Refraction by Naomi Hughes – A Review

Hi! I’m here today to talk about a book that came out yesterday! It’s a YA sci-fi called Refraction, by Naomi Hughes. I received an eARC from Net Galley and read it a while ago.

Let’s get into it.

Refraction by Naomi Hughes
  • Publication date: November 5th 2019
  • Publisher: Page Street Publishing
  • Genre: YA Sci-fi

After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade―until he’s caught by the mayor’s son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many abandoned cities overrun by fog. But they soon realize their thoughts influence their surroundings and their deepest fears begin to manifest.

With fast pacing and riveting characters, this is a book that you’ll finish in one sitting.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing and eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Refraction is a book I wanted to love, after all it’s sci-fi, and lately that is enough of a reason for me to pick up a book. The synopsis tells you very little. In a world where deadly monsters are created in reflections, a teen with OCD becomes a black market mirror dealer and risks his and others’ lives to be able to find his brother. It sounds interesting and unique. It sounds like a recipe for a success… but I found it clunky.

Marty is an interesting protagonist. I’ve never read about anyone with OCD and I appreciate books with underrepresented topics and characters. There was nothing about Marty, or the OCD itself, I didn’t like. He’s a morally grey character, who often sees himself as the bad guy, and it definitely adds to his depth.
The second main character, Elliot, is also well developed and multidimensional. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his mother. I believe characters are the main strength of this book. I loved the dynamic between the two boys and I would like to see it develop a bit more, as I thought there was a lot of chemistry between the two.

The monsters spawning from mirror reflections sounded like the coolest idea ever. Just the right amount of spooky. Unfortunately, somewhere between the writing and pacing of the plot, the spookiness disappeared, and I was left with… chaos. I expected my heart to race every time there was even a possibility of one of those Beings popping up, but it just didn’t. Something about the writing made it not scary. The Beings kept appearing every few chapters and not once did I fear for the main characters, not once did I think that maybe this time something will happen to them. And when it finally did – I didn’t much care.

In many parts the book lacked atmosphere. I wanted to feel spooked. I wanted to be able to imagine the world. I wanted to find out about everything gradually. Unfortunately, the main mystery of the book and the plot was all handed to me on a silver platter in a form of a long info dumpy monologue. I feel like all the good ideas were there – the execution just lacked… It left me feeling meh. I speed read the last 3 chapters because I knew exactly where the story was going and how it was going to end.

The whole alien part didn’t suit the story. I stand by it being an amazing idea – it really was, alien part included – but with the way it was executed, it felt nearly like a different story. I wish it was all connected better, described better and… just executed better.

In the end, I think Refraction had heaps of potential which wasn’t reached, hence my 3 star rating. I think many people will still enjoy this book, I did, too, just not nearly as much as I wanted to.

You can get the book here.

Thanks for reading!

Until the next time.

2 thoughts on “Refraction by Naomi Hughes – A Review

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