Release Date: March 8, 2016
Zylynn has lived in The Light her whole life. Behind the white-washed walls of the compound, life is simple and everything makes sense. Follow the rules, live in the light. Which is why she is so confused when she is roughly shoved outside the walls, ten days before her thirteenth birthday, ten days before she will become a woman of the Light, and driven into Darkness. She knows the truth about the outside though. Outside is The Darkness. The people who live in The Darkness are liars. If she doesn't return to the Light by the time she turns thirteen, she will be cast into eternal pain and torture in The Darkness. Yet, the longer she is in the darkness, the more confused she becomes. There is a man who claims to be her father. He seems to genuinely care about her too. And there are wonderful things like shampoo, colors, and strawberries.
This was one of the best books I have read in a very long time. The first-person perspective is on-point as this is a character has a lot of internal struggles and very little actual dialogue. After all, to speak aloud is to put words out into The Darkness and that is something Zylynn has no intention of doing. It is almost imperative to the story that we, the reader, travel with her as the veil of mystery is lifted on this life she has been taught so little about and the world she lived before. And what a dark world it is. Malnourishment, starvation, drugs, families separated, physical abuse, and some implied sexual abuses too.
Dramatic irony is used to the empth degree as we the reader know so much more than Zylynn. Of course, we know that food is readily available, but Zylynn does not and so she hordes food in her bedroom, fearing it may disappear. Fearing that there may be hungry days soon. Her new family, a word she doesn't know or understand, is trying desperately to help her, but they know so little about what she is thinking. Zylynn doesn't make it easy. There were some amazingly powerful moments throughout the book where readers are given a glimpse into the heads of the adults, not in a narrative shift, but by employing strong emotional moments to something that Zylynn doesn't understand. There is a scene when Zylynn is taken to the doctor's office, malnourished and small, and her Uncle, (a word she doesn't even understand) begins to cry. It is this truly heartbreaking moment as you the reader understand the heaviness of the situation. This man never thought he would even see his niece again and he is appalled at how small she is for her age, how obviously maltreated she is. There are so many of those moments throughout the book. As a fuller picture is revealed about Zylynn's treatment inside the compound, you find yourself rooting for everyone to escape and knowing, even before you reach the end, that they won't.
Although the end is predictable, it doesn't lessen the emotional journey that readers are taken on as Zylynn must learn the truth about the light and the dark. I know it may be early and it hasn't even been released yet, but I hope this book gets a lot of attention and maybe an award or two, because it deserves it.