The Taste Of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles

The Blurb On The Back:

What happened to you, Lux Langley, to make your nightmares turn red?

These are the things Lux knows:

She is an Artist.

She is lucky.

She is broken

These are the things she doesn’t know:

What happened after the party.

Why she ended up in hospital.

Why she is dreaming in red and screaming in the dark. 

Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out.  If she cannot piece together the events of that fateful night and regain control of her scorched and splintered mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

If the nightmares don’t take her first. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

17-year-old Lux Langley doesn’t remember anything between going to a party at the end of an internship she was doing at a London art gallery and then waking up in hospital.  The medical tests don’t show a physical reason for either the amnesia or the migraines that she now suffers from or for the fact that she feels disconnected from her own body.  Her parents want her to return with them to their main home in Singapore but Lux only wants to go back Richdeane (an exclusive boarding school for creative teenagers) where she can hang out with her best friends Mei and Olivia.  But even there she doesn’t feel like herself and, despite regular counselling sessions and the arrival of a new boy, Cal, who specialises in art, she knows that if she can’t get it together she’ll be out when the term ends at Christmas.  The answer lies in those missing hours but does she really want to remember what happens and – more importantly – what will happen if she does?

Lydia Ruffles’s debut YA literary thriller is a Marmite book because while Ruffles has a gift for description and can turn a beautiful sentence, this story of, essentially, a poor little rich girl whose journey to self-absorbed artistic pretension is interrupted by an event that (once revealed) had no emotional impact on me given that she’s so revolting to her friends and family and because the central conceit doesn’t ring true.

It’s really difficult to review this book without giving away a massive spoiler (i.e. what happened to Lux).  What I will say is that I found the twist to be unconvincing and the book is very lopsided – essentially split into 2 parts, the first (and biggest) dealing with the immediate aftermath of the incident and Lux’s attempts to handle it and then a much smaller (and unsatisfying) second part dealing with Lux’s life 2 years and 4 months after she discovers what happens.  What disturbed me about the second part is that Ruffles seems more interested in the celebrity aspect of what happened than the emotional ramifications and I wasn’t convinced that Lux had really grown from her experience.

As for Lux herself, whether you like this book will turn on whether you care about her and I just didn’t.  Although clearly intelligent and with a sharp eye for detail, I found her to be so selfish, uncaring for those who care about her and self-involved that I really didn’t care about what had happened to her.  Her constant talking about Art and Artists struck me as pretentious, her stalking of a famous ex-Richdeane pupil showed a stunning lack of self-awareness (that she never really addresses) and given the life of money and privilege that she enjoys, her attitude towards others (and particularly a scene where she goes on an outreach to a residence for mentally challenged people) is just horrendous and because I didn’t like her, I couldn’t empathise with her.

I can see how other readers would feel differently though – especially Lux’s confusion and emotional disassociation – and Ruffles does know how to create beautiful imagery.  Ultimately this book left me completely cold but I would check out what Ruffles writes next.

THE TASTE OF BLUE LIGHT will be released in the United Kingdom on 7th September 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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