In Darkness – Nick Lake.

Synopsis from Goodreads.
“Shorty” is a Haitian boy trapped in the ruins of a hospital when the earth explodes around him. Surrounded by lifeless bodies and growing desperately weak from lack of food and water, death seems imminent. Yet as Shorty waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, he becomes aware of another presence, one reaching out to him across two hundred years of history. It is the presence of slave and revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, whose life was marred by violence, and whose own end came in darkness. What unites a child of the slums with the man who would shake a troubled country out of slavery? Is it the darkness they share . . . or is it hope?

Raw, harrowing, and peopled with vibrant characters, In Darkness is an extraordinary book about the cruelties of man and nature, and the valiant, ongoing struggle for a country’s very survival.

“Death will continue… There will be a steady and endless stream of the dead, filling the land under the sea that can never be filled.
But this is not sad
This is beautiful.

 

The beauty of this is that when you die there will always be someone waiting, there will always be those you have lost, standing there, the curve of their back and the stance of their feet so familiar. There will always be someone there, saying:
-We have waited so long. It is so good to see you. Come here.
Come here.

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Woah… I can safely say I’ve never read a book like that before both in subject matter and emotions.

High Points.
Shorty. Marguerite. Toussaint L’Ouverture. Site Sole. One of the most original settings in any YA book I’ve read. Stories. Dirt. Vodou. Zombis. Notorious B.I.G. Voices in the darkness. Death. Hope. Friendship. Unflinching. Curses. Impeccably researched. Prophecies. Boys of cartilage and muscle and veins. History. The future. Then. Now. Always.

Low Points.
Even though I enjoyed (“enjoyed” isn’t really the word I’m looking for) the ‘Then’ parts and they were impeccably researched by Mr Lake, I couldn’t help my mind wandering a little. I found them interesting and beautifully written (One of my favourite quotes of the whole book was taken from one of these chapters [See top quote]) but I just wanted to get back to Shorty and his story.
So really… it’s Mr Lake’s fault for creating such a brilliant character in Shorty.
That’s right… his fault.
*cough*

Hero.
Oh Shorty.
I don’t want to really go into this too much because I think Shorty is the kind of character you really need to meet and get to know on your own.
But my heart bled for this kid, it really did.

His story isn’t an easy one to read but beneath the darkness (*groan*…I’m sorry!) there is humour, faith and hope.

Supporting Cast.
Again, I’m not going to say much about this because of spoilers but one of the things I loved most about this book was the way that Mr Lake never asks us to forgive his characters. It may just be me, but I never got the feeling that this was a tale of redemption for any of the characters, even Shorty. It is how it is with this book; it’s real and it’s uncomfortable and problems aren’t solved.
The villains have moments of greatness and the heroes have moments of darkness (*groan*… I’m sorry, it’s too easy!)
Nothing is black and white with these characters and that’s why I love them.

Theme Tune.
Ready to Die- Notorious B.I.G.
(I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this song features about a million swear words… so, y’know. Those with sensitive ears…)
I know this is probably a bit of a copout because this song features quite prominently in this book, but I don’t care, because the scenes where it features are extremely harrowing and unforgettable.

Sadness Scale.
10/10.
This book gutted me and there were a few points where it was difficult to actually get through it because of the situations portrayed.
But like I always say in my reviews, I’m not a sensitive reader and I don’t mind when things get a bit dark, as long as they aren’t gratuitous or sensationalised for shock value.
I’m so happy to say that Mr Lake’s portrayals were never like this.
Taken from Mr Lake’s Author’s Note:
“This is a work of fiction. That said, much in it is true. If you were hoping that some of the more unpleasant things you have just read were made up, then I apologise.”

Apology accepted.
:(

Recommended For.
People who are looking for a brilliantly research historical YA novel…..and people who aren’t claustrophobic.

I received this book as a part of a tour set up by the wonderful wonderful UK Book Tours.

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