The Light Fantastic (HB)
Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.
Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan's eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April's rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about?
Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class' interest, but she can't keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier.
Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins machinations?
The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption."
Both the emotionally awkward mastermind of the shooting plot and those hiding from active shooters at their schools also share their perspectives in accounts that are poignant and realistic. The sheer number of narrators means that readers will need to pay close attention in order to understand how the various strands link together, but lovely writing, replete with literary references, will spur them on...A worthwhile, chilling novel that makes demands of its audience and rewards them richly in return.--Kirkus Reviews In a psychologically taut novel structured in short vignettes that alternate among multiple viewpoints, Combs (Breakfast Served Anytime) delves into the thoughts of could-be killers and their prey to show unique frailties, as well as a common yearning for happiness...the narrative voices are genuine and moving. Unexpected moments of tenderness and salvation cast a shining light into the dark realities presented.--Publishers Weekly Poignant and powerful, the real-life issues in this book reside in the back of even the most innocent person's mind. The perspective chapters take the reader into the lives and minds of seven very different people who are trying to navigate the same frightful world of violence and peer pressure...Desperately shouting at the reader, The Light Fantastic is the antidote for the -this-could-never-happen-to-me- syndrome. This book yearns for its audience to actively make changes in order to create a safer, happier world, one where people feel supported rather than alone.--VOYA The prose, pacing, and interweaving of tales in this work are expertly wrought, with connections radiating among chapters and lives. Each connection is like a thread wanting to be pulled, and the ultimate tangle of the narrative is very satisfying to unravel.--School Library Journal Combs' language is lyrical, and each of the many narrators has a distinctive rhythm and voice. A teacher counsels a troubled student. The mastermind plots. The story spans only a few hours yet never feels rushed, increasing tension for the reader. Its literary execution and breadth of perspectives set this novel apart.--Booklist Online Readers who enjoy Cormier, as well as those who relish the puzzle of weaving together multiple narrative strands and allusions into an emotionally impactful whole, will appreciate this exploration of contemporary teen experience, fraught with despair and recovery.--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Author Sarah Combs has tackled a heavy topic with this novel, and she has done it well.--Washington Independent Review of Books With the added pressure of loaded guns in the hands of teens across the country, this unique portrayal of school shootings is a stand-out read.--Cleaver Magazine At the end of the day, this was a near perfect book...The Light Fantastic is the type of book that merits sharing, to discussion, and hopefully learning as well.--Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile (blog)
Sarah Combs is the author of Breakfast Served Anytime, her debut novel. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky.