YA ARC Review: WHEN THE LIGHT WENT OUT by Bridget Morrissey

Title: WHEN THE LIGHT WENT OUT

Author: Bridget Morrissey

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

TW: suicide

Five years after the accidental shooting of Marley Bricket, her friends, who were there the day she died, reunite when a box of letters from Marley is found in her former home. The discovery leads them on a scavenger hunt that reopens old memories, wounds, and betrayals, and leads them to question what they thought they knew about Marley’s death.

My Review:

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange of an honest review.

A story about grief, losing and rebuilding friendship and coming to terms with their past and the secrets between them.

The book follows 16-year-old Olivia as she lies to bring her childhood friends back together five years after their friend, Marley died. But when the lies start to unravel, it threatens to break all the trust they had in one another.

The book was slow, but the suspense made it a page turner. The writing was descriptive providing a clear imagery of the settings but not so much about the characters. From page one, there’s Marley’s ghost everywhere in the story. The presence is so consistent that at a point I had to look back at the summary to see if this was a horror suspense, but it wasn’t. With the story progressing, Marley’s ghost faded leaving me wondering if there was ever even a need for her to exist at all throughout the story. The book doesn’t even tie it up in the end.

Since the story follows eight characters in two timelines, it’s longer but Morrissey does an incredible job at keeping their character arcs separate and giving them all character development to go through. Still, in the end, it all seemed to be a part of MC Olivia’s character development instead of the story. Olivia was a little narcissistic from the beginning, but instead of realizing it, the story made her narcissism stronger. The story wasn’t about Marley or friendship or secrets, rather about everyone liking Olivia in the end.

Morrissey also forgets to change voices when Olivia’s PoV switches between timelines. It was hard to tell apart eleven-year-old Olivia and sixteen-year-old Olivia, even though the story arc should have forced her to mature over the five years.

The ending fell flat. The story was unable to tie up all the loose ends. It suddenly took an unexpected turn close to the end, but not in an intriguing way. It was as if the ending were forced. And the book ends at 85% and the rest is just dragging on for nothing.

Overall, I think it is brilliantly crafted with vivid imagery, but it doesn’t have suspense elements.

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