Bre is a fashion and lifestyle blogger at The Queen Bre. She is a girl from the North with a heart for Lilly Pulitzer, shopping and anything pink. She is also my twin sister.
Santa made a list, checked it twice, and put What Light by Jay Asher on the naughty list for its cliché plot and one-dimensional characters.
What Light follows Sierra, who feels like she leads two lives. For the majority of the year, Sierra lives in Oregon on her family’s tree farm. However, from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, her family runs a Christmas tree lot in California. While Sierra usually tries to avoid any romance while in California due to the time restrictions and her dad’s warnings, all caution goes out the window when she meets Caleb, a boy with a troubled past and bad reputation. Yet, Sierra struggles what to make of their relationship with the threat of the Christmas tree lot closing for good.
Although the book’s inside cover suggests that the plot focuses on Sierra and her problems, the book actually focuses on Caleb all. of. the. time., which ultimately makes the book feel unbalanced. By focusing only on Caleb and their relationship, the novel fails to develop several other important plot points, most importantly, the fate of the Christmas tree lot. Second, as a result, the novel glosses over any conflict, which makes any conflict resolution feel unrealistic and rushed.
Additionally, the characters feel one-dimensional and underdeveloped, especially the secondary characters. Sierra’s best friends and family fit into a simple stereotypical mold, and serve no real purpose in the novel. Unfortunately, the main characters do not fare much better.
Sierra’s personality does not really develop any further after she meets Caleb. Her only purpose in novel comes from fighting all of Caleb’s battles for him, defending his character to her parents, and abandoning her friends to spend more time with him. She acts like she understands Caleb best of all, when in actuality, she’s only known him for a few weeks.
As for Caleb, I could not get into his character.He falls into the stereotypical ‘reformed bad boy’ trap that most YA male protagonists do. Additionally, we got it after the hundredth (okay, exaggeration) reference – the boy’s got dimples and likes peppermint hot chocolate.
Last, but not least, the writing felt forced and awkward. While Asher’s writing in Thirteen Reasons Why really drew me in and kept me interested until the very end, I cannot say that I had the same experience What Light. I actually cringed at some of the awkward dialogue between characters.
Although I got really excited when I heard Jay Asher wrote a new novel, and a Christmas novel at that, I felt so disappointed when I read What Light. I actually had to force myself to finish it. For that reason, I give the novel only 2 out of 5 stars.
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