29 Jan 2024

Review: LIGHTLARK by Alex Aster


Author: Alex Aster
Series: Lightlark #1
Source: Kobo Plus
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: August 23, 2022

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Representation: queer relationships mentioned

Welcome to the Centennial.

Every 100 years, the island of Lightlark appears to host the Centennial, a deadly game that only the rulers of six realms are invited to play. The invitation is a summons—a call to embrace victory and ruin, baubles and blood. 

The Centennial offers the six rulers one final chance to break the curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. Each ruler has something to hide. Each realm’s curse is uniquely wicked. To destroy the curses, one ruler must die. Isla Crown is the young ruler of Wildling—a realm of temptresses cursed to kill anyone they fall in love with.

They are feared and despised, and are counting on Isla to end their suffering by succeeding at the Centennial. To survive, Isla must lie, cheat, and betray . . . Even as love complicates everything. 
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Content Warning: drug use (non consensual), on page sex scene, alcohol consumption, poisoning, drowning, falling from heights, blood, vomit

I waited what I felt like was enough time to read this without the hype or the controversy to be prevalent in my mind, but honestly this was just a bad book. None of the premise made any sense and it was trying to be too many things instead of focusing on what could have been the good part of this: breaking the curses and learning about magic. But with how many times I rolled my eyes, hated Isla, or thought that there were stupid decisions all around being made, I just can't give this more than one star.

There weren't "trials," there was barely any fear of being assassinated, and the fact that they get paired together was just convenient rather than being part of what made sense in the story. The ebook is 384 pages and I thought it was close to being done at the like 40% mark because of how fast the book was pacing through the Centennial.

I have so many thoughts about how stupid the characters were in general, but they really don't matter because the worldbuilding, or lack thereof, was so poorly done that I couldn't even focus on how much I hated the characters. The magic system could have been the redeeming part of this story, but instead it was poorly explained, important pieces of information were sprinkled throughout, and for how much they trained Isla to be a warrior, they didn't give her ANY information on the other magical elements or rulers. Beyond that, Isla had apparently been visiting the other magical areas (which is like page 1 of the story so not spoilers) but had so little knowledge of any of the history of the island or how the magic works together.

It just felt like so much of this was multiple ideas sewed together to make a semblance of a story rather than a thoughtful exploration of what it means to learn about yourself, your abilities, and the way you can work together to overcome obstacles. I wanted the negative reviews to just be because of the "controversy" of the novel but instead they were just right about how poorly this book was written and how well it was marketed.

I am going to read book 2, which I have heard basically nothing about. In fact, I didn't even know it was released. This is called a "saga" but I only see two books on Goodreads, so I'm interested to see if it ends up being a duology because of everything that happened.

I can't recommend this one at all. If you are looking for something similar, I would recommend The Night Circus or The Crown's Game. I can't believe I let this be the last book I read in 2023.

Have you read this or are you going to?

1 comment:

  1. The Centennial offers the six rulers one final chance to break the curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. Each ruler has something to hide. Each realm’s curse is uniquely wicked.


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