Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Review: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

Title: The Light of the Fireflies
Author: Paul Pen
Translated by: Simon Bruni
Publisher:  AmazonCrossing
Pages: 338
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns.

He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away.

A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out…
Upon finishing this book, I am left with a sense of 'is that it?' I felt quite sick to my stomach whilst reading it, and it definitely did not go how I thought it would.

It is about a strange family that live in a basement. None of them are named. The majority of the book is told from the little boy's perspective as he was born in the basement, and knows no different. It strongly reminded me of Room by Emma Donoghue but The Light of the Fireflies is way weirder. For starters, everyone has horrendous facial scarring with the older sister having to wear a mask 24/7 because her face is the most destroyed. The sister is also heavily pregnant even though there is only her two younger brothers, her mother and father, and her grandmother who are in the basement with her. Yup, ick.

Lots of gross stuff is described in this book from the gag inducing descriptions of rats, facial disfigurements, to smells, bodily functions and insects. I felt pretty revolted throughout the entire book to be honest. Do not read this whilst eating.

Of course the reasons why the family is in the basement is slowly revealed, and it was quite implausible in my opinion. In fact, it was frankly ridiculous. The ending is very strange. Nothing is resolved and sadly that affected my enjoyment of the book overall. It is a very weird and bizarre story which would be great for some people but it just was not for me.

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