Title: The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World #1)
Author: London Shah (Debut)
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopian
Release Date: October 29th 2019 from Disney Hyperion
Format: Kindle ARC via NetGalley
Goodreads Synopsis: Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.
At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.
Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.
When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.
Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no quotations will be used in this review*
Who doesn’t like the idea of a YA book set at the bottom of the ocean? I know that when I heard about this debut novel, I was anxious to read it and love it. So when I got approved for the ARC, I was over the moon. Plus it has a British Muslim main character, just like the author herself, so what’s not to love? Well, sadly, this was another book that failed to keep my interest for a few reasons.
DNF @ 22%
The major problem I had with this book was the world building. I couldn’t imagine what this underwater world looked like, especially the underwater London setting. You can see the city on the cover, looking like it’s protected by some type of possible bubble. But the descriptions of the world are very sparse. The author never uses enough descriptive words for how the buildings look, how the ocean ecosystem is around the city and even if the building structures are different underwater compared to how they were on dry land. The only descriptions I really got was the details of what some of the submarines looked like (shaped like an animal or a fancy carriage), buildings are worn and decorated with moss and types of fish that swim by, but that’s it. There wasn’t any flourish with this setting to make it unique but also immersive. When you can’t really picture what you can see in the book, that doesn’t keep my attention.
The second problem I had was the writing style. If you know some of my reading preferences, then you will know that I’m not a huge fan of first person POV stories. While it can work sometimes, it often feels like too much telling instead of showing. A big example of this problem was during the first race that you get in the beginning. Leyla participates in the first race of this marathon. But the whole time, the action feels very bland. She’s often isolated from the other contestants, but when something happens, it’s over so fast. She hardly suffers any challenges from the other contestants in this race. The writing style makes it so that her mind is telling us every single detail instead of showing us. She has to win, something hits her submarine and she has to keep going…stuff like that. Nothing felt exciting during this race. With all of this “telling” in her head, it never offered any interesting moments to keep reading. There were also some sentences that read like sentence fragments, so I do feel like it needed some editing.
While this book has a couple great ideas, this never pulled me in. The race that does happen doesn’t feel exciting at all and with hardly any challenges for Leyla, I didn’t care to pick it back up. I am very much a writing style and world building type reader; those two things really make a book unique, exciting or intense to the plot. The plot sounds great in the synopsis, but nothing besides that motivated me. While I could possibly give this a chance again in the future, it didn’t do anything for me right now. I do think this book is important and if it does sound really cool to you, do check it out!
Rating: N/A since I didn’t finish
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Do you know of similar books that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!