The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew
|The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Assuredly not your standard dystopian fare, The Light That Gets Lost finds despair and anguish but also love and loyalty in blood and guts and mud. It might not sound poetic, but it is.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: November 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
At just seven years of age, Trey witnesses the murder of his parents and the grievous injuring of his older brother. He escapes the attack by hiding in a wardrobe. After that, he is taken into care.
We meet Trey again years later, as an adolescent. He's on his way to Camp Kernow, a work camp for recalcitrant teens. For Trey, this is the realisation of a longstanding plan - he believes that the man who murdered his parents works at the camp and he intends to find him and kill him. In Trey's mind, things are simple: find the man, kill him, escape, rescue his brother from the care home, live happily ever after.
Of course, it's not quite like that. Outside the camp, society is falling to pieces. And inside the camp, things are run with military precision. The Preacher is rarely visible. When he is there, he is guarded. Nobody has ever escaped.
And other bodies begin to fill the space between Trey and his goal. Kay, a taciturn girl who awakens prospects of love. Lamby, his bunkmate, who sees something he shouldn't, and needs protection. And a pair of twins who offer friendship without ever speaking a word. And Wilder: the camp bully, who watches Trey like a hawk. What does he know?
Oh, sigh. I loved this story. I really did.
A word of warning: if you are looking for the comfort of dystopia-by-numbers in its currently fashionable commercial form, you won't find it here. There's no world-building; just a few hints about the society outside Camp Kernow. There's no evil villain to be vanquished; just human nature showing itself. There's no exposition; just metaphor and impressionistic throwaways.
I say just but I don't mean just. Because The Light That Gets Lost is a wild and dangerous story and a beautiful one, too. I loved it more than I can explain to you here and more than I can give justice to here. It's rough and taciturn and frank and, at times, utterly shocking. But it's also deeply, deeply intimate. Carthew writes in a Cornish dialect scattered through with new words for her new and dangerous world. It's lyrical with striking imagery - like a Ted Hughes poem. But the distinctive voice never lets go of the story or the characters. I rooted for Trey with everything I had.
Assuredly not your standard dystopian fare, The Light That Gets Lost finds despair and anguish but also love and loyalty in blood and guts and mud. It might not sound poetic, but it is.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan has a similarly striking, rough but poetic, voice. You might also enjoy Sea of Whispers by Tim Bowler. We've also enjoyed All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew at Amazon.com.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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