“LUMINOUS,” by Dawn Metcalf, Dutton Juvenile, June 30, 2011, $17.99 (young adult)
There are a number of scenarios that readers can expect when reading “Luminous” by Dawn Metcalf — they’ll get it, or they won’t get it, or they’ll appreciate it but not like it, or they’ll both appreciate it and like it. Clear as mud, right?
While the above descriptions sound like “No duh,” they do actually make sense in this case.
“Luminous” is by far the most different, mind-bending book I’ve read so far this year. Readers are asked to look at the world and their own existence through an unusual lens.
Consuela has a hard time discerning between reality and her new existence in the Flow. The Flow is outside of our world, yet part of it. Life in the Flow is new and exciting, complicated and tenuous.
Each person in the Flow has a persona unique to that which they had in the real world. Consuela has a gift, too — she can exchange her earthly skin for new skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air.
As Consuela begins to feel comfortable with the Flow, she also learns she has a role to play. She, along with the other teens, must safeguard the world they seemingly left behind.
When a murderer begins to unleash his fury on the Flow, Consuela begins to realize that even this new, magical existence is fragile.
Ambiguous is the perfect word to describe “Luminous.” The Flow itself and the majority of Metcalf’s of characters are never really fully fleshed out. It feels like this is a deliberate decision by the author, but some readers will find it a distraction rather than an asset.
The story itself is intriguing, and Consuela’s ability to shed her skin is both shocking and amazingly cool at the same time. Metcalf’s prose is lyrical and her descriptions of Consuela’s skins are beautiful.
“Luminous” leaves a lot of the story up to the reader, and some might find that off-putting.