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Thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: September 13th, 2016

320 Pages


Seven tightly woven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.

Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations?

While The Light Fantastic tackles the subject of school shootings, There’s no bloodshed and very little violence depicted. Instead, it looks at the lives of these teens in a mostly 2 1/2 hour period and what leads up to individual moments of decision, or “light fantastic”. Two of the characters have nothing to do with Mastermind’s deadly plot, yet they cross the paths of two of the Assassins, and because of this, changes their course. Also included is the perspective of a teacher which winds up having a profound effect. Because there are so many different perspectives, it was difficult at times to keep track of everyone at times. But I have to say that Sarah Combs is positively brilliant at creating her characters personalities. Each has their own distinct voice, and I found myself caring about all of them, even the Assassins. Reading this reminded me of some of my own unpleasant experiences in high school and I understood how certain events could lead these teens to even contemplate something so horrible. Of course today’s world is even more dangerous then when I was in high school (1979-1983). Now there’s the Internet where teens can join online communities with complete anonymity which in turn gives them a sense of power over their situations. All of this and more is thoughtfully explored in a manner of writing that is almost a stream of consciousness from each character. The story isn’t action packed but that doesn’t make it any less compelling. The Light Fantastic lets its readers peek into the minds of teens that are teetering on the edge of a precipice.The kids in this book aren’t evil. They’re not sociopaths, or psychopaths. Each has undergone something that has made them hate themselves and are unable to see a way to change their desperately unhappy lives. It also looks at how love and compassion can truly make a difference. This is a great book for teen book discussion groups, as well as anyone who works with this age group.