Thursday, June 2, 2011

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 304 (hardcover)
To Be Published: June 28th, 2011 by Dutton
Recommended for: anyone up for a fantastic, unique speculative fantasy

My Take:

I really loved how this book breaks the mold.  Everything, from the beautiful complexity and sheer wonderful impossibility of the story world, to the characters and even the way everything unfolds is such a refreshing deviance from the "YA paranormal formula" which so many books follow these days (there isn't a love triangle...gasp!).  Dawn Metcalf's writing is as beautiful as that eye-catching cover-- so flowing and just descriptive enough to leave the best parts, both pretty and ugly, to our imaginations.  It took me maybe twenty pages to decide I loved this book and get past the confusion, but once I did, I became irrevocably obsessed with it.

Consuela sees herself as an ordinary teenage girl: confident and happily average.  Her greatest challenge as the story opens is trying to find a pair of jeans which fits decently-- because none of them ever do, if you live under a rock and haven't already noticed.  But Consuela soon makes a incredible and impossible discovery-- far from being an average teenager, she is one of the chosen few people in the world who belongs to a twisted and spectacular realm where time has little reign, simply called the Flow, as much as she does to her mortal existence.  Consuela finds her alter-ego-- or perhaps another part of herself-- in Bones, as she slips off her own skin and, quite accidentally, begins to explore the Flow in her bare bones, donning "skins" made of everything under the sun as she experiments with her new-found powers.  She learns that she is a sort of Guardian, driven to save those who are not yet destined to die, but veer off course towards that path anyway.  

Consuela's ability is freeing and unlike anything she's ever imagined, but she finds she's far from the only one in the Flow with otherworldly powers.  There is a sort of loose government in this strange world, policed by a mysterious girl called the Watcher-- or just Sissy, if you like.  Consuela is entranced by V, a striking fellow resident of the Flow whose ability centers around traveling through the mirrors which connect our world and the Flow.  Not so much Tender, whose charismatic exterior belies a darkness both repulsive and pitiable.  Even as a series of murders devastate the balance of her new-found world, Consuela becomes aware that her old life may be in jeopardy of being lost... and that the one skin she can no longer seem to slip seamlessly into is her own.    

The idea of having Consuela's gift-- the ability to shed your skin, shed all the preconceptions and misconceptions and baggage that is your physical existence and to become, essentially, a skeleton of a person, characterized by only your own actions and to be free in that way... well, I could get even more long-winded with it, going on about how thought-provoking it was for me and whatnot.  But I think for the sake of not boring everyone out of their skulls, let me just say that it's pretty darn awesome.  Consuela is a fantastic heroine; I loved the way her actions spoke volumes more than her words and thoughts. (This book is written in third-person, which is slightly unusual for YA, but it definitely worked.)  

All of the teens in the Flow have been drastically changed by events, often tragedies, which altered them in their mortal lives, and I loved the way their pasts reflected in their abilities and personalities.  Sissy, the Watcher, was another great character, and though I don't want to give her particular talent away, let's just say I was as delighted as I was a wee bit grossed-out.  Tender... is one of those rare villains who really came to life for me, and actually probably my favorite character after Consuela herself.  I cannot put into words how spectacularly the story unfolds, nor can I really write a review which does Luminous justice.  So just trust me on this one: it's good.  Really good.  You should read it.

Cover: 5/5 (gorgeous)
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

*Quick heads-up: tomorrow I'll be posting an interview with Dawn Metcalf!  Because of course I absolutely had to interview her.  Stay tuned...*


Tiffany said...

Great review! This one looks so good, not to mention the cover is gorgeous. This one is definitely on my wish list :)

Lea said...


I am sooo happy you liked this book, I have not read it yet but I had it featured in one of my "Waiting on Wednesdays" and really cannot wait to get my hands on it! I love, love, love the beautiful cover and I thought the storyline sounded very unique and removed from the more typical YA genres and themes that we run across all the time.

Your review has totally increased my interest in this book! Thanks,

Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland

~Valen~ said...

I have been waiting to read this book and of course I preordered it, but it hasn't arrived yet . . .but, once it does, I will devour it!! Great and thorough review Kat, as always.

Laura (All of Everything) said...

This sounds so amazing! Great review--sounds like a must read for sure.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, there, Kat!

What a delight it was for me to read this review! It's beautifully written! I greatly enjoyed the way you analyzed the plot and character, as well as your writing style. Everything just flowed! (I really didn't intend a pun, but there it

Seriously, I LOVED this review! This book sounds absolutely fantastic, and, as others have commented, has such a beautiful cover! I'm going to have to get my eager little bookworm's hands on it!! YES!!!

Thanks for sharing this TERRIFIC review!! : )

Maria @

Maria Behar said...

A little typo...I meant to write "characters", not "character". Rats!

Annette said...

I have really been interested in this book just because of the cover. Glad to here it's also a great story! Thanks! Can't wait to get ahold of this!

Kat said...

@Lea-- Yes, the cover just has to win the Most Gorgeous Cover of the Year Award. If there is such an award, and there should be! This book is beautiful inside and out. :)

@Maria-- Lol, you have me blushing. :) It's always easier to review a book you're passionate about. Don't worry about typos-- I can find a typo or two in 90% of my reviews. Hope you enjoy the book!

@Valen-- You don't have long to wait-- less than a month now! I'm going to be ordering a non-ARC copy myself, since I gave mine to another blogger.

Maggie Desmond-O'Brien said...

I've been dying to read this one ever since I first heard about it last year. Glad it lived up to expectations! =)

Aylee said...

Definitely intrigued that you say this book breaks the mold of paranormal YA. It sure sounds like it does, I mean, what a concept! Glad you loved it. I have a feeling I will too :)

Marie said...

Hi i'm a new follower :).

I hard great things about this book and your review makes me want to read it !

The cover is beautiful !

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