The Breaking Light by Heather Hansen, Skyscape (April 1, 2017). ISBN: 9781503942684. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
Imagine another world, one where sunlight is a commodity and society is rigidly stratified not only in terms of wealth, but by access to light. Those less fortunate either die a slow, painful death, or survive by paying almost everything they have for the light substitute VitD injections. The other alternative, or the palliative for those who have gone too long without, is shine, an inhalable drug made from the same components.
When Arden, a streetwise resident of the undercity, finds a wealthy mark from above on a street one day, she ‘allows’ him to capture her, partly because she’s curious, partly because she feels he needs to know how risky poking about in her realm can be. When she turns the tables and takes away the knife at her throat, they start a conversation that is the beginning of an incredibly difficult romance.
They’re opposites not only in socio-economic status, but in outlook, or so it seems at first. However, Dade, the boy she confronted, can’t get her out of his head and has his own secrets relating to the inequality rampant in their city
Arden is part of a gang that steals from the wealthy families who run the entire city and sell the goods, primarily shine, to finance weapons and intelligence to use in a rebellion. Arden’s brother is leader of the gang and she sees him growing more and more unstable every day thanks to his use of shine. On one hand, she’s terrified that he’ll act recklessly, but on the other, she can’t shrug off her loyalty to him and her best friend who is also a gang member.
Meanwhile, she and Dade can’t keep away from each other and as they spiral toward each other amid growing security and violence, their safety becomes threatened by both factions. How this plays out becomes a violent, action-filled experience that will leave readers gripping the book tightly as they follow along. The ending screams for a sequel which I hope comes soon.
Despite the violence, this is a dandy dystopian entry for school and public libraries to consider.