by Estelle Laure
To be published by HMH
on December 22, 2015
Source: eARC for review from Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: Can the best thing happen at the worst time? Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother.
My take: I can usually tell if a book is for me after the first couple chapters, and This Raging Light had me worried from the get-go. I finished it, but my opinion didn't change. Here's the lowdown.
For me as a reader, this book was voice-y ... in the wrong kind of way. Years ago, I went to a lecture given by a very well-known lifestyle blogger and she said something that has stuck with me: a strong voice both attracts and repels. Voice-y books evoke those kinds of strong reactions in me. If a book's narrative voice feels authentic, I'm in love, and if not, reading that book feels like hearing nails on a chalkboard inside my head for 300 pages. I appreciate poetic writing, but in this case it just didn't resonate with me. Also, I didn't think Lucille's voice sounded anything like a real teenager. She would say things ("I made my whole self very still") that sounded more to me like something a small child would say. There were other characters whose dialogue just about drove me up all four walls. To me, quirk is like salt: it's fantastic until there's too much of it, and then everything is unpalatable.
I thought there was way too much plot. Lucille and her younger sister Wren have family trouble, and I had a lot of sympathy for them over that. But then there's a complicated romance. And friendship issues. And a mystery. Finally, there was a dramatic accident that had nothing to do with anything else. At one point, one of the characters runs down all the stuff that's been happening and then says, "I have had enough." Me: slow clap.
This is my definition of a "ugh" romance. Not only does the main character fall in love with the twin brother of her best friend, the guy also has a very serious girlfriend. Ugh - why? Female characters, is it so much to ask that you find a teenage guy who is single and available? The romantic scenes between Lucille and Digby also struck me as awkward and cringe-y. Maybe that was intentional, but I found those parts hard to read.
There was an unresolved ending. After all that plot, almost none of it was resolved. Sigh.
Still, I can see on Goodreads that people are having very different reactions to this one, some extremely positive. So don't take my word for it -- if this sounds like something you'd like, give it a try! And if you read this and liked it, please give your take in comments!