Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: A Gleam of Light by T.J. & M.L. Wolf

Goodreads Summary: In 1995, at the age of eight, Una Waters survived a terrifying encounter at 30,000 feet aboard Flight 564 from Dallas to Las Vegas. It changed her forever. After 21 years, and a decade away from the Hopi Reservation where she grew up as a child, a surprise plea for help brings Una back, to solve a mystery that threatens their traditional way of life. The U.S. Army's sudden interest regarding a cave discovery in the Sacred Peaks has triggered alarm, leading to violence. With the help of friends, new and old, Una must confront her painful past, seek proof to qualify the ancient site for protection under law, and stand up to a stiff-necked general, whose agenda is more concerned with retrieving a mysterious power source.
Goodreads Rating: 3.11 stars with 9 ratings
Genre Listing: Speculative Fiction, Aliens, Native American Culture


First of all, I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to T.J. & M.L. Wolf for sending me a copy of your book.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I like the concept of the speculative history surrounding a plane flight and an alien encounter. I feel like A Gleam of Light put way too many ideas in one book. There was just so many themes in this book ranging from aliens, Native American Culture, Military, and archeology. It just didn't feel cohesive story to me. I liked some of the aspects separately but being all mixed together made it difficult to stay interested in.
I didn't really feel any connection to any of the characters. They all felt fairly flat and one-dimensional to me. I didn't really feel like any of them had any personality, and from one character's point of view to the next, it was hard to decipher whose train of thought I was following.  There were a lot of parts in the book, especially in the beginning of the story, where it felt like the scene just stopped abruptly to add this sense of suspense. It really didn't make it any more suspenseful in my mind.

The military aspect of this story just seemed incredibly off to me. I've been around a lot of military people (tends to happen when your husband is a marine) in my life, and it just didn't feel believable to me. Especially where it talks about information being classified but then offering Una a tour and telling her information. She may have been able to get in with her government job, but it seems unlikely that her friends would have been able to be allowed in, and that's only if she had a security clearance. I don't know if the authors have previously had military experience, but based on how the scenes were written, I'm going to assume they did not. 

That being said, the aspects of the Hopi culture did feel a bit more believable to me, and I got the impression that there was a lot of research or first-hand knowledge that went into the writing of the Hopi's Culture in this story. I also liked the archaeology portion of the story. That felt realistic enough to me as well. And I enjoyed reading about their adventures in the cave.

Some of the wording in this book really irked me. I physically cringed when I read that the authors put in the quote "They laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at them because they are all the same." I've seen this statement on many things, and I can't help but including it might be grounds for plagiarism if someone really wanted to push it. Even if it's not, it's a very cliche line that has been completely overdone for years. Towards the end of the story, Una meets up with her friends, and they hug. Una starts crying because her friend starts crying and refers to it as being "A woman thing." This was another thing that made me cringe because it's a generalization that really doesn't apply to most or even all women.

Additionally, Una and Ashcroft having feelings for one another is just odd to me. It feels like it came out of nowhere and had no build up to it. There was one scene where they got close, and apparently, it was enough to make Una trust him implicitly and have feelings for it. Again, this doesn't feel realistic to me.

Personally, I did not enjoy the book. I can see how some would enjoy it, but for me, it would need a serious rewrite. I didn't feel like the weird plane flight experience correlated with the things that were going on around the reservation. I didn't really feel like there was a meaning behind bringing the characters from flight to the cave. I didn't get a sense of personality from any of the characters, and the majority of the themes just didn't come across as realistic. Even in speculation, there are ways to make it seem believable. I honestly haven't read any other books this month because I knew I needed to finish this one but just couldn't bring myself to want to pick it up beyond a sense of obligation.

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