Monday, February 1, 2010

Book Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitecomb

Title: A Certain Slant of Light

Author: Laura Whitecomb

Pages: 288

Received from: store


In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen--terrified, but intrigued--is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

Helen is Light.

For over 130 years she has wondered the earth, clinging to various hosts in order to escape passage into hell--or, at least, her version of it. Her current host, a young high school English teacher named Mr. Brown, is growing more distant from the novel he and (un beknowist to him) Helen have been working on. One day in class, a boy looks at Helen. Sees her.

Not since her days among the living has a human seen or felt her. The boy, seventeen year old Billy, had been in Mr. Brown's class all year and thus far seemed as normal as any other student. But he soon reveals himself to be James, a WWI vet who was once Light, but took possession of the body when Billy's soul left it. James teaches Helen and soon she's Jenny, daughter of two religious zealots whos soul was driven out by sheer supression. Together, the two embark on an impossible romance while learning about the hosts they possess.

Oh em gee, y'all. I was seriously digging A Certain Slant of Light. From the first sentence I was drawn in with Helen and her undevoted love for those she haunts. And that really is the first thing you'll notice while reading; the love and appreciation Helen has, both when she's Light and when she's in the body of Jenny. It was refreshing to read a YA without a whine-tastic protag. who is constantly mocking her surroundings.

Kay, so I really think A Certain Slant of Light is about the idea of life after death and exploring the possibilities of it beyond religion. It incorporates the fear and the redemption and even the God-fearing aspects of heaven and hell, but there is a certain...ambiguity to it that leaves it firmly on the fence. Which is great, because I can not stomach ghost stories fudged with religious undertones.

The most shining aspect of A Certain Slant of Light is the relationship between James and Helen. While on paper it may seem as though their romance falls under the irritating Love at First Sight trope, it really is quite logical. Imagine, if you will, wondering the earth for decades, surrounded by people who can niether see nor hear you, swallowed by the despair of an eternity as such, when suddenly--le gasp!--someone can see you! Would you not love them, for taking away this all-consuming loneliness? I sure as hell would. And this, friends, is where Stef Meyer went wrong.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Also: I got nothing. Ooh! I know!



InABox said...

I'm so glad you gave this a 9 out of 10. I've been waffling over it for months now because the reviews have been mixed, but you've convinced me to go get it!

Hagelrat said...

Sounds really unusual and fantastic.

alana said...

I've been wanting to read this for a while too but I kept putting off. Got to change that.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

This sounds so intriguing! Glad it's such a good read!

robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) said...

This sounds so interesting! I remember reading about it when it came out a few years ago.

Lauren said...

I adore this book, so it's fantastic to see it getting such an appreciative review from you. I've heard rumours there's going to be a companion novel too... *so* excited!

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