ARC Review: A Scatter of Light By Malinda Lo

“I felt the weight of that moment all the way through my body, every nerve alive. I think she felt it, too. We could have made a lot of other choices that night, but we made the only one we wanted to make.”

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Publisher: Dutton Books

Release date: 6th October 2022

Pages: 336

Representation: Bi-racial Chinese/Caucasian, Chinese, LGBTQIA+ (Queer, lesbian, bisexual, genderqueer, questioning), polyamorous side character.  

Trigger warnings: Stroke, death, homophobia, grief, infidelity, cancer mention, sexual harassment (unconsenual publishing of lude photos)

Summary:  Aria wasn’t planning on spending the summer at her Grandmother’s house in California, but it’s where she is. She definitely wasn’t planning on falling for her grandmother’s gardener, Steph. First of all, Aria is straight, and second, Steph has a girlfriend. Nothing seems to be going as she planned, and the summer before she goes to MIT is going to change everything she knows about herself, with no going back.

Pre-order the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A scatter of light shows us that even in the darkest of nights there is a scattering of stars; each one of them unique and beautiful in their own way. 

Aria was a realistically written character: freshly 18, I saw glimpses of my teenage self in how she felt at times. I can’t say I liked her, because she made decisions that I actively condemn. I knew everything she was doing was wrong, but there was a part of me that couldn’t help but root for her anyway. This is a testament to Lo’s writing. The prose is almost poetic, it lifts the story from the pages and prints the words right on the reader’s heart.

The book was definitely character driven, and follows Aria’s emotions and coming to terms with some truths about herself more than the choices she makes. It follows her relationship with different family members, with friends, and with herself and her sexuality. I never wanted anything more than the book offered, and I gulped down everything it gave me with a thirst I haven’t known for a while.

My emotions are still a blur as I write this review; I’m stuck in an emotional Limbo after spending half a day being driven into the unknown by a teenage girl figuring out her life. I wouldn’t be able to turn back if I tried, and I wouldn’t want to. Full of character mistakes, queer love, heartbreak and the reality of being queer in the modern day. Steph, the love interest, wasn’t a nice character-she wasn’t someone I liked, but it was easy to understand Aria’s love for her. It was easy to understand her lust, and I loved watching the relationship evolve, as much as I hoped it wouldn’t-as much as I wanted them to remain friends and to not do anything they might regret.

The stark reality of being queer now versus being queer in the 60’s hits you like a punch in the good when reading it from the same author; the same style, the same words, but na million miles and worlds apart. I won’t give spoilers, but it gave a conclusion to Last Night at the Telegraph Club that made me tear up. It felt a fitting end to that story, that slotted perfectly into Arias. I would definitely recommend reading Last Night at the Telegraph Club before you read this; though it definitely can be read as a stand-alone it truly shines as a follow up to its predecessor. 

Its shining glory: Beautifully written, with a story bound to resonate with so many queer youth, its ture glory comes from the emotional toll it takes and the mirror it holds up to so many aspects of queer experience. 

Its fatal flaw: Although allowing the reader to feel a realistic process of emotions and flow of events, the plot occasionally seems disjointed at points as it jumps from one point to the next. 

Read this if: You want an emotional read with imperfect characters. You want a true coming of age novel that shows just how messy and complicated life can be-one that doesn’t draw a line between who’s the hero and who’s the villain.

Skip this if: You don’t like books where the flaws of the main character are a focus. You like romance books to be 100% about the relationship, with less focus on the other parts of coming of age

Pre-order the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:


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