Review: We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

We Light Up the Sky by Lilliam Rivera

We Light Up the Sky
Lilliam Rivera
Bloomsbury YA
Published October 26, 2021

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About We Light Up the Sky

Pedro, Luna, and Rafa may attend Fairfax High School together in Los Angeles, but they run in separate spheres. Pedro is often told that he’s “too much” and seeks refuge from his home life in a local drag bar. Luna is pretending to go along with the popular crowd but is still grieving the unexpected passing of her beloved cousin Tasha. Then there’s Rafa, the quiet new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is homeless.

But Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find themselves thrown together when an extraterrestrial visitor lands in their city and takes the form of Luna’s cousin Tasha. As the Visitor causes destruction wherever it goes, the three teens struggle to survive and warn others of what’s coming–because this Visitor is only the first of many. But who is their true enemy–this alien, or their fellow humans? Can Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find a way to save a world that has repeatedly proven it doesn’t want to save them?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Lilliam Rivera examines the days before a War of the Worlds-inspired alien invasion in this captivating and chilling new novel.

In a haunting, genre-bending YA, award-winning author Lilliam Rivera explores the social and racial ramifications of an alien invasion from the perspective of three Latinx teens.

We Light Up the Sky on Goodreads

My Review

I read and loved NEVER LOOK BACK, a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice by Lilliam Rivera, so when I saw this new book, I pretty much knew I was going to have to read it.

Sci-fi isn’t my top preferred genre, but I have found that I love a solid contemporary story that incorporates science fiction into the story. I don’t know if that makes a whole lot of sense. I think it’s the difference between reading a romance novel, where the romance IS the story, versus reading a story where the romance is a subplot. The alien encounter is pretty much the focus of this particular story, but it’s also firmly centered around Luna, Rafa, and Pedro’s connections to each other and their individual grief. That part of the story– grief and connections– is what really hooked me.

I loved that the relationships they build with each other aren’t just part of a character arc, but they also play into the final battle of the story. I felt like that elevated the whole story from interesting to compelling.

On the whole, I really liked this book. I haven’t had a lot of reading time lately, so if I didn’t like it, probably it would have sat on my night stand waiting for me. Instead, I found myself grabbing it to read a chapter while I waited in a parking lot or in the few minutes I had before starting dinner. The short chapters and sharply focused narrative made it easy to pick up and put down, and the realistic characters kept me eager to come back for the next chapter.

I think readers who enjoyed WHEN LIGHT LEFT US by Leah Thomas or who like character-driven sci-fi will love this book.

We Light Up the Sky on Bookshop

Content Notes for We Light Up the Sky

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Pedro, Luna and Rafa are Latinx. Pedro has dated boys and girls. Rafa develops feelings for a boy.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to sex. Kiss between boy and girl. One boy kisses another on the cheek.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Several scenes show descriptions of violent attacks on people. Some references to police brutality.

Drug Content
References to smoking pot.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of WE LIGHT UP THE SKY in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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