I requested this book from NetGalley because I was in the mood for a short book, preferably a contemporary, that could be read in as few sitting as possible. This book delivered on all of those fronts. It was exactly the kind of book you need to get out of a reading slump! There are a lot of wonderful things about ‘This Raging Light’, and some parts that left me in the dark. Let’s discuss.
Firstly, I was unsure of the main character, Lucille’s age. At the beginning, the book was reading very much like a Middle Grade. (Let me just explain the family background, my crush and my best friend, laying out all the plot points for later in the novel.) Because of this, I thought she was fourteen, maximum, so when it came out later that was was verging on her 18th birthday, I was surprised. Although Lucille has to take on adult responsibilities, I couldn’t quite get that Middle Grade voice out of my head.
Lucille, as far as characters go, is not unlikeable. She’s brave, loyal to her friends, and steps up to the plate when no one else will. The main story arc is that Lucille has to care for her younger sister, Wren, (again, she’s nine but read like a five year old) because her Mum’s disappeared and her Dad’s in a mental facility. Things aren’t really going well for Lucille, and you understand that from the beginning.
I absolutely loved the flashback scenes that led to her Dad being taken away. Lucille’s character traits were enforced, as someone who would jump in to save another, that really emphasises her bravery towards the end of the novel.
However, I did feel that some of the scenes, namely the date between Lucille and Digby and Eden’s accident, were a little random, like they’d just been plucked from the air as concepts, with no idea how they’d fit coherently into the story. Although these scenes were two of my favourites in the novel, because of the emotional intensity and tension behind them, they felt out of place in what had so far been a plain book.
I didn’t enjoy the romance between Lucille and Digby. He was already in a relationship when they started to get involved, and that’s never something I’ll condone. I ended up relating more to Elaine, his girlfriend, and how she must have felt, rather than the teenage angst surrounding Lucille and Digby and whether they’d get together or not.
Overall, I’d give this book 2.5 stars. I’ve talked about the few problems I had, but for a debut author, this was an excellent burst into the YA scene. The writing style held a lot of potential for beauty and I have a feeling a lot of people are going to love this book. With a young carer protagonist, this is well worth a read.