My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Not that impressed, not even considering this book was well narrated by Nick Podehl, who’s one of my favorite audiobook readers. That was probably the main reason I picked this up and it was my first read from D.J. MacHale (I do have the first book in the Pendragon series, but I haven’t read it yet, and I’ll likely remedy that as soon as I can do so).
This book began with a nice creepy feel, but the repetitiveness of the text and the tendency to overtell/dictate events ruined the story for me. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the characters or scenario, but I’m weary of the style if it continues like this. I’ll likely follow the series, but the introduction here left much to be desired.
I definitely see sparks of intrigue in the first book in D.J. MacHale’s “Morpheus Road” series, but there’s much in “The Light” that doesn’t measure up to sorts. For me, the biggest deterrent to this creepy, supernatural mystery wasn’t the characters, whom I found charming and worth following through the odds and ends of the story. For the record, I really liked Marshall, Cooper, and Sydney. It was largely the way the story was told, which involved a LOT of telling of events as they happened and the narrator – Marshall Seaver – dictating some obvious plot points that shortchanged the surprise and intimacy that this story had to offer. Sure, I was fine with being in Marsh’s head, but the narrative style reminded me of what bothered me about action books like Lore’s “I Am Number Four”. I almost wanted to say that the story shouldn’t lay out all of Marshall’s suspicions and just let him gradually discover things as they happen. There was also a part of me that felt that certain conclusions didn’t automatically lead up to certain events, and it took a bit too long to recognize why Marsh was lead on all of these different loops and runarounds in Marsh’s attempt to figure out what happened to Cooper and why Marsh kept seeing the character he’d drawn through his the horrifying visions.
The story revolves around Marsh trying to plan a perfect summer with his best friend Cooper, but when Cooper gets into certain trouble, it leaves Marsh devastated and left by his lonesome when Cooper travels with family to “getaway” in order to correct his behavior. But things are complicated when Cooper goes missing for a couple of days, and somewhat tied into Cooper’s disappearance, strange things start happening around Marshall that have him running scared and thinking he’s “crazy”. I would’ve appreciated less focus on the “crazy” inclinations (because those I think were carried a bit too much and slowed the momentum of the story significantly), but when Sydney enters the picture and Marsh joins forces with her to try to figure out what happened to her brother, the story picks up in an interesting way. I’ll admit I liked some of the dark imagery portrayed in this story, and almost felt like it could’ve been amped up a little as far as the tension was concerned. The tension was broken mostly on the part of Marshal telling details that could’ve been shown as the two of them start uncovering details. Ultimately, however, their discovery of details surrounding Cooper’s disappearance have them making horrifying discoveries and going through a number of harrowing experiences that I appreciated following. Nick Podehl’s narration in Marshal’s voice is especially potent and kept me reading through until the end. I’m also concerned by the sparse worldbuilding and underdevelopment of the players in the conflict. There wasn’t as much time to get to know them and really delve into the character experiences as much as there could’ve been, given the style of the prose and the overfocus on details that really could’ve stood by themselves in implied notations or simply for what they were worth on their own.
There were still many questions in this story that weren’t answered as far as why Marsh is being targeted and by whom, but I suspect a lot of this will be developed as the series moves forward, and the book does end on an intriguing note with Cooper being a key player of events. I’ll admit even with the telling style of this work, I’m curious to see what comes of these characters, and I’m invested in the journey. I am moving forward to see where this series goes, but I think the cons of this story really shortchanged this first book in this series by quite a bit.
Overall score: 2/5