it probably would have been better to leave it out altogether). I do, however, think that would be a FANTASTIC idea for a different novel – I’d be really intrigued to read it! I just don’t think it worked well in this novel when there were so many other things going on.
Overall, this book was ‘okay’ – I was intrigued in the storyline and I did find it gripping in places but it didn’t ‘wow’ me like I thought it would. I would recommend reading it if it sounds like something you’d be interested in or if you were looking for a YA book which was a little bit different to the usual (in terms of focus and plot). A novel that I enjoyed reading with unique main characters, even if there are a lot of them!