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This Little Light: A Novel Hardcover – August 11, 2020
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“Lori Lansens imagines a near-future that is stark, visceral, and terrifyingly real. Hallelujah for the audacious self-professed heathen, Rory Ann Miller, who holds the adults in her world accountable while reminding us to never stop fighting for freedom. This book is a one hell of a wake-up call. I was rooting for Rory from page one.” -- Ami McKay ― author of The Birth House and The Witches of New York
"A twenty-first-century The Handmaid’s Tale." ― Booklist
About the Author
- Publisher : Harry N. Abrams (August 11, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1419747215
- ISBN-13 : 978-1419747212
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.85 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Thank you NetGalley and Abrams / The Overlook Press for providing this ARC.
I was torn on a five star scale between a four and a five. The illustration of the current craziness taken to its logical end is important to understand. The inherent contradictions between what is said (and demanded of OTHERS) and what the hypocrites do are made crystal clear here. Even a high school student can see and understand the tremendous immorality and unethical "beliefs" of these people. And that is in addition to the dangers of both misusing and mismanaging social media. And, as is usually the case in the US, which is where this is set, those who pay the highest price are women and people of color.
The main thing that made me consider a four star rating was really more about my slowness in getting used to Rory's voice, that of a teenager. Namely a teenager in a privileged community and the types of speech they might use. But, in fact, I did become accustomed to the phrasing and the slang and, at least where I am, there are young people who speak like that and especially who post comments like that. So while it doesn't represent every young person, it does represent a fair number of those like Rory.
While the action of the immediate story takes place over just a couple days, we get background in flashback form. If you dislike flashbacks as a way to fill in the past without turning the book into a slower paced story taking place over a longer time frame, then you may get frustrated here. I found the flashbacks to be effective in slowly filling me in while the action spirals out of control.
I think there are probably many ways to understand this story. One is simply as a dystopian novel using current events taken to an extreme as the foundation. If, like me, you think we have already gone beyond extreme in our having a pathological liar as POTUS, faux Christians wanting to tell everyone what they can do, and a complete disregard for those different from us, then this is not just a novel but a warning that we need to stop this nonsense. By whatever means necessary! For me, this is a call to arms.
I recommend this to fans of dystopian literature as well as those who ask themselves every day 'what new hell are these faux Christians and their Trumpenfuehrer leader going to try to unleash on us today?' If you happen to be one of those intellectually challenged people, well, you'll probably side with the wackos in this book.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
I would love the genre to make a comeback, however, so I’m always on the lookout for something new. This Little Light is a very light dystopia, where Christian fundamentalists have gained power and abortion has become illegal.
Two teenage girls, Rory and Fee, are forced to flee after an explosion at the American Virtue Ball they’re attending. The novel is told from Rory’s perspective, as she live-blogs the entire situation.
The first thing I want to mention is that events like the American Virtue Ball actually happen. The point of these “Purity balls” is to promote abstinence and to promise your fathers and god that you’ll abstain from sex until marriage. Just like in This Little Light, fathers present their daughters with some kind of gift (ring, necklace, etc.) in exchange for their daughters promising a vow of chastity to their fathers. I’m not going to get really deep into this, except to say that it creeps me out, women are not possessions of men, and that abstinence doesn’t work.
The blog format was interesting. On the one hand, it propels the narrative forward and portrays a sense of panic to the reader. At the same time, however, I found it irritating. Rory would write things like:
“Holy shit. Just heard something, and it wasn’t the wind. There’s a truck on the road, and it’s coming this way.”
I find it to be unrealistic that someone would type that instead of just jumping up to investigate, especially when they’re literally being hunted by bounty hunters. I understand why Lori Lansens went with this format because, again, it does add a sense of urgency to the story, but it would have worked just as well as a more typical first-person narrative.
The biggest issue I had with this novel is that the reaction to the book’s inciting event is excessive and it requires a suspension of disbelief. There’s a small explosion at the American Virtue Ball (where no one is killed) and the person running the show (whose name is Jagger Jonze, by the way) puts up a million-dollar bounty to track Rory and Fee down. There’s no real evidence that they’re responsible for the explosion, and I found it hard to believe that the entire nation would rally behind this and start tracking down two teenage girls. For this level of reaction, something much bigger and more important should have occurred.
I don’t know if this is because I’m getting old, but I struggled with Rory’s vernacular. The author is 58 years old but is writing from the perspective of a 16-year-old. Lansens uses a particular sentence structure over and over again that really annoyed me:
“We live in Calabass, California, which is famous because Kardashians.”
Maybe young people today do talk like that, but it bothers the crap out of me. Obviously, this is a personal preference, so it might not bother you at all, but “a because b” is not proper English.
All of the characters in This Little Light are incredibly rich and privileged, which usually turns me off of a book. So I really appreciated that Lori Lansens wrote Rory to be hyper-aware of her privilege and how lucky she is compared to the majority of the world. It made her character a little easier to stomach.
This isn’t a book that I can recommend. Much better options would be Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, both novels that are highly deserving of your attention. I appreciate what Lori Lansens was attempting to with This Little Light, but it ultimately fell flat.