**I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.**
Link (Shadow of Light Book #1) by Summer Wier
Published: September 29th, 2015 by Reuts Publications
Genres: Young adult, romance, paranormal, science fiction
Trigger Warnings: Violence
Pages: 318 pgs
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
For seventeen-year-old Kira, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being surrounded by friends and huddled beside a campfire deep in the woods. And with a birthday in the peak of summer, that includes late night swims under the stars.
Or at least, it used to.
Kira’s relaxing contemplation of the universe is interrupted when a piece of it falls, colliding with her and starting a chain of events that could unexpectedly lead to the one thing in her life that’s missing—her father.
Tossed into a pieced-together world of carnivals and gypsies, an old-fashioned farmhouse, and the alluring presence of a boy from another planet, Kira discovers she’s been transported to the center of a black hole, and there’s more to the story than science can explain. She’s now linked by starlight to the world inside the darkness. And her star is dying.
If she doesn’t return home before the star’s light disappears and her link breaks, she’ll be trapped forever. But she’s not the only one ensnared, and with time running out, she’ll have to find a way to save a part of her past and a part of her future, or risk losing everything she loves.
Dreamy, fluid, and beautiful, Link pairs the mystery of science fiction with the minor-key melody of a dark fantasy, creating a tale that is as human as it is out of this world.
Since the dawn of space exploration, humanity has been continually asking many questions: is there life out there? What lies in wait for us beyond the edges of our planet? We’ve been making significant strides in recent years with the myriad space probes and satellites soaring through the cosmos, but it still takes nine years for something travelling from Earth to make it to Pluto — the furthest planet in our solar system. Despite all of the advances being made in the past half-century, it’s hard to tell when we’re going to be able to tell if our planet is the only hospitable one in the known universe. Well, unless, that is, we learn how to harness teleportation through black holes using the “shadow of light.” Since we can’t even convince politicians that climate change is real, I doubt we’ll get to that point any time soon.
But it’s that exact “impossible” scenario in which seventeen-year-old Kira finds herself after a star crash lands in her local lake as she’s taking a dip. After the impact, she wakes up in a world similar to her own, but instead of being surrounded by her friends at her birthday party, she ends up in the care of a mysterious — yet oddly beautiful — stranger. It doesn’t take Kira long to figure out that she’s able to shift between this world and her regular life on her home planet, Thaer. However, she learns that the only reason why she’s able to transport between the two is because of the rapidly-fading link created as a bridge once the star literally crashed her birthday party. Once the link is gone for good, she’s stuck in whichever dimension she’s in for the rest of her life. However, the mystery of her father’s disappearance many years ago still hangs in the back of her head; could it have something to do with the Shadow of Light she’s hearing about? What if the Shadow could be harnessed for evil?
One of the things that impressed me most about Link is its refreshingly unique plot. I’ve mentioned in the past my thoughts on the complete saturation of dystopian futures within the young adult genre; while some can argue that Link has its roots in the aforementioned genre, the ultimate journey through which the plot travels is far, far detached from what one would expect. It’s nice to see things take place outside of Post-Destruction Middle America — or on Earth in general, really. It’s interesting to see topics like clone planets and interdimensional travel covered outside the realm of a space opera. Furthermore, I love the descriptions Wier used to paint the scenes throughout the novel: “Beams of muted light floated in on rays of dust through windows,” “glowing spheres pouring intimate light over a quiet landscape.” Lyrical phrases such as these elegantly floated in the prose that made imagining Thaer and Asulon a breeze. The author really makes no secret of her ability to bend language to her will to create wonderful passages through the book. Although there is the old YA standby of a love triangle in this book, I didn’t find myself ultimately irritated by it like I do with most romantic subplots. The attraction between Kira and Zane is genuine and it doesn’t feel like a tired trope when they do declare their feelings for each other, since it was pretty much laid bare that it was going to happen within the first few pages. I also just really, really love Kira’s mom; she’s been through a lot in her life and Wier does an excellent job with her backstory to make her a sympathetic character. I hope we get to see more of her in the coming books.
There are a few bits that irked me from time to time while going through the book. One of the larger things — and I don’t know if this is intentional or not because the story never takes us to Earth — is that Wier kept swapping “astronomical” with “astrological” when talking about things happening in space. This was a common occurrence through the text. For those not in the know, “astronomical” pertains to things relating to astronomy — the study of the cosmos. “Astrological” refers to things related to the psudoscience of the connection of astronomical phenomena and human life. What further irritated me about this was that an entire scene played out between Kira’s friends Faye and Fischer where they explained the difference between the two. Playing into that, things started to get muddy every time Wier started to explain the physics behind some things like links between planets and the Black Hole dimension. While I appreciate her taking the time to try to explain these more complicated concepts to people who may not have a background in these particular sciences, I feel like a bit more revision would have cleared up the spottier areas. Like I have a vague idea of how the links are supposed to work, but it still doesn’t explain how each planet is chosen to set up a link, why only individual people are targeted to use links, and so forth. Maybe the next book will explain these concepts more, but here’s hoping.
To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect from this book just judging by the beautiful cover and synopsis, but I certainly was pleased with the end result. Wier truly has a great talent for storytelling that’s present in the way she writes her characters and scenes that make it an utter joy to get lost in the pages. However, there are a few snags when it comes to the physics of the story that might make liberal arts majors — such as myself — scratch their heads a bit to figure out the mechanics of the Shadow of Light. Overall, the book was a nice, refreshing young adult read that leaves me wanting more.
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