Book Review

Lovely, Dark, and Deep Review


Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen

What would you do if the sun became your enemy?

That’s exactly what happens to Viola Li after she returns from a trip abroad and develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and a hat the size of a spaceship. She has to stay away from all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat when its screen burns her.

Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike who carries his own mysterious grief. But the intensity of their romance makes her take more and more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.

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You know how they tell you to write the book you’d like to read and haven’t found? For me this is the book I wanted to read but hadn’t found. However, I did not write, instead Justina did.

We follow Viola’s story through this book, she is a browncoat, which in geekspeak means a fan of Firefly, and is also crazy about doing bake sales for charity (that is something I am not that familiar with except as a concept but all the food she cooks throughout the book made me hungry and I wish we had some recipes to go with it). Then as she is having a normal day, she collapses and voila, turns out she is allergic to the sun (and light).

Now, in case you didn’t know, I am photosensitive myself (I was born like this) and I have written a little about it on a reality check post. And I really want to highlight that this book does a wonderful job at representation of photosensitivity. It is well researched, it is good at explaining how it affects and changes your life (it was very intersting for me, since I have adapted to it as I grow, rather than having to do so in one go, and I kept nodding at the things they would try and going “yeah, done that”) and it is also a good story. It follows her journey to coping with her new life, and how her family relationships change, but it also has a romance subplot which I enjoyed (even if at times it was quite sweet) that in itself deals with loss and grief.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep is a very uplifting book, it keeps reassuring you that you’ve got this regardless of how many lemons (or killer sunrays) life throws at you.

Moon recommends

That if you know me, or are curious about photosensitivity, you go and buy this book and read it. It genuinely is the book I didn’t know I needed. And if you’d like a younger and more sweet book, try The Ice Garden.

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