I was asked by the author to read and review The Lightbearers for this blog. It was my second time reading a self-published work – and, I truly wish to support every author who decides to self-publish because the traditional route is wrought with difficulty and let’s face it…it is so difficult to break in.
Nonetheless, I think any author who is going to publish a work must do so without hurry; they should fine tune their craft and find a great editor who will help them to seamlessly bring together a believable story.
Now, onto my thoughts on the novel in question.
At its core, The Lightbearers has a great concept. It is highly creative and weaves interesting aspects of ancient Egypt and its people into the modern era. Garcia creates distinct characters who clearly want different things.
I really wanted to like this book. But, I had so much trouble with it. The exposition felt confusing and disorganized – I feel that Garcia was going for intrigue and perhaps trying to hook her readers – but I felt annoyed that the motivation of the characters presented was not made clear. The character descriptions felt more like character sketches – seems that Garcia fell into the trap of telling her readers about her characters instead of showing her characters. There were too many interruptions in the plot to describe a character or to provide back story to the present events. It almost seemed as if the novel should have started at a different point in time.
The mission of the lightbearers, their purpose and goals wasn’t made clear early enough in the novel – and even when made clear, I found the description of humanity pretty condescending. What is it that the lightbearers are saving humanity from? Government? Capitalism? Materialism? Religion? Their own selfishness and greed? We never truly know! Nor are we convinced that humanity needs saving. There’s just one really despicable man who conveniently gets away with everything because he’s wealthy enough to pretty much buy everyone…because every police officer, educational leader, social/cultural leader and politician is for sale.
I liked the isolated stories of how the lightbearers started (ancient Egypt), of when they reincarnated in France and even Jerusalem (Jesus’ story)…but these stories were superfluous – the plot was not affected in any way whatsoever by these stories. There was no thematic link to the main plot either except to show that the lightbearers have done this before. They decide when/where to incarnate, live out their life, try to change (bring light to) humanity and die trying without changing all that much.
I really disliked the sharp turns the book takes. They are unnecessary…the protagonists die, then the characters that become protagonists die, then the antagonist becomes the protagonist and ruins people’s lives, then the lightbearers return as different people (more character descriptions!) and then they die…the plot twists didn’t feel fluid or logical.
I read every page waiting for the wow moment. Waiting for the moment that it would all just work and I wouldn’t feel so guilty about my opinion of it. It never happened.
The plot is poorly developed, it makes jumps that are unrealistic and messy situations are too neatly/easily wrapped up. The entire things reads like a draft – not a final, polished, finely edited and written version.
I feel I need to remind my readers that I am a fan of fantasy and historical fiction. I read YA dystopian novels and some pretty far-reaching romance novels. I am very good at suspending reality and buying into the world an author creates for me – but in The Lightbearers there are too many holes in that world where I fell through and couldn’t climb back in.
My issues with the novel remained the same – beginning to end. Unfortunately, due to my opinion of the book, Garcia chose not to conduct the author interview on Book Marks – which I understand. I gave her the option and told her my opinion beforehand.
The Lightbearers is a good attempt, but it didn’t quite do it for me. I can’t say I would recommend this book to anyone. Bummer start to my Bookish Thursdays, but there it is.
Have you read any books that tried really hard to like and just couldn’t?