MM romance · sci-fi / fantasy

REVIEW: Bright Decay by Aurelia Wong

The Official Description: It’s a dangerous world, whether you have power or not.

Everyone knows there’s something off about Skylar, including herself. She wades through high school being normal, but ever since the disappearance of her only friend, her life spirals out of control. Humans with uncommon abilities live closer than she thinks.

Skylar wants nothing to do with the government-sponsored superheroes that inhabit her world, yet a near-death experience makes her one of them: she can stop time with a thought. The entire world, frozen in stasis, can become her playground.

In the city of Duskim, she has to adjust to her new reality. Her powerful ability can’t save her from past regrets, though it attracts the attention of all kinds. If she wants a rank among the heroes, she must stop the resurfaced terrorists threatening to burn down everything she knew.

She may be powerful. She may be powerless. Who is she when it matters the most?

Just the facts: YA/ New adult, science fiction, asexual main character, characters with superpowers, book 1 of series

My thoughts bit: This was a difficult one for me. I always say that I believe there is an audience for every book. This book has an interesting concept but is flawed in ways that made it unenjoyable for me to read.

There were some things that were good about this book and some things that made reading it more challenging. The young people in this book are referred to as “uncommon”. They have near-death experiences that give birth to a “superpower”, an idea that was initially written skillfully by V.E. Schwab in Vicious (Villains 1).

Some of the powers in this book are really imaginative: the ability to turn everything into gold and control it, tattoos that can be pulled off the skin and become real objects, blood that causes the time to speed up dramatically. The author did a good job of exploring the nature of a world in which superpowers exist. There is a complex structure set in place to attempt to wrangle the uncommons and within that, there is a social pecking order.

Skylar’s power is complex and I assume it will be further explained in future parts of this series. She is able to manipulate time. At first, all she is able to do is stop time around her. As she learns more about her abilities, she finds that she is able to control time in smaller pockets. She is able to freeze all but certain individuals in a crowd, she is able to age herself to heal herself, and her blood has some very interesting qualities.

The main character, Skylar, was difficult to connect to. I felt that she was very one-dimensional on the page. At times when I was expecting some kind of reaction from her…there was nothing. It’s generous to say that there is an asexual character in this book. The only time it is mentioned is when she is asked directly during an intake interview. Her sexual orientation is completely irrelevant to the plot (which is fine!) so I wouldn’t go into it looking for an asexual character you may identify with.

The author writes on Goodreads that the book has been recently edited. I read some other reviews and it sounds as though it has improved dramatically from its original release, however, there are still some cumbersome areas. There are still quite a few grammatical challenges that pulled me out of the story. There were a few points at which I had to back up and re-read and was still left confused by what was supposed to be happening. The last 50 or so pages of the book was a real challenge to read. It was choppy and disconnected and I felt as though there were some paragraphs missing altogether.

The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: train wreck, evacuation due to fire, attempted murder, Gun violence, multiple physical altercations, multiple injuries during assault, suicide, parent death.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar that I would recommend

I received an ARC of Bright Decay by Aurelia Wong from Portalsmith Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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