Review: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow

Book Title: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise
Author: Matthew Crow
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads
A poignant and unexpectedly funny novel about Francis – one of the best and bravest teenage boy narrators since Adrian Mole. This is an emotionally honest story about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad things can be.

Francis Wootton’s first memory is of Kurt Cobain’s death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection – and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who’s at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, 

Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.There’s the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn’t reckoned on meeting Amber – fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber – and finding a reason to tackle it all – the good, the bad and everything in between – head on.In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Sometimes gorgeous covers are a hint that something even better is in those pages, and sometimes the cover is doing it’s best to hide a book that is lacking certain things. With this book and it’s gorgeous cover, it was definitely the latter. This book looked like something I’d love. It’s no secret that I love the “tough subjects” contemporary books. Unfortunately this one was a big disappointment.

I was expecting to love Francis and Amber, I was expecting to root for them as a couple as they battled their illnesses. I was expecting to laugh and cry right along with them. However, all of my expectations were unmet. I found Francis and his family all very tedious and one dimensional, which is not a good thing. Amber was okay, but she was also really underdeveloped. She was supposed to be this funny, sarcastic girl, but I didn’t get any of that from her.

The book itself was very slow, and in fact we didn’t even meet Amber until the book was a quarter of the way over. I was very close to DNFing the book then as well because Francis was so boring, but when Amber showed up, I decided to keep reading it and hope that this book would improve.

The character development was severely lacking in this book, and I think it would have been so much better if Crow had fleshed out the characters more. I wanted them fleshed out because it seemed like they were very flat, and to me, flat = uninteresting. The pacing was even, but it was also incredibly slow. It felt like I could skip a chunk of this book, and I wouldn’t miss anything. 

I wasn’t excited to pick it up whenever I could, and in fact, I dreaded picking it back up. No one wants to have that feeling when they are reading. Because of the slow pacing and the underdeveloped characters, I’ll be giving this book 2 stars. It could have been so much better than it was. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

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