“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.”
-Synopsis taken from Goodreads
Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!
“The truth is that I couldn’t not be in love with the world if I tried.”
Taking place in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy, this book follows seven characters that are about to enter an even more personal tragedy in this already tumultuous atmosphere. With a focus on emotion, Sarah Combs explores the individual behind mass tragedy and the layers of feeling created by a single moment.
I’ve had an advanced copy of this novel waiting for me on my kindle for a while now, and I have to admit I really regret having put it off that long. The Light Fantastic was both everything I expected from a novel in this setting, but also everything I didn’t expect. It is emotional and dramatic, dark and harrowing, but at the same time, it carried the light of human experience as well, the hope and optimism that most of us carry, and a love of life alongside the fear of death.
It constructs this whirlwind of emotion and experience through seven characters, all different in their background, personality, and way of thinking, and these differences come through clearly in each perspective. No two seem to run together, as all speakers focus on different external and internal parts of the tale to tell, but at the same time they create a unified front of human experience, create a whole for the reader to see the story in. Additionally, the characters are not truly divided, as there are always connections between them. It removes any strict distinctions attached to the character by their backgrounds or actions, and rather than there being some who are good and some who are bad, it is more of a web of action and inaction and what led to events transpiring. Additionally, even though the seven characters are spread all over the country, they are still strongly connected. There are whispers of past acquaintances as well as common themes and lines that play into each of the seven narratives. It adds further to that “web,” and shows how truly connected everything is.
My favorite part of this book had to be the writing. It’s written as a stream of consciousness rather than ordered into structured and planned sentences. While this has its downsides and makes it an informal sort of writing, it pairs really well with the events in The Light Fantastic. Since the focus of this novel is emotional, rather than the events actually taking place, this style fits perfectly and helps the reader feel what is going on, rather than just see it.
My only issue with the book is the ending itself. While what happened and the way it happened all worked well with the story, and the reveals of the “who” behind certain events also worked, the way it was presented somehow didn’t fully impact me. The entire book is an entire pathway up, of increasing intensity, but the ending didn’t seem to be a final explosion of this build up. I won’t say that the ending fizzled, but rather that the final climax did not fully match the amount of build up it was given. It left me wanting more still from the story, some greater revelation or understanding, but regardless this didn’t impact my enjoyment of the overall novel too much.
In the end, I do still highly recommend this novel. It’s a quick yet intense read and tackles issues still relevant to today. Even though the novel is a few years old at this point, it feels as if it could have been written in today’s America, which is part of why this book affected me as much as it did.