The Light Dweller
Miguel Lopez de Leon
Galadria Worldwide (2017)
Reviewed by Faryal Jabbar (Age 16) for Reader Views (2/18)
Imagine an underground world so unique from our current perceptions of science fiction rules, where a dragon ruler uses her wings to swim rather than fly and a whole species of mind reading mushroom-like species exists. In “The Light Dweller,” by Miguel Lopez de Leon, a young boy named Ben witnesses these amazing sights after opening a storage room door.
Like all protagonists Ben has his own set of problems before beginning his epic adventure. For many years he has been bullied and hurt, without the comfort from his closed-off parents. His father quickly uproots the family to live in his deceased grandmother's house, where Ben takes refuge in the darkness of the storage room. One day, armed with many ham and cheese sandwiches, a lighter, and a candle, Ben discovers tunnels that lead him into the plunging darkness. He awakens to no one, until coming across the city of Gren, a beautiful city whose light source is fading fast and needs three special objects from three different cities to regain the light. Since Ben is referred to as a surface-dweller he is unbound by the diplomatic law that prevents others from crossing borders and is offered citizenship if he helps save Gren. Without much of a choice Lina, the head guard of Gren, and Ben set off on their adventure, facing powerful rulers in hopes of saving Gren before it is consumed by darkness.
Throughout the book the plot and language was straightforward and clear. The dialogue helped me better understand Ben and move the story along, but it could get boring at certain points. On the other hand my favorite part about the author’s writing was the sheer imagination and creativity that was used to create both terrifying and enchanting characters, as well as his ability to create a whole world unique to other popular science fiction settings. Also Ben is a well developed character that people can relate to, but Lina, a less prominent main character, lacks depth and personality. Overall Leon effectively creates a very intriguing backdrop as well as thought-provoking obstacles for his unique character’s risky mission.
“The Light Dweller,” by Miguel Lopez de Leon is a fantastic book for people ages 9 through their teen years, though some descriptions may be a little scary to some younger children. It would also appeal to older science fiction readers who don’t mind less relationships and teenage problems in novels. I’ve already passed this book along to my 9 year old brother, who is loving it so far. As a whole, important themes like: acceptance, loneliness, curiosity, and home really make this novel worth reading.