A Neon Darkness Book Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Teen for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Author Information

Lauren Shippen is a writer most known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce Passenger List before founding Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic, set for release later this year by Marvel and Stitcher.

Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Her first novel, The Infinite Noise, will be released through Tor Teen in September 2019. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.

Book Description

The second Bright Sessions novel from creator Lauren Shippen that asks: “What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?”

Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels.


Thoughts and Themes: There are so many things that I love about this book and the main thing is the narrator of the story. The narrator makes the story really easy to follow and makes it so easy to get caught into the story. I listened to this one while following along with the e-book because I find that this way of listening to audiobooks worst best for me.

I have so much notes on this book that I ran out of space for notes in the page that I was using. Most of these notes are focused on the characters so that I could tell them apart but there is also a lot of notes about the world building. I really enjoyed the back story that you get for each of the characters and how things are slowly elaborated on.

I really like how often they point out to Robert that he is an adult and responsible for his actions. I love how they point out that Robert is a White guy who has power of persuasion and what that means for his friends and everyone else. I really like how Robert just doesn’t get what his powers mean for others and only focuses on how his powers affect him. This is such a frustrating thing but such an important part to this story.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to throughout this book and I actually liked each one of them. I even managed to like Marley who seems to be the character not everyone would like. I was confused about their ages and wondered if they were all within the same age range or not.

I liked the mystery of the bad guy and how we don’t know much about him. I also like how the mystery of each character is kept until the ending chapters. We get a little bit of each person revealed to us through their conversations with each other and as they learn more about themselves and each other.

I was so glad that we got several queer characters in this story and that their queerness is spoken about. I also like the relationships that we are shown throughout this book and the ones that are developed or restored. I liked that we get to see Indah and Neon struggle through establishing their relationship and what they mean to each other. I also like how different each of the characters are from each other and then also seeing their similarities.

“Understanding is like love, you can’t tell someone how to do it” There are so many things in the last few chapters of this book that I really enjoy. I love watching Robert develop and go back and forth with who he is. He makes me so angry because he doesn’t understand how his influence is affecting anyone because he hasn’t used it for bad. He doesn’t understand the problem with using his influence on anyone and it’s so frustrating but I love when his friends speak out against what he’s done to them.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and told through Robert’s perspective, though there are times when it switches to third person with Indah’s view point or Blaze’s view point. I also listened to this story as an audio book so I’ll also be commenting on the narrator in this section. I thought the narrator was great and easy to listen to. This is one that the voice could’ve changed with each character that was speaking but I was glad that the voices were all similar. It made it so the story flowed better and there were no breaks between characters changing.

1 thought on “A Neon Darkness Book Review

  1. Pingback: January 2021 Wrap Up | Unconventional_Quirky_Bibliophile

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