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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Light (Morpheus Road)
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
THREE QUICK POINTS
*Point 1: More of a creepfest than a gorefest. As far as horror goes, this would be labeled psychological horror rather than gory. There is some bloodletting, but it's not as much as you'd suspect.

*Point 2: So. Much. Tension. It just didn't stop. Right when you think all is well--BAM!--something else jumps out at you.

*Point 3: Twists & turns galore. Just when you think you're on the right path, that you've got it all figured out and the mystery is solved, you swerve and you're left wondering *what just happened?*

SHORT SYNOPSIS:
Marshall Seaver thinks he's going crazy. While his father is away in Las Vegas and his best friend, Cooper Foley, is at the lake with his parents, Marshall begins to see things that aren't there, and hear sounds that have no source, and the drawing of a character he created named Gravedigger has come alive to torment him. When it all becomes too much for Marshall to bear, he desperately tries to get to his best friend only to discover he'd gone missing.

Suddenly people begin dropping dead around him; other people are flying off the mental deep end without a parachute; and Gravedigger is telling Marshall he needs to walk the Morpheus Road. What is the Morpheus Road? And why Marshall? Those are the questions that Marshall tries to answer as he dodges life-threatening situations.

MY THOUGHTS:
Although this is the first book in the trilogy, I need to point out that it's a complete story in itself with the premise of another, bigger story lurking around the corner. A situation is presented and followed through to its climactic ending, but that ending is what opens up another mystery.

As far as character development goes, the book did an excellent job with the main characters. Marshall is a good kid through and through, although most would label him an immature geek through and through. He's a sixteen year old who isn't eager to get his license, likes video games, graphic novels, and model rockets--things that his peers don't seem to appreciate. But as he battles his demons, he grows into a different person and it unfolds naturally before our eyes.

And there's Sydney. Usually we see angst-ridden and brooding males, but this book flipped the script. She's snarky, sarcastic and virulent. In fact, I had no problem hating her...in the beginning. But as she is sucked into Marshall's dark adventure, she evolves into something human. And the chemistry between her and Marshall as their relationship progresses is nearly pitch-perfect.

Even (most of) the secondary characters, though not as fleshed-out as those two, had just enough depth to make them entertaining--including the villains.

The pace of the book alternated between quick and punchy and rambling and sedate. But those latter sections offered a nice respite from the heart-pounding action. It also offered a chance to try and piece together the mystery, as Marshall tried to as well. To top it off, this book was funny. There were multiple times when I found myself laughing out loud.

A few areas drifted into cliché, but they were forgivable when taken in context. And at the end of the book there was a single sentence in the epilogue which left me wide-eyed and slack-jawed wondering WTF happened and when is the next book coming out? In other words, it's a twist that I didn't see coming. (I'd share it if it weren't a huge spoiler.)

Also worthy of note, this book doesn't contain any swearing or substance abuse and the violence itself isn't that explicit. Overall, a great read, especially for people who appreciate psychological horror with a dash of mystery and suspense thrown in.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Marshall Seaver is looking forward to a summer of fun and relaxation, but it's not off to a great start. His widowed father has left him home alone while he travels to Las Vegas on business, and he got into a fight with his best (and only) friend Cooper right before Cooper left to go with his family to their lake house. So at first, the strange occurrences in his house late at night just freak Marsh out. But when he is faced with Gravedigger--a character Marsh created in his drawings--who is alive, real, and intent on killing him while mumbling about Morpheus Road, Marsh heads straight to Cooper, with the help of Coop's older sister Sydney. But by the time Marsh gets to the lake house, Cooper is missing, and it's becoming clear that nowhere is safe for Marsh, Sydney, and anyone else that knows about Gravedigger and the mysterious Morpheus Road.

D.J. MacHale's The Light, the first book in the Morpheus Road trilogy, is a bit slow to start, but full of near-death action sequences and plenty of sleuthing. The book starts off with the main character, Marsh, talking rather ambiguously about the events of the previous week, which he then details as the book starts, which will grab your attention and cause you to start asking questions right away. However, Marsh has a tendency to ramble as he is trying to figure out the many mysterious supernatural forces at work, which might lose more reluctant readers. As far as plots go, this one is complicated and asks many questions without divulging many questions (for example, it is never revealed what Morpheus Road is exactly), and The Light reads like a horror film, with the threat of death around every corner and countless spooky and perilous scenes, one right after another. The ending has a bit of a twist, and concludes with many questions and an epilogue from Cooper's point of view, a taste of what is to come in the sequel. Overall, this is a thrilling horror read that will have you on edge.

Cover Comments: The cover definitely matches the book's content: chilling and freaky. Exactly what I would expect to see on a movie poster for a horror movie. It's very fitting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I first got Morpheus Road: The Light in the mail, it was the first time I was hearing about it. I went in to the story with just the description on the back to go by. Man, was this in intense story! It is filled with action, so the pages moved quickly for me. My adrenaline was pumping throughout the whole read.

It didn't take me long to like the main character, Marsh. Marsh isn't the super hot bad boy. He is a normal teenager and, well . . . a geek. In the beginning of the story you can tell he is clinging on to his childhood. He wants to stay in the time of model rockets and graphic novels. I actually felt he came off more like 14 than 16 in the beginning. But his character grows a lot during the story. Marsh's best friend Cooper on the other hand is about the opposite of Marsh. He is all about taking risks and hanging out with girls. You don't get to see a lot of him before he goes missing, but MacHale has added flashbacks of the boy's friendship that helps you get more of a feel for him. I enjoyed watching Marsh and Cooper's sister Sydney slowly come closer together, even when they didn't notice.

There is a whole lot going in this story. You definitely need to pay attention to the details. Gravedigger is very creepy, but the things that are happening when he is around is what gave me the chills. I found myself up at night, swearing I heard water dripping or felt a breeze on my face. It didn't take me long to realize there was more than just a drawing of Marsh's coming to life going on. I enjoyed the suspense of trying to figure out what was causing everything.

I did feel like sometimes there was too much going on. There were so many details going on at some points that it was hard to see the direction. Even now there are some things that happened that I don't know how they tie in. But I have a feeling somethings were set up for the next book in the series.

The ending was awesome. It answered answered a lot of my questions, but then again it gave me more. The ending is when you see how complex the story actually is. The epilogue took me by surprise. It gives a glimpse into what we can expect from the next book, which makes me really excited for it! The Light was great start to what I feel will be a fantastic series. I can't wait to see what is in store for these characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love this story! Pendragon was awesome, so I had high hopes for this book. D.J.MacHale has done it again. It's not what I expected, but that's what I loved about it. The characters were so well developed, I felt like they were real teenagers from real life, or someone I'd meet at my school or something. Absolutely perfect. The story was thrilling, chilling, with action, suspense, dealings of the supernatural, drama, everything a book needs! I can't wait for the next book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Morpheus Road by D.J. MacHale is the first book in a projected YA horror trilogy, focused on young Marshall Seaver, who is being it seems is being haunted by his own artistic creation--a creepily menacing character he calls Gravedigger.

The story is a fast-paced read with a somewhat slow start as we're introduced to the main character and his best friend Cooper. The two are at one of those awkwardly painful adolescent friendship periods where one has leapt full-heartedly into the young adult world (Cooper) while the other is still staying safe on the outer edges of childhood (Marshall). Unfortunately, Cooper's jump into near-adulthood has landed him in trouble and as a consequence, his parents have decided to remove him from bad influences by taking him to their lake cottage for the summer, thus ruining Marshall's plans for the usual buddy-summer (though his ideas of summer fun and Cooper's had already clearly diverged).

The opening does a nice job of setting up the tension between the two, as well as between both of them and Cooper's older sister Sydney. It also sets up Marshall's social isolation, which rises not only out of his single friendship with Cooper but the recent death of his mother, an international photographer. Added to the tension of a possibly fracturing friendship and Marshall's still-tender grief is some suspense over Cooper's recent trouble and just how deep (and dangerous) that trouble may be.

The supernatural kicks in slowly at first, beginning when Marshall accidentally breaks a strange artifact his mother had picked up on her travels and given him as a present. Things really start to take off though when his father leaves for an out-of-town conference and Marshall is left home alone. The horror starts small--strange noises, odd images that turn out later to have possible explanations, but then soon enough neither the noises nor the visions can be easily explained away. When Marshall's Gravedigger (a character he's been sketching for some time) starts to show up, the horror builds to a full sense of terror and menace which only deepens when Cooper turns up missing. Eventually, Marshall and Sydney team up (reluctantly at first) to try and figure out what's happening around them as people start to disappear or die.
As mentioned, it's a fast read once one gets past the opening, which is slow only in relation to the rest of the book. And it should be slow, as MacHale takes the time to set up the characters and give us something/someone to care about. Marshall is especially sharply drawn as somewhat lost: a bit of a loner, someone who doesn't quite understand why those things he was doing just last year suddenly are "childish" or "uncool", a boy who doesn't quite get girls yet, a son whose lost his mother and hasn't come to terms with that loss or his new relationship with his father yet, a friend who doesn't quite understand why his friendship seems to be unraveling. Sydney is less developed, but is a clearly distinctive personality and more complex than she first appears. Cooper is the least-defined, but that's because he's given the least amount of space. Within that space, though, one gets a pretty good picture of him and that fine line he's trying to thread between child and adult. Adults are mostly non-existent or undeveloped, not surprising in a YA, though I did wish we had a stronger sense of them.

It's a tough plot to discuss without giving major spoilers. So suffice to say that while MacHale keeps things moving with several chase scenes and tense moments, and has a nice sense of building to bigger and more horrific things, there were a few aspects that didn't quite seem to hold fully together if one thought about them too much, mostly toward the latter third of the book. And the ending seemed both a bit over the top and a bit anti-climactic, paradoxical as that sounds. Unfortunately, as I said, trying to explain why would spoil too much.
While much of the book's lower-level mysteries are resolved by the end, the big questions (along with some new ones) remain, setting us up nicely for the second book. While the horror plot is mostly just solid, the main character's winning voice mostly makes up for the weaknesses of plotting. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting for Morpheus road for a while now. It did not disappoint. As much as I loved the Pendragon Books, I think I like this new book even more. I thought it got down right scary/creepy in places. Marshall Seaver is another of D.J. MacHale's great young characters. I loved the book and I am far from a yougnster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Imagine if you created the nastiest, creepiest creature for a graphic novel... and then he came to life and started trying to kill you.

Having done the fantasy world-hopping thing, D.j. MacHale turns his attentions to the world of horror. The first book of the Morpheus Road trilogy, "The Light," is a subtle and eerie creepfest that hits on most of the things that ever scared you from being left home alone... and the only problem is the rather flashy grand finale.

Marshall Seaver is spending the summer alone, since his dad is away and his bad-boy buddy Cooper has been exiled to a lake house. Unfortunately, Marsh isn't really alone -- strange symbols are appearing, noises are haunting him, and one night he finds himself lost in a labyrinth with the hat-wearing, skull-faced Gravedigger. Said supernatural ghoul is warping the reality around Marsh, and clearly wants him very, very dead.

Here's the pinch: Marsh CREATED the character of Gravedigger. As in, he shouldn't be real.

With the reluctant help of Cooper's older sister Sydney, Marsh ends up fleeing to the lake house, hoping that his buddy can help him. But Cooper has gone mysteriously missing, and Cooper begins to suspect that Cooper's disappearance ties in to Gravedigger's plot. No one around him is safe, and Gravedigger is always waiting...

"The Light" is not gory splattery horror -- it's suspenseful horror, full of eerie everyday things (dripping sounds, silence, a lake party, a dark deserted school) that are infused with a sense of creeping dread. And MacHale also spatters the plot with all sorts of eerie visions and creepy moments (such as a bloodsoaked Christmas tree, or the first appearances of Gravedigger).

MacHale's style is rambling but very detailed, and he does an excellent job sprinkling the story with vital clues that come into play later in the story. And he's unafraid to take the story into darker, bloodier territory as well -- such as Marsh wondering if he's going insane, and the all-too-human mystery of what happened to Cooper and why.

The only problem is the ending -- after a whole book of subtle, harrowing fear and warped hallucinations, the grand finale is a splashy over-the-top mess. And one big twist is clever... but never really foreshadowed.

Fortunately, the characters are written in intelligent shades of grey. Marsh is a likably geeky loner who's still struggling with his mother's death, and his childhood friend's increasingly wild behavior; and he generates some romantic tension with Sydney, an older girl who has become bitter and rebellious over her parents' strict behavior. And Cooper (though rarely in the plot) is shown to be a good friend who's going through a bad phase.

The ending is too flashy'n'splashy, but otherwise "The Light" is a thorough creepfest, with enough stuff wrapped up to be satisfying, and enough left hanging to make you check out the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Quick & Dirty: A highly entertaining read that is sure to give you nightmares.

Opening Sentence: I believe in ghosts.

The Review:

The story is narrated by Marshall Seaver, an average teenage boy and amateur comic book artist. He's a bit immature and clings to all of the things that define him. He loves comics, video games, building model rockets, and spending time with his one and only friend - his best friend, Cooper. Where Marshall is a total geek and lacks skills with the ladies, Cooper is a ladies man and is always looking for trouble. Marshall is really looking forward to spending the summer with his best friend, but Cooper's parents decides that he needs to get away from his troubles so Cooper goes to his family's cottage.

Marshall creates his own comic book character, the Gravedigger. He begins to have hallucinations and starts to question what's real. He starts to see the character that he created - Gravedigger and believes that Gravedigger is stalking him. To make matters worse, Marshall discovers that Cooper has gone missing, so he teams up with Cooper's sister, Sydney, to help get to the bottom of the mystery.

Morpheus Road: The Light is an interesting story that deals with many themes, such as identity and growing up. This engaging tale certainly has its share of creepy and scary moments. Mr. MacHale is an excellent writer. He does an amazing job building tension. The secondary characters and villains are well crafted, interesting, and unique. The plot is surprisingly complex, with numerous subplots, but this in no way detracts from my enjoyment of the novel. Mr. MacHale disdains cliches and creates multidimensional characters in both Marshall and Sydney, who grow over the course of his book.

Overall, Morpheus Road: The Light is a good read. Mr. MacHale delivers some great twists and lots of suspense. Readers will be chomping at the bit to see what happens in the next installment.

Notable Scene:

I heard more than saw what happened behind me. The heavy stack of glass hit the floor and exploded. Bits of glass flew everywhere, filling the air with a storm of sharp, shiny fragments. I glanced back in time to see a wave of broken glass headed my way. I ducked quickly and covered my face before I got sliced. I felt the sting through my clothes as I was pelted by the glass, but I didn't dare budge. After a couple of seconds I cautiously peeked over my arm to see the carnage. The four climbing ropes were hanging straight down, swinging gently, no longer animated.

FTC Advisory: Big Honcho Media provided me with a copy of Morpheus Road: The Light. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don't receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The editorial reviews above and comments here do a very good job of summarizing the plot of this book and explaining its appeal. Allow me to add a few additional positive thoughts.
The lead character has a more authentic feeling than is the case in most other supernatural/fantasy novels. He doesn't start out too lame and he doesn't end up ridiculously heroic. He develops as a regular person coping with bizarre developments. This makes this a more interesting and satisfying read.
MacHale has built his chills from scratch. That is, while the characters, (good and bad alike), follow fairly familiar arcs, they feel like they were created for this book to serve the needs of this story. They are not just based on labels borrowed from other, better books. (I know what an orc is, or a boggle, or an elf, or a vampire, and a lazy author doesn't even have to try to create anything new when he uses these models. MacHale doesn't use any of these "short-cut" characters.)
The book is not over written. I don't know if the author showed restraint, or he had a good editor, but either way we are saved the extra two hundred pages of repetition and fill that seems to fill up a lot of current five hundred page tomes. This book moves along without being skimpy.
So, if you are window shopping, this is an interesting book to consider.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Light by DJ McHale Is The First Book In The Morpheus Road Trilogy. This Book Is An Awesome Read! I Was Hooked By Chapter 2. The Main Charater Is Marsh. The Book Begins With Marsh Speaking About The Prior Week And What's Happening Now. His Father Goes On A Business Trip And His Best Friend Goes Missing. The Story Begins Rather Slow But Picks Up Really Quickly In a Mind-Boggling Race. I'm Still Trying To Find Out What Morpheus Road Is, Although That Information Will Probably Be Revealed When The Other Two Books Are Released. Spooky things Begin Happening in His Home That He Can't Seem To Understand Or Explain. Marshall Invents An Imaginary Character, Gravedigger, Who Comes To Life Before His Eyes. Thrilling Horror Hides In Every Page As Marsh Trys To Find Out Where His Best Friend Coop Has Gone And Why Gravedigger Seems To Be After Him. This Book Is Like Encyclopedia Brown Meets The TV Show Supernatural. The Ending Took Quite A Turn And Was Told From Another Character's Narration, Which Is Awesome! This Book Locked Me In And Kept Me On Edge! I Believe It Will Keep You On Edge Too!
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