The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles – Book Review

Title: The Taste of Blue Light

Author: Lydia Ruffles

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Mental Health, Panic Attacks, Anxiety, Paranoia, PTSD, Trauma, Synesthesia

Blurb from Goodreads

‘Since I blacked out, the slightest thing seems to aggravate my brain and fill it with fire’

These are the things Lux knows:

  • She is an Artist.
  • She is lucky.
  • She is broken.

These are the things she doesn’t know:

  • What happened over the summer.
  • Why she ended up in hospital.
  • Why her memories are etched in red.

‘The nightmares tend to linger long after your screams have woken you up …’

Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

If her dreams don’t swallow her first.

An incandescent, soul-searching story about a broken young woman’s search for a truth buried so deep it threatens to consume her, body and mind.

My Review

I am blown away by this read.

It’s rare that a contemporary YA book leaves me feeling so breathless. I absolutely did not see any of that coming.

The Taste of Blue Light follows the story of young art student Lux and her attempt to discover what happened to her one fateful summer night.

She can’t remember. She has nightmares, she has physical manifestations of pain but according to all her doctors she is physically fine.

But emotionally she is bereft. She is struggling.

As the reader you are in the dark as much as Lux is about the event that changed her whole sense of being as much as she is and you live each of her struggles with her. You see her fight her parents, act out with friends, get panic attacks, suffer from anxiety, paranoia, see her fixate on unexplained things… Her senses are all acutely heightened but to an almost manic degree. It’s clear that she must be suffering from some sort of PTSD but neither the reader nor Lux knows until eventually things begin to fit into place.

But trust me. When you find out it won’t be what you expected. At least I was completely floored by it. And what’s brilliant about this book is that it feels honest. It doesn’t feel like a cheap or tacky attempt to be relevant. Because The Taste of Blue Light is incredibly relevant.

Lux is such a brilliantly written character. She is both likeable and unlikeable at different times. I found myself caring deeply about her even though I feel I have very little in common with her. THAT to me is a sign of great writing. To write beautifully flawed human characters.

The supporting characters were all veiled in this wonderful air of mystery and confusion as Lux was attempting to figure out the mystery behind that night and even though this probably meant that I didn’t connect with these characters as much, it actually somehow added to the tension in the book. All my senses were as heightened as Lux’s were.

If I were to find any flaws with The Taste of Blue Light (and these are purely quibbles) it’s that the pacing was not entirely perfect. The book dragged a little between the 30% and 50% mark and I would actually have liked the last 15% to have been a little more detailed. But these are minor issues. The ending was actually very beautiful and I did finish The Taste of Blue Light with my eyes glistening with tears.

A thoroughly original and incredibly emotional YA read that feels truly authentic.

Highly recommended

“I will find the old Lux and when I do I will climb back inside her and sew myself into her skin so I never get lost again. The last time I saw her, me, properly was at the Leavers’ Ball. I was wearing the shortest, reddest dress I could find. This was before colours meant what they do now. And before I got lost.”

“‘I know this is difficult, Lux. Perhaps you could just tell me the main things that are bothering you, just so I can make sure I have it all noted down correctly,’ the doctor said. So I told her what I’d eventually told my mother after weeks of saying it was just the headaches while thinking I was losing my mind. That since I blacked out I feel like my head is not connected to my body, that I panic about weird things and that my senses get confused sometimes. And, if I get really strung out, colours get brighter and more intense, and it’s almost as if words and sound have colour. I didn’t tell her that I sometimes see words in the air, sometimes even punctuation, which makes it hard to follow what people are saying. ‘I feel like I’m in a video game or a play,’ I said.”

“My thoughts are starting to get mean; I remind myself that villains are just victims whose stories haven’t yet been told. A professional told me that, like he was conveying something super meaningful and all I could think was how much Lux sounded like a villain’s name.”

“Vanilla is an insult to some people, but some days I would give up every flavour in my body to be just vanilla.”

“These tropes of troubled and rescued teens should embarrass me. I should cringe at the clichés. But words are the most powerful drug, someone famous said that once, I think, and I find myself buzzing.”

“A constellation of bright young things, we delight in pre-show banter and buy moonshine from an illicit vendor. But, ten minutes into the actual performance, the nostalgia party ends. Without the narration of the book, all that remains is beautiful, two-dimensional people doing vile things.”

Other Works by Lydia Ruffles I’ve Reviewed

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