Book Reviews

[review] Darkest Light – Hiromi Goto

Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC received from Penguin Canada

The nightmarish adventure picks up sixteen years after Melanie’s return in Half World. With a new dark hero whose unlikely companions are a heartless cat and a self-destructive Neo Goth girl, Darkest Light is a compelling journey through despair in a desperate search for redemption.

Tell Me More: Hiromi Goto’s Half World is an exercise in harnessing one’s imagination. Not since Graceling have I found a more richly imagined fantasy world, though it is quite darker than Kristin Cashore’s work. I was glad to have Darkest Light on my shelf immediately after reading HW.

Reasons to Read: Reincarnation in YA tends to go along the route of star-crossed lovers who’ve been given a second chance. It also tends to be treated quite lightly, almost like a deus ex machina that ties all the problems up in a pretty little bow. Not so with Gee and his conflicting natures. Without spoiling it for anyone, I was quite impressed with the way Goto took on the challenge of making reincarnation about the person, and not about their past.

The language in this book is also astonishing in its beauty. I never doubted for a second that Gee’s world is one where strange things can and do happen. The best fantasy stories lift you into a cloud that obstructs any outside distractions and let me tell you, my family had a really difficult time snapping me out of this novel. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I couldn’t find anything to dislike about Goto’s writing style, though I will admit that readers unfamiliar with epic fantasy novels may have a hard time. The story is worth sticking around for, and the characters are brilliantly rendered.

That’s Not All:

  • No family is perfect, but Gee’s Older Sister and Popo are just the right balance for his darker side. Their relationships are heartwarming and honest.
  • Diversity is the name of the game, with LGBTQ characters that never fall into stereotypes.

The Final Say: Darkest Light and its companion novel Half World are two Canadian jewels that will move readers’ imaginations and hearts long after the final page.

Be sure to visit Hiromi Goto at her website.

You can check out Darkest Light on Goodreads and order it from Chapters.


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