Blog Tour (Review): Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

Series: The Bright Sessions (Book 2)
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (September 29, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250297540
ISBN-13: 978-1250297549



Praise for A NEON DARKNESS

“X-Men by way of Salinger.” ―Mackenzi Lee, New York Timesbestselling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue



Praise for THE INFINITE NOISE



“Emotional and inventive, Lauren Shippen has written a queer love story for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. The Infinite Noise managed to make me swoon even as it broke my heart. A thoughtful and tender exploration of mental health, it will make you want to go to therapy, whether you have superpowers or not.” ―Britta Lundin, Riverdale screenwriter and author of Ship It



“The Infinite Noise is a marvelous book about love, mental health, and connection. Lauren Shippen writes with a clean and honest warmth that is deeply refreshing, and her sharp representation of depression and anxiety rings true. Once I started reading The Infinite Noise, I couldn’t stop; now that I’ve read it, my life has become a matter of waiting to get my hands on whatever Shippen creates next.” ―Sarah Gailey, Hugo Award winning author of Magic for Liars



“Fans of the podcast will revel in this closer look at the lives of the characters, and readers new to the franchise will drop into this world without missing a beat. Give this to fans of the podcast, as well as readers who enjoy Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Rainbow Rowell’s work, and Welcome to Night Vale.” ―School Library Journal



“The author gives emotions form, texture, and color, taking readers along on Adam’s and Caleb’s journeys while remembering that a boyfriend is not an antidote to life’s supernatural―or mundane―problems…. A warm, satisfying love story with depth.” ―Kirkus Reviews



“Shippen does a superb job of handling a swirl of complex emotions, ranging from subtle to fiery as the boys struggle to complete each other and share their differences.” ―Booklist




The second Bright Sessions novel from creator Lauren Shippen that asks: “What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?”

Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels.

You can purchase A Neon Darkness at the following Retailers:

MY REVIEW

I received this book for an honest review for the blog tour via Jean Book Nerd. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

This is my first Shippen book. I usually don’t read a “sequel” before reading the first book, but it being a standalone, an origin story, and not necessarily a sequel, I figured there was no harm in reading a little out of order. In a way, I kind of regret that.

I don’t regret it because it was hard to get into or to understand the characters. I feel it was more that I might have been missing something about the world that was established in Infinite Noise, the first book. That said, I wasn’t lost or confused. I just feel there might be something missing and perhaps that missing nugget of greatness is in the first book.

This isn’t to say that Neon Darkness is a bad book. The plot is a little slow moving, it isn’t until about 30% in that a plot starts to develop. However, the characters and their interaction makes up for that. Because, it didn’t take long to get to that 30%. This book is actually quite easily a single or maybe two sitting read.

Shippen’s writing style is fairly simple in that it is easy to read. The flow is very much like a conversation with other people. There is a division in narratives where we see the world through first person in our main character, but we also see the world in third person through the other characters. Sometimes, we are also given Robert’s past through flashbacks. Whereas in other books I might say this made the book cloudy and difficult to fully comprehend, I actually didn’t have a hard time following. I attribute this to the flowing ease of Shippen’s style that reminds me of both a fun television show and engaging time.

Robert as a character is multi-faceted. There are times I was wary about him and times I truly felt bad for him. He wasn’t my favorite, that honor was given to Indah and Neon, but there is a power about him that draws you in whether you like him or not. It excites me to see what he is like as Damien in Infinite Noise.

As for the other characters, I did mention earlier that Neon and Indah were my favorites. It’s true. Their dynamic and chemistry is well written and I loved their relationship, as complicated as it is. Their cautious acceptance of Robert is well done and kept me flipping pages to see what was going to happen next.

Stories about superhumans are few and far between. So to find one as engaging as Neon Darkness was a treat. I will definitely be getting Infinite Noise just to see Damien as other readers knew him before this book as well as just to see what golden nuggets I may have missed by reading the books “out of order”. This is a book I recommend for fans of grey characters, character studies, super powers, and LGBTQ+ positive representation. In such, Shippen is a reader to look into more for me.

Photo Content from Lauren Shippen
Lauren Shippen is a writer best known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce the #1 podcast Passenger List, for which she received a BBC Audio Drama Award. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic. Her first novel, The Infinite Noise, was released through Tor Teen in September 2019.

Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. In 2019, she founded Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.

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