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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A darkly funny thriller about one boy’s attempt to unravel the mysterious phenomenon affecting students in his new town, as he finds a way to resist sinister forces and pursue hope for them all. Wallace Cole is perpetually moving against his will. His father has some deeply important job with an energy company that he refuses to explain to Wallace who is, shall we say, suspicious. Not that his father ever listens to him. Just as Wallace is getting settled into a comfortable life in Kentucky, his father lets him know they need to immediately depart for a new job in a small town in Upstate New York which has recently been struck by an outbreak of inexplicable hysterics—an outbreak which is centered at the high school Wallace will attend. In the new town, go from disturbing to worse: trees appear to be talking to people; a school bully, the principal, and the town police force take an instant dislike to Wallace; and the student body president is either falling for him or slipping in…

Bright Shining World

by Josh Swiller

Overall Book Review:

Bright Shining World is a darkly witty book that delves into one teen boy’s search for truth, the meaning of life and a place to call home.

Wallace isn’t your average teen.  He has been moved from place to place around the US following his father’s job.  And not just every few years, every few months.  He has attended over 14 different high schools.  So, it’s no wonder that his character was written with an acerbic, witty inner monologue.  He has no issues talking back to his father, doesn’t show a great amount of respect for authority figures, and is a little self-deprecating at times.  However, within the mix of the cast of this novel–which contains your textbook overachiever, your stereotypical football playing bully, and a couple of average nerds–Wallace provides both a source of mystery as well as some darkly placed humor.

This short novel tackles some hard hitting, modern subjects.  With scenes of police brutality, trysts on the sources of energy and how Americans use energy, screen time, family dynamics, and the pressures placed on high achievers, it does not shy away from topics warranting discussion.  While the author doesn’t advocate clearly for one argument or another, he does set the storyline up as one of good versus evil.  The novel comes to a rather abrupt ending, so it will be interesting to see if another book is forthcoming.

Overall, this is an interesting read with some darkly comical moments.  It’s a quick read with easy language, straight-forward storyline, and a couple of memorable characters.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  10 religious exclamations; 47 mild obscenities; 8 religious profanities; 1 derogatory name; 47 scatological words; 36 anatomical gestures; 4 offensive hand gestures;29 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Four verbal threats; multiple instances of punching or fist fighting with injuries; multi-page riot at PTA meeting with police involved; police officer hits teen in head with butt of gun; policy officer lifts teen boy from ground by hair and places in chokehold; 

Sex/Nudity:  Two references to sex or having sex; 3 references to a penis; 2 references to masturbation; teen boy recalls having sex with no detail; 1 instance of hand holding; girl takes off shirt at a party; teen boy runs naked thru streets twice; boy and girl take off all clothes to wring out water (no detail); boy on boy kiss; kiss between opposite sex; four instances of hand on shoulder.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, considered suicide, mental disorders, abandonment, and ethics.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adult smokes, teen uses chewing tobacco, adults and teens drink various forms of alcohol.  

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.