This Raging Light by Estelle Laure Review: This Raging Jenna

January 6, 2016 by Jenna | 1 star, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure Review: This Raging JennaThis Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Published by Orchard Books on January 12th 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend's unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together - just.

A stunning debut to devour in one sitting, Laure captures completely the agony and ecstasy of first love.

This Raging Light had the potential to be a great book. It had a very interesting premise that would have allowed for a wonderful coming-of-age story. Instead, what I read was very lacklustre and underwhelming, and I had some very big problems with some aspects of the book. I don’t really have many positive things to say about this book, so I’m just going to insert some positive quotes throughout my review.

She knows life is a pillow that’s all on my face, almost almost suffocating me. But whoever is holding the pillow lets me breathe just enough so I don’t die. I almost forget that when I’m with Eden, she slaps away at the pillow, and I can see something else.

I hated (yes, strong word) the writing from the very first page. The author uses very short and very long sentences that made the book very hard to read. There were times when I wondered if I had received an uncorrected proof, but sadly (and horrifyingly) it was a finished copy. The writing had almost no flow and read very choppily. There was an abundance of one or two word sentences, and often they were unnecessarily tagged on to the end of a paragraph. Rage. The anger. I can’t. Please stop. There were also very long sentences that were actually just six shorter sentences combined into one, separated by commas. So even though they were long, in my head, they read just like the short ones and the whole book just felt like it was starting and stopping all the time. The thing that bothered me the most about these super long sentences was that a lot of them were ungrammatical. There would be an “and” that came before more commas, and it just felt like the author had finished the sentence but decided to add an afterthought to it. Here’s a simple example I made up to explain what I mean: “The sky was shimmering with colours: blues, greens, yellows and purples, pinks and reds, oranges.”

The language used was also a bit flowery and pretentious. The author tries to be quirky with non-grammatical sentences (“Normal got gone with Dad”) that honestly don’t make a lot of sense and need to be reread a few times in order to understand what the author is saying. There were also scenes that were unnecessarily descriptive and the book could have been half as long if it wasn’t so unnecessarily wordy. There’s really not much that happens in the book; it’s only stretched out by the descriptions. For example, there’s a scene in the book where our main character and her love interest walk into each other and he reaches out a hand to steady her. There is a whole half page of text describing that moment and then another full page of her overly dramatic reactions. I was honestly a bit sick and tired of it after the first 50 pages. There were also a lot of unnecessary metaphors used to make everything seem deep and meaningful but, for me, it was unsuccessful. They had the opposite effect on me and detached me from any of the emotion and urgency of the story. I ended up skimming over a lot of these long metaphorical passages. I mean, when you compare yourself and your love interest to steak and mashed potatoes in the middle of a kissing scene… there’s no way I can take you seriously. And is it really necessary to go all metaphorical and talk about swords and shields while your best friend is drowning?

I’ve probably said enough about the writing now, so let’s move on to the plot. This novel was a bit all over the place and seemed a little confused. The book starts without telling us anything about the events that led to both of her parents disappearing. We eventually do find out a little bit about what happened with her parents but the story of her parents was never resolved in this book. We mainly get Lucille’s coming-of-age story, which stemmed from her parents disappearing on her, but that is never resolved. Sure, I’m happy that she learnt to survive by herself, BUT WHAT ABOUT HER PARENTS? If that part of the story isn’t going to be wrapped up, why did they have to exist in the first place? Why not just make her an orphan and write a coming-of-age story about that instead? My other problem with the plot was that the things that were actually resolved were resolved far too quickly. Once Lucille reached an ultimate low, things just started turning around for her and everything started working out in the end.

“Most people totter their whole lives. They never let themselves fall, never take the hit. They just go along, trying to do what they think they’re supposed to. They never try to find out what’s true for them, because that would mean being brave in a way people aren’t.”

There was also nothing noteworthy about our characters. Our protagonist, Lucille, was probably intended to be sassy and snarky but I just found her voice to be annoying and immature (this, in part, was due to the writing that I absolutely hated). I thought she was very dislikeable, judgmental and thought she could be a brat just because she’s in a tough situation. I felt absolutely no sympathy for her at all. Her love interest, Digby, was kind of a bland character. He was a nice person but that was about it. Lucille’s best friend, Eden, was a terrible best friend. She was absent for most of the book and unsupportive for the rest of it. My favourite character in the book was Lucille’s younger sister, Wren. She was adorable and a wonderful addition to a cast of boring or dislikeable characters. I just wish she could have gotten a bit more page time.

For those of you who are wondering about the romance between Lucille and Digby, there was absolutely no spark for me. There is also cheating in this book, which I dislike a lot in YA fiction but can forgive if the romance is a good one. However, the romance in this book was rather lukewarm. Digby is in a solid relationship with a girl who he plans to go to college with and marry afterwards. I didn’t really see any signs of Digby being interested in Lucille until after they had kissed for the first time. And then all of a sudden they were in love? I also thought the cheating was very unnecessary. Digby’s girlfriend is not in the book at all. So my question is… why did she have to exist in the first place? The book didn’t need the extra angst of a forbidden relationship, in my opinion. Another reason why I wasn’t fully on board with Lucille and Digby’s relationship was because she was quite annoying about it. She acted like she was entitled to a relationship with him even though he’s already attached to somebody else. She claimed that she’s “got nothing without him” and that is one of my biggest pet peeves. Especially in this book, which is supposed to be about Lucille taking care of her younger sister who she’s now responsible for (so obviously, you do have something without him).

Lastly, I had some major issues with some things that were mentioned in this book. There are some mental health issues that are eluded to in relation to Wren. It’s briefly mentioned in the book that she might be suffering from depression as a result of both her parents disappearing on her. However, this was never explored and I felt like it was something important that needed to be tackled in this book. Another thing that I had big problems with was the smoking in this novel. Eden is a ballet dancer who frequently smokes. She justifies it by saying that all ballet dancers smoke and it’s implied (through a one-word sentence “Weight.”) that it’s a way of losing weight. Which, coming from a health psychology perspective, is not true. I thought this was a really problematic message to be putting into a YA novel. Lucille does mention twice in the novel that she doesn’t like the smoking, but nothing is really done to dispel the myth that smoking equals weight loss. There were a ton of important issues that could have been or needed to be tackled in this book, but it was all swept to the side in favour of a romance that did nothing for me.


I don’t have very many good things to say about This Raging Light. I didn’t like the writing, characters, romance or plot of the book. It had the potential to be an emotional and important coming-of-age story but the novel was too poorly executed for it to be successful.

Rating: 1 out of 5


Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy of the book! 

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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51 responses to “This Raging Light by Estelle Laure Review: This Raging Jenna

  1. Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

    I buddy read this one with a few friends, and we all agreed that it just wasn't a very good book!

    I think that the bones for a good book were there, but there was just so much that was briefly mentioned and then never fully explored. I hated feeling like Wren really needed help and it just never happened. I hated feeling like everything was just one-sided, especially Lucille's relationships and friendships. I just felt like too many things weren't tied up.

    I heard that there's a sequel. Maybe those loose ends will be explored, and I really hope they are for the people who liked this book. I just know that I won't be reading it.
    My recent post Book Review: The Spectacular Now

    • Jenna

      Ah sorry, I missed this comment when I was on my replying spree. I didn't know there was going to be a sequel! But ugh, like you, I won't be picking that one up. I don't think I could go through all of the frustration again.There just wasn't any aspect of the book that I liked, besides Wren who got way too little page-time. *shaking my head*

  2. I had EXACTLY the same issues Jenna. I was so excited to start it and then it was all downhill from there. The cheating, the abandonment where Lucille would leave her sister in the middle of the night and the romance felt awkward, she wanted to break up a relationship so he would rescue her almost. I liked the writing in places, but again, it felt a little jarring and awkward. I think the biggest aspect for me was that I couldn't connect to any character apart from Wren. Completely agree, I thought Digby's girlfriend was imaginary at first, I mean, where on earth was she especially seeing they all went to the same school. It was just too busy to connect with and I'm yet to see one review praising this one sadly. Fabulous review Jenna, really enjoyed it <3
    My recent post Clancy of the Undertow

    • Wasn't it just the most frustrating book?! I thought it was going to go down the route of Digby's girlfriend being a total cow and he leaves her but she was perfectly nice! I mean, I think the author was trying to turn her into a little bit of a cow with the whole confrontation at the end but I thought she was well within her rights to defend her claim to her man. Also, I think her mother is imaginary because WHERE IS SHE? There are actually lots of positive reviews on GR but I kind of have a hard time seeing from other people's perspective on this book. Usually things I have problems with I can still see other people enjoying… but not this one. It was just bad.

  3. Whoa. I was a little shocked by the rating, but girl, YES. Cheating is ALWAYS a turn-off for me in any book. I hated how it was glorified. Plus, Digby's girlfriend, who appeared once around the end, I think, had been really upset about it and Lucille didn't even care. Also, Lucille is going through all these hardships with her parents and raising her little sister, and she's wanting to have this relationship? So messy, really. It makes me want to lower my rating. Lovely review, nonetheless!
    My recent post Review: Bookishly Ever After

    • My biggest problem with the romance was the fact that Lucille acted like it was the only thing that mattered. It just all really bugged me, especially because she has so many other things to worry about. And I hated that it was the only thing that was resolved (badly resolved too, since he just changed his mind randomly overnight) when the story should've focused on her mother since that was the basis of the whole book.

  4. sumlynnnguyen

    This Raging Light brought out the rage in you, Jenna. Lol. But choppy writing isn't my style either. And that pillow quote was so nonsensical. Maybe because it's out of context but still. I only left a few entires in the giveaway, but I'm kind of hoping not to win now. XD

    But speaking of rage, have you read All the Rage? I really want to read that one since it has really good reviews on GR!
    My recent post Book Haul: December 2015

    • Half of the words in this book were nonsensical to be honest. All the metaphors were so confusing…steak and mashed potatoes, swords and shields, "I'm an arm and he's a giant foot". Please stop.

      I haven't read All the Rage yet. I keep seeing it at the bookstore but it's not high enough on my list of priorities for me to buy it. But I've heard amazing things about it!

  5. Charnell

    So sorry you didn't enjoy this one. It's one I have an ARC of and will be trying. I have all my fingers and toes crossed that I enjoy this more than you. It's probably going to help that you have warned me about the writing style and other aspects, I'm going in better prepared!

    • I hope you enjoy this more than I did. But I would suggest DNFing if you don't like it after the first 50 pages or so because it doesn't get any better.

  6. Yeah, I read this one and was NOT impressed. I didn't have as much of a problem with the writing as with the plot and the characters. I think the only good thing I could say is that I liked the sister relationship between Lucille and Wren. The cheating angle with Lucille and Digby was so awful and put a bad taste in my mouth. Like you said, Lucille acted like she was entitled to him. But Digby seemed like he was just after Lucille because of the whole "damsel in distressed" thing. I think that if her parents had never left, he would never have given her a second look. And yeah, the lack of resolution with her parents KILLED ME. I mean, seriously, that was so stupid. Ugh. Basically, I can see why you had all those issues because I had a lot of the same ones.
    My recent post Bout of Books Challenge: Villain Mash Up

    • I think Wren was the only thing I liked about this book. If only the whole book was about her instead…
      I just absolutely hated the romance. They had no chemistry and the whole cheating thing was so unnecessary and I totally agree with you that he probably only liked Lucille because she was such a damsel. And I had such a big problem with how it was resolved… like he just chose her out of the blue. Oh and can we talk about what a cow Lucille was to the actual girlfriend? She didn't even care that she was hurting somebody else? Omg I need to stop raging right now.

  7. Josephine

    Wow, that's a shame that you didn't enjoy it! Personally, it's only on my TBR because of the cover (I'm so shallow). Contemporaries are difficult for me, because I tend to feel like they just don't connect with me well. After reading your review, I'm quite sure I might not pick this up. Especially after your comments on the writing. I would NOT be able to handle that for an entire novel, it would drive me insane!
    And smoking = weight loss? Not a good thing to promote in a novel without at least challenging the idea!
    My recent post Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | Book Chat

    • Yeah I would pass on this one. Definitely one of the worst contemporaries I've ever read… Also, the Australian/UK cover is kinda ugly?

    • There are quite a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads. It seems to be a polarising book. If you don't like it after the first 50 pages or so, I'd suggest DNFing because it doesn't get any better!

  8. Aww, Jenna. 🙁 I'm sorry this didn't click with you at all. It sounds like the characters, romance, writing and the story itself just weren't well executed, which makes me sad to hear. Hopefully your next read will be better! <3

  9. Braine-Talk Supe

    Again with these "parents"! Bella from Twilight really annoyed me over how she treated her dad, and Maggie S.'s Shiver series was similar in that sense too. I mean is this why the world going nuts because of these "parents"?!?!?!
    My recent post Suped Up: The Muse by Anne Calhoun

    • I know that this book is supposed to highlight that there are some irresponsible parents in the world who don't have their children's best interests at heart.. but this book was just not very good at exploring the issue. The whole problem with her mother leaving was not even resolved and it bothered me so much because that was the basis of the whole book!

  10. Lily

    Is it bad that this one wasn't even on my radar? It sucks when an author's writing style just doesn't work for you–i'm pretty impressed you persevered despite that, especially since you weren't all for the plot either. Hopefully your next read is more enjoyable Jenna!

    • It was quite a short book so I decided to see if it'd get better. But it didn't at all and I was so disappointed with the way it ended. Keep this one off your radar XD

    • I've seen quite a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads, but this one is definitely polarising. I think you'll either love it or hate it… It definitely wasn't for me.

  11. Wow, you and I had a completely different reading experience! I loved the language and writing style. To me it was reminiscent of Francesca Lia Block, Cath Crowley, Hilary T. Smith – all of whom I adore for their soulful/gritty writing. But I know that's not everyone's cup of tea!

    The whole abandoned-by-mother thing is a trope that a lot of readers won't be able to get over but it didn't bother me as much – I guess because I recognized some of that in my own friends' relationships with their parents growing up, so that's why it worked for me. But I do also wish that the author had resolved more of those open issues with Lucille & Wren's mom since that was a storyline that was threaded through the entire book.

    Lucille is definitely a prickly girl – and she definitely makes morally questionable decisions at times (the cheating, for example), which I personally liked and thought was realistic. I like that she is flawed. I don't necessarily LIKE her as a person, and I don't know if I'd be her friend, but I'm okay with that. I think what redeemed her for me & made me see her in a more complex way is how she cares for Wren and how she loves and gets swept up with this totally typical, average boy even if the timing is completely inconvenient. I could relate. 😛

    Also, you're right – smoking doesn't make you lose weight, but I thought it curbs your appetite which is why people say it makes you lose weight? If not, then yeah, not a great message to be sending out, even if it's a small detail. :/ I would've liked to see more exploration of those mental health issues, too, not just with Wren but with their mom as well, since that was one of the backbones of the book…! Anyway LONG COMMENT but sorry you didn't enjoy this as much as I did!
    My recent post A Brief Intermission: Queen of Shadows

    • Yeah, the writing style just wasn't for me and it bothered me too much for me to enjoy the book. And I was definitely a bit annoyed and disappointed that the issue with her mother wasn't resolved since that was what had started the whole story. It seemed a bit strange that that wasn't address because it was the basis of the whole book… But you're right that it was lovely how she cared for Wren and tried to have her best interests at heart.

      The smoking and weight loss thing is definitely a myth (from a psychology perspective anyway). The reason why people think it helps in weight loss is because people tend to gain weight after they quit smoking. And usually that's because they're so used to having something in their mouths, that they end up eating more just to occupy their mouths. So it's not really that smoking leads to weight loss. It's just that quitting smoking sometimes leads to weight gain.

    • Definitely give it a go if you're able to borrow it. I don't think it's a book that's worth buying… but there are people who seemed to really like it.

    • I also didn't have high hopes for this book since I'd seen lots of negative reviews prior to reading it. And like you, I was so disappointed with it. Sometimes I think "surely it can't be that bad"… but it really was!

  12. Well I'm certainly glad I DNFed this one early on, Jenna. My main issue was definitely the writing style too. Something about it came across as so off to me and now that you mentioned the choppy sentences I think you're exactly right. Same with the pretentious writing style.
    Once I found about the cheating, I was done though. I wasn't going to force myself through it. It seems so weird though that it was even there if the girlfriend doesn't even show up. Oh well.
    Sorry this was such a disappointment, Jenna. Hope you find something amazing to bleach your memory of this book!
    My recent post Our 2016 Blogging Resolutions

    • The girlfriend does show up briefly at the end to add drama. She kinda turns up and goes "back off my boyfriend" but that was her only role. It was just so frustrating! The whole book was just frustrating and a huge disappointment. You were definitely right to DNF it! I wanted to DNF after about 50 pages but I wanted to give it a chance and see if Lucille could redeem herself. I'm just glad it was a quick read.

  13. I hate short senteces with a passion. I find books so hard to read when they use them a lot. I don't know it reads childish to me.
    I was quite looking foward to reading this book, but I haven't been hearing many great things about it.
    The problems that you had with the book seem to be things that would annoy me, and make me dislike the book and I hate reading books that I dislike.

    Thanks for the review.
    My recent post Book Review: Who’s Afraid by Maria Lewis

    • I don't mind short sentences if it's used properly as a device… but I need variety. I need a mixture of short and long sentences so it doesn't become one dimensional. This book just had writing that I could not stand and I think a lot of readers had the same problems that I did. I would pass on this one.

  14. *gives you cake for having to suffer through this* I think the writing is probably style…but, tbh, I think it'd have bugged me too? I'm all for short, crisp sentences, but the wording in that sentence you showed would've had me scratching my head too. aGH. And the characters sound really irritating too. D:

    • *accepts all the cake* I agree that the writing was probably a style thing that just didn't work for me but it just seemed a bit over the top, especially with all the metaphors that just didn't work. The book was definitely a miss for me.

  15. Wow Jenna! Gosh I can totally see where you are coming from when it comes to the writing, with all that stopping and starting and the metaphors, it would be hard to get into. Things never being resolved would be really frustrating too because upon reaching the end, you're like what's the point? I can't stand cheating, especially when the girlfriend is just brushed aside and the central romance to be made superior.

    It sounded like the depression and stuff should have been tackled in this book, especially when it sounds like there's lots of angst…but the romance kind of preceded it unfortunately.

    Thanks for your honest review Jenna!

  16. I really liked it, in fact our opinions are pretty much polar opposite on the writing and characterisation.

    Great review, wouldn't life be boring if we all liked the same things? 🙂

    • I know lots of reviewers who liked the writing and the character development in Lucille, so you're definitely not alone! It does keep things interesting to have some mixed opinions 😀

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