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Review of In Darkness by

In Darkness

by Nick Lake

I did not finish this.

It’s a nominee for the Carnegie Medal, which is why I started reading it. Unfortunately, it didn’t engage me enough to make me want to keep reading.

Nick Lake does a good job creating character and setting, and he makes a fair stab at plot. In Darkness is split in two time periods: one follows the Haitian Revolution; the other is set during the most recent Haiti earthquake. Through a good use of parallelism, Lake traces the use and abuse of power in oppressors and the oppressed.

See, In Darkness is far from bad. If it were bad, I could probably have finished it and given it a nice, critical review. As it is, I just couldn’t bring myself to care much about Shorty. He’s a sympathetic character, yet I found Lake’s style too dry. The narrative is mostly stream-of-consciousness, in Shorty’s case, but voice doesn’t come alive for me. It doesn’t help that Lake also uses the convention of beginning dialogue with an em-dash instead of wrapping it in quotation marks.

I always struggle with the decision to give up on a book. Would I return to In Darkness sometime? Perhaps. Perhaps this just wasn’t the right time, given how busy I was. Perhaps another time would have me more interested and more willing to work at the book.


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