The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs

the light fantasticI’m always intrigued by stories that cover topics that are acutely relevant to the times we live in. Books that aren’t afraid to tackle hard topics – to talk about things no one else wants to talk/think about.

The Light Fantastic tackles what is, in my opinion, one of the most terrifying threats our society currently faces – school shootings. I’ve tried to read a few books on this subject, but I’ve never found one that has completely blown me away (last year’s This is Where It Ends looked promising, but just didn’t hit home for me). I was hoping that this book would be the one that really stuck.

In many ways, The Light Fantastic is an interesting and engrossing book. I found the group of students who were part of the “assassins” (an online group plotting to go on a shooting rampage at their various schools across the United States all at the same time/date) to be particularly intriguing. These are people who seem “perfectly ordinary” but feel so isolated and alone that they want to lash out against society in a very big way. The psychology there is fascinating.

I really wish there had been more on each of these characters, to explain why they chose to either “stay” or “leave” the assassin group before the appointed “day of reckoning.” I was so interested in their reasoning, motivation, etc. and I felt like for some of them things were very fleshed out while for others I just didn’t get WHY they were doing what they were doing.

If you’re worried about violence in a book about school shootings, don’t. This book has way more to do with what makes a person snap/want to lash out than it does about the actual shootings themselves. While there are violent acts referenced, there aren’t graphic descriptions to worry about.

With a more satisfying ending, I think this could have easily been a four or five star read for me, but I felt like there were too many unexplored/unexplained things left when it came to a close. I would have also liked more tension surrounding the day of the shootings, because I felt it lacked an urgency I was expecting given the subject matter.

Still, a good choice for those looking to explore the minds of people who commit atrocious acts out of nowhere.

Rating: 3.7/5 stars


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