ARC Review: Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen!


Title: Lovely, Dark, and Deep
Author: Justina Chen
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Summary: 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.

I received an ARC of Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen in exchange for an honest review, and the story of how I did is actually pretty awesome! Every day on our Twitter, we Tweet a question of the day under the hashtag #BookBratzQOTD. So one day, we asked a question about the kinds of awesome things you've learned from books you've read. Our answer was that we learned about Geocaching from another one of Justina's books, North of Beautiful, and then she loved the Tweet and DMed us asking us if we wanted a copy of her newest book, and we couldn't resist! So that's how we got a copy of this ARC, and we even got to give another one away, so it was just a nice little story that we wanted to share. :-)

As the summary explains, Viola is a hardworking girl that seems to have a pretty normal life. She's involved in a lot of things at school, super dedicated, and she knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. But then, through a freak accident, she finds out that she's allergic to the sun. Like, completely. Cannot be near anything that emits UV rays -- the sun, lights, and even her computer and phone screens. Even being outside in the shade during the daytime can seriously harm (and potentially even kill) her. So her life is turned completely upside down -- especially since she wants to be a photojournalist in the desert, something she absolutely cannot do with her condition. So, yeah...it's pretty messy.

Reading this book was really intriguing because it covered such an interesting concept that I hadn't thought about much before. Being allergic to the sun -- to the point where I can't even go outside or sit by a nightlight without getting severe, super-painful blisters -- completely baffles me and sounds like such a difficult time. So seeing how Viola handled this condition was intriguing to me because I had never known that this was something anyone could experience before, so it gave me a peek into a life I hadn't ever really known much about before.

My favorite characters in this book were definitely Viola's parents, even if it sometimes felt like they were being a little bit too much for her. They were super loyal and super thorough when it came to wanting to keep her safe, so as annoying as it could be, you knew that their hearts were in the right place and that they adored their daughter very much. Plus, their love for each other was super cute, and seeing their marriage and work partnership work out so well gave me some hope for love in the world, which made my heart feel warm and fuzzy!

As for characters I didn't enjoy very much, I wasn't a huge fan of Roz. She seemed really bratty and spoiled and entitled, even up until the very end, and the fact that their parents let things fly like that for so long (even in front of their faces) without saying anything about it was kind of frustrating to see. But when Viola actually pushed back a bit, I was cheering her on immensely, because Roz definitely needed to hear it!

My favorite parts of this book were all of the comic book collaborating sessions between Viola and Josh. Not only were they super interesting, but it also served as inspiration for me to sit down and brainstorm some ideas for the current story that I'm working on, so that helped keep me motivated whenever I wasn't reading!

Something that I enjoyed most about this book was the way that Viola's life turned around in a direction that she wasn't expecting, but she still found a bunch of ways to reroute her life and make it something she could enjoy. While all of her troubles didn't dissipate and some of her dreams would have to be left unachieved, in the end, she didn't give up, and that's a kick of motivation that I hadn't even realized that I needed.

The only thing I wanted to know a bit more about is Viola's condition. There really isn't a cure for what's going on with her, but maybe knowing a little bit more about it or what makes it happen (or the routes of treatment that she and her parents decided to take) would've been beneficial. While the loose threads are tied up by the end of the book in terms of friendships and relationships and having a different-yet-satisfying life, we don't get much more on the progression of her condition, which was something I would've been interested in seeing.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Justina Chen is a super sweet and amazing person, so I'm so grateful that she decided to reach out and offer me a copy of this book. This story showed me a situation that I didn't even know existed and in addition to learning a lot about it, I also loved the themes of motivation and overcoming difficult obstacles that may uproot your life plans. So this book covers a lot of ground for sure!

Hats off to Justina Chen -- she's impressed me with her writing yet again!




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