The Light
by D.J. Machale

A Review by Scott finished May 25, 2010

This review will contain spoilers!

In many sentences:

I have two major complaints about this book. First of all, I have read (or rather, listened to) the first 3 books in the Pendragon series, also written by D.J. MacHale. While they aren't great (they can feel immature at times, and the depiction of Bobby can often be whiney), I think the overall story arc is entertaining, so I continue to listen to them. Obviously I enjoy them enough to want to read another series by the same author. What I wasn't expecting, however, was for The Light to be the exact same in terms of tone, perspective, style, and voice. Honestly, aside from the fact that they are going through different adventures, Bobby and Marsh feel the exact same as characters. None of this is helped by the fact that the actual writing style is the exact same sort of dorky, yet aloof teen sarcasm. It's not bad, but it's not great, and it is particularly disappointing to see MacHale using it in the exact same way with what should be two completely different characters and stories.

The other thing that really annoyed me was the way flashbacks were written in this book. As opposed to having a different style, perspective, or tone, they were the exact same as the non-flashback moments. The only way you even knew to expect something different was the text was italicized. Ultimately, it just strikes me as lazy writing to use italics to set apart the writing instead of good, creative writing. I understand it's probably a lot more difficult to do what I'm asking, but it I don't think it's unreasonable to expect it from bestselling authors, even if what they write is aimed at a young adult audience. Looking over this, both my complaints are pretty much about the same thing - a lack of creativity and depth in MacHale's writing style. I will most likely continue with this series, but I will be listening to them, rather than reading bound copies.

I think it's important to note that while my two complaints are significant, and result in me not recommending this book, they don't render the book entirely unreadable. While MacHale might not show a lot of versatility and creativity in his style or technique, he does have a lot of interesting ideas. Just as the Pendragonbooks make for some entertaining reading, The Light has some fun scares and interesting plot twists. Everything so far is logical and reasonable, within the universe of the book, and MacHale clearly has an end goal in mind. From the tease at the end of this book (that the second will probably be called "The Black" and be written from Coop's perspective) I will say that I am reservedly optimistic. I imagine it will be full of clever an entertaining ideas, but as has been the case with everything else written by MacHale, I'm afraid that we won't be able to tell the difference between something written from Coop's perspective, and something written from Marsh's. In fact, having this transition exist within the same series may make this lack of style versatility even more pronounced. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Originally Published Jan. 1, 2010

Hardcover edition:

341 pages - April 1, 2010

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