My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This Young Adult fantasy is a sequel to Goto’s Half World, which was nominated for numerous awards in young adult fantasy. Half World is a kind of purgatory where people go who haven’t resolved events in their lives. The first book introduced one such character, Mr. Glueskin, who is able to leave Half World for ours as a baby.
The story continues from Goto’s Half World following the life of Gee, now a teenager, who relies on his adopted grandmother, Popo, for guidance. Gee’s mysterious background and his penetrating black eyes make alienate him from his peers. He makes his first friend, Cracker, another alienated youth, have to defend their awkward lives from street predators. Gee and Cracker discover that they each have connections to Half World and together must travel there in order to answer questions about their pasts. Half World is filled with challenging and dangerous obstacles as Gee and Cracker are compelled to search for meaning. Together they must face their darkest fears to have any hope of finding peace.
The novel is filled with more questions than answers about what exists beyond death. Using realistic characters from our world to introduce the reader to the fantastical plane of Half World somehow makes the idea plausible. Goto’s descriptions of the various tragic events trapping characters in Half World are at times horrific but captivating. Although the character Gee is featured in Darkest Light, the character of Cracker is well-developed and leaves room for a next book.
Goto’s style is deliciously dark and detailed which will appeal especially to young adults who dabble in Asian literature. The spiritual questions involved in the subject matter may not appeal to some readers but would appeal to any curious young adult in search of answers about life beyond death. The story is quite violent in certain scenes but not in a gratuitous way.