Refraction

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review. Also, thanks to Page Street Kids and The Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a finished copy!

Content Warning: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Death, Gore, Injury

Refraction is a fast-paced Sci-Fi thriller packed full of surprise and character depth. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the story was told by a male lead, and there was no romance! (It’s such a refreshing feeling to read about a different character dynamic. I'm getting tired of the “strong female lead who doesn't need anyone to help her” being in the spotlight constantly).

Marty Callahan does not disappoint in character. After an alien invasion on Earth, he has had to learn how to survive on his own, and survival doesn’t always look pleasant. Marty has taken up the occupation as a mirror-dealer. Since the invasion, mirrors, and anything with reflective surfaces have become outlawed as they cause fears to manifest. Desperate to buy passage to London--one of the few cities still contactable since the invasion, and where his brother was last known to be--Marty will stop at nothing to get there. The eerie fog surrounding the island makes escape to the mainland utterly impossible. Anyone who enters the fog is killed within moments by the creatures that lurk there.

The island becomes smaller and smaller, and Marty is finally caught. He’s banished to the mainland, AKA his death, along with the mayor’s son. What makes his banishment most interesting is Marty’s struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His struggles are craftily worked into the scenarios throughout this story that make his character tangible, as if the reader is living his story. I thought that this aspect was done so well, and I really enjoyed how the author crafted his entire character.

Refraction is a unique story that brings to light how fears can consume someone if they aren’t kept in check. This will be the perfect read for anyone who likes The Illuminae Files.

Vulgarity: None.
Sexual content: None.
Violence: Moderate.

My Rating: ★★★★
Was this review helpful?
I loved this! I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! It was different from what I expected, but this was better!
I really liked that this book had a male POV, I haven’t read many books lately with male POV so that was nice for a change.
In this story aliens have attacked, and there are only certain parts of the world still alive/liveable. We are on one of the islands that is still alive, but scary things are happening around them. There is weird fog, and beings coming out of mirrors. Which was quite scary!
This whole book we read from Marty’s perspective, and his view was so interesting. He is definitely not a perfect character, he has done some ‘bad’ things, but with the intention to see his brother again. So I thought that was kinda cute. Another big character is Elliot, who catches Marty doing something illegal. But by doing that, he gets both of them exiled from their island. Which means they now have to survive the fog, the beings, and the mirrors. While trying to survive together a friendship is being built, and I loved it!
Was this review helpful?
Refraction by Naomi Hughes was an intense, compelling, ultimately fun read that I kept itching to pick back up. During work or driving home, I’d be thinking about where I left off and what theories or guesses I had about the story. Ultimately, I enjoyed this a lot. Another win for YA Horror in 2019.

First and foremost, the characters felt real and so did their connection. They felt like people: engaging, likable and flawed. I still rooted for them. I wanted them to survive. Marty’s drive to get to his brother and Eliot’s need for approval were so relatable, honest, and human that my empathy survived through every fumble, twist, and turn. 

I also loved that there wasn’t a romance in this book. I don’t mind romance, usually I enjoy it, but because it seems to be in absolutely every story lately, this was— a refreshing change of pace. It was nice to not be distracted for once, especially in a story where it would have felt forced. It wasn’t needed. The story kicked ass on its own.

The plot was wild, dark, and frequently terrifying. I’ve always been particularly creeped out by scary stories involving mirrors and this one took that trope and ran with it. The author does a fantastic job of keeping the reader guessing and the reveal(s) took me off guard more than once.

Not everyone likes an open ending, but I do. This one left just enough room for the imagination, while providing enough of a foundation to still be satisfying. I’d love to read a sequel, if that’s in the cards. Who knows?

Ultimately, I enjoyed Refraction a whole lot. I have high hopes whenever I dive into a YA scary story, and this mix of horror and sci-fi was the perfect tone to set my spine tingling. I loved the focus and detail the story was written with, and it was just unbelievable enough that I was swept up along for the ride. If this genre is your jam, don’t miss Refraction this year.
Was this review helpful?
Refraction
Naomi Hughes
Page Street Kids, November 2019
ISBN 978-1624148903
Hardcover

From the publisher—

After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade―until he’s caught by the mayor’s son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many abandoned cities overrun by fog. But they soon realize their thoughts influence their surroundings and their deepest fears begin to manifest.

There is much to like about this book but two things in particular really made me love it—(1) the main characters are boys and (2) there’s no romance. No, girls do not have to be the stars of everything 😉

Marty is a flawed character in any number of ways, not least of which is his propensity to do what’s best for himself even if it’s not legal or good for anyone else; in fact, he has been known to actually put others in harm’s way. Despite that, he works hard to control his OCD and his ultimate goal is to find his brother. Before the alien attack, Marty was making progress under therapy to manage his OCD but it’s much more difficult now without professional help and, of course, medication is no longer available.

Earth is in shambles after the aliens brought monsters and survival is predicated on a strict ban on reflective surfaces because that’s how the monsters get through. That ban, quite naturally, created a black market for mirrors and Marty is a player. When he gets caught by another teen, Elliott, both are headed for real trouble, sent into the deadly fog. The two boys are on their own and have to rely on each other, developing a real friendship as they come to know and trust each other.

The plot here is creative and well-planned, keeping me flipping electronic pages to find out what would happen next. The author’s characterizations are vivid and appealing and the monsters are just as scary as they should be…almost as much as Elliott’s mother. Also, not to repeat myself, it’s really refreshing to have a story focused on two boys.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.
Was this review helpful?
In a dystopian world where aliens came and launched an attack on earth using a strange fog and mirrors to set forth horrifying creatures on the population, only a few places survived. Mirrors have now been banned but of course, there are always those who rebel against these laws and bans, such as one 17-year-old Marty Callahan who distributes mirrors illegally, until the day he’s caught by Elliot, the mayor’s son and they are both exiled into the fog, at the mercy of unnatural beasts.

Marty was a scoundrel—selfish, unrepentant and he did whatever it took to get what he wanted, no matter who he hurt. He also had OCD. For all those who live with OCD, you know how your mind can be a hellish place, an inescapable prison chaining you with your deepest fears. In spite of those constraints, Marty kept his illegal business going without being caught.

Until Elliot, who was the complete opposite of Marty. Elliot saved people, he tried to do what was right—tried to earn his mother’s approval which wasn’t forthcoming. They were forced to work together in order to survive and along the way, shocking truths came to light.

I have to admit I liked Elliot better but I also admire Marty at the same time for trying so hard to fight his OCD. I understood him and I could relate with his struggle. Both Elliot and Marty were strong personalities and the author did a great job showing their character growth.

Let’s talk plot. The plot was excellent with an intriguing storyline wrapped up in secrets and superb twists that kept me turning page after page. The scenes were fast-paced and dynamic. The author’s writing style was pretty good and I had no trouble envisioning the scenes in my head.

I enjoyed this book way more than I’d expected. Refraction was a solid, good story with a clever plot-line that kept you guessing and wanting more.
Was this review helpful?
I did not have strong feelings one way or the other about this book, neither disliked nor strongly liked. The portrayal of a protagonist with OCD was unique and thorough, and I liked that it impacted the character's actions and experiences without becoming the only thing the plot was about (as has been the case with other stories I've read recently involving mental health).
Was this review helpful?
This really was a hard book to put down. Whenever I did, I found myself itching to pick it back up, to find out what was going to happen next. Not only was the plot riveting though, but the characters were very engaging and likable, even with all of their faults. I found myself rooting for their survival. But the best part about this story was that there was no romance! None, nothing, not even a hint. So, YA can be done without romance and still be awesome!

Marty is the sole narrator of this tale. His is a bit of an ass, but his love for his brother and his need to get to him, is what drives him. He has OCD, which ends up having a major role in the story. His internal struggle with his OCD, seemed spot on to me. He mostly had it under control before he was exiled, but then as things go from bad to worse, the OCD comes back full force and sometimes puts his life at risk. But Marty has a good side too. He is braver then he thinks, and when things get tough he often pulls through with some amazing saves.

Elliot is also a bit of an ass at times. He is a bit self-righteous and his need to have his mother’s approval is what makes him do what he does. I often felt sorry for him, his relationship with his mother was so broken, but he kept trying to get her to accept him. There were a few times I thought he would leave Marty to his fate, but then he starts to accept him and his flaws. It was nice to see their friendship develop through out this harrowing story.

The plot of this story is what keeps you wanting more. It is dark and often terrifying. The monsters that come out of the mirrors are scary and come from some of your worst nightmares. The author really does a great job of keeping you guessing what is really going on, and it really throws you for a loop when you find out. This alien invasion is unlike anything I have read before, but it is very close to what would probably happen when and if others ever come to our planet. I loved the ending, and it was left a little bit open for perhaps a sequel? Although if there isn’t one, that is okay.

An amazingly well done alien invasion, end of the world story with a great twist. This is a story that you don’t want to miss.
Was this review helpful?
REFRACTION is a highly readable/devourable book that is certainly a page-turner. In the post-apocalyptic future, a small island appears to be the only place to have survived an alien landing. A strange ship showed up in the sky and mirrors are the tools through which aliens have sent Beings to destroy humankind. The island has survived by outlawing mirrors.

Marty has hopes that his brother is still out there somewhere, and he is determined to get to him. He illegally deals in mirrors to gather the funds he needs to find his brother. The penalty for such dealings is exile, which essentially equates to death with the Beings who are out there. When he is caught by the mayor's son, and they are exiled together, their journey becomes even stranger than the lone island they came from, and bigger questions and answers arise.

To avoid spoilers, I will be somewhat vague. The plot was quite creative with plenty of twists and turns. A lot of questions come up earlier and they are all answered by book's end. The strongest part of the book is the main character, Marty, and how he lives with his OCD. The book does a great job of describing this as well as his past therapies/treatments, and the portrayal really brings OCD to life for people who do not have this disorder. Given the setting/other events, this may seem like a smaller part of the story, but I found it to be the most poignant and the biggest takeaway from a solid sci-fi/dystopian read.

Overall, this is a great YA sci-fi read- not only for the page-turning, fast-paced, and mind-stretching plot that keeps the reader hooked, but also, mainly, for the powerful #ownvoices portrayal of a main character with OCD. Highly recommend picking this one up.

Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
The premise for this book is top notch. I love in books when the world goes to shit, it really brings out the best and worst in people. Some just try and get by, some help those around them and some are out for themselves. Marty falls into the last category. He is a selfish arse, who just wants to get to his brother, unfortunately he is on the other side of the world.
Elliot is the mayor's son who is willing to cross the line to catch the bad guys. Unfortunately for him that makes him a bad guy in his mothers eyes.
These two men couldn't be more different and now they are stuck together in the fog, learning about the new world, themselves and each other. They have to learn how to survive and in doing so they may discover the truth about their world.

Having your deepest fears come to life is probably as bad as it gets really. For Marty, who suffers from OCD and has severe anxiety symptoms, it is literally the stuff of nightmares. He struggles to control his thoughts at the best of times let alone when they could manifest monsters. The tension built throughout really well. The story moved a long quite quickly so you never got bored. You could easily sit down and read this in a day, it's incredibly compelling.
This is a book that I think is best read without knowing to much about the story. Let that gorgeous cover suck you in and avoid the detailed reviews until afterwards.

I will say that my favourite part of this book was Marty's character arc. Damn he had some growth. Also the description of his symptoms and mental health issues were so spot on. While I was reading it, I was convinced that the author had been through the same or similar issues to Marty, because the way she explained them and the shame we attach to our inability to control them was incredibly relatable.
I don't have OCD but I know those feelings of shame and frustration. It is something I think many with mental health issues can understand. It turns out that this is "own voices", so she was very much writing what she knows. And she does it honestly and respectfully.
Was this review helpful?
Having these books fall into my hands was a godsend given that we are looking to add more horror and real feeling horror at that. It is so hard to find books that are written well in character development, plot, and creepy factor but I think we’ve found a great one. The character design in this book really good, it’s not perfect, but it IS really good. I enjoyed reading all the descriptions, development, and love put into the characters from the very beginning. Many of the characters and families have found themselves in a dangerous world but they also try to make things normal especially when something seemingly as harmless as a mirror has become a weapon, something to fear. 

I really loved delving into the world that the author created as it is such a magnificent creature in and of itself—MIRRORS! MIRRORS! I hate them in the first place but now I think I may give them a second glance of hatred. The many traditions and customs that she created was great and I really enjoyed seeing that in a book—we don’t see that written so great often. The characters in this book caught my attention so much and I believe that students would be able to connect to the different characters as well (there is someone for everyone). This can be utilized for many grades and many different groups of people—it would be a great book club book. It is great for both girls and boys as it caters to a little bit of both in this creepy well thought out world.

I enjoyed the fighting, protecting, and action that this book provides in a multi-dimensional way (nothing is just black & white here),  There is a lot of backstory that can help you understand what is happening cover to cover. I would suggest this book for a book club or even independent reading as it is not a difficult read and definitely has the high interest aspect to it that all students can get with. The characters that rush into danger is immediately something that my students would gravitate to and love to read—because who doesn’t love action in every form? Especially when it is something, in our world, that is so normal and so often seen. 

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a mirror the same.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the OCD rep in it. As an own voices reviewer for this book I found it to be really well done and relatable. The plot was intriguing and had me gripped from the first page.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the plot twist 3/4 of the way through.  I don't know anyone with OCD but I did feel that the portrayal of the main character was very realistic.  I liked how Marty evolved throughout the book.
Was this review helpful?
I read the synopsis for this book and I thought: “Wow, this is either going to be exceptionally bad or exceptionally good.” I was attracted to it because of the idea of mirrors unleashing bad things (referencing Constantine in my head), and the fact that it had aliens. The potential for a queer relationship added to some of the appeal. But oh, it could have went so horribly wrong.

Except… it didn’t.

Refraction was everything my previous read (Salvation Day) was not. I was immediately hooked by the story. I read it in two sittings with an unavoidable break between them. I was captivated and could never guess what was going to happen next. What happened next was always a new level of “Holy shit!” as well.

An absurd premise: An alien invasion, an isolated town, reflective surfaces summoning demons (and yet of course there are one two dumb shits who want to sell you the reflective stuff FOR REASONS). Then unbelievable stuff is found out,and then more unbelievable stuff,and finally just when you’re at that wall of “Oh, c’mon, seriously, what can you come up with next?” You’re left going “Well… there’s that.” and at that point you just sort of give up guessing and let the author finish her story without any of your silly little guessing games.

She finishes it very well once you let her get about her business.

And as for the possible hanky-panky that I expected to find? There was NONE. Not even just between the main characters. Just none in general. Hallelujah, it has been proven that a YA book can be written without the hormones making things go screwy. Naomi Hughes, I salute you! (And bless you, actually.) This is the type of story I was dying to read!

Overall, folks, Refraction gets high marks from me across the board. You gotta check this one out.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for providing and eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Refraction is a book I wanted to love, after all it's sci-fi, and lately that is enough of a reason for me to pick up a book. The synopsis tells you very little. In a world where deadly monsters are created in reflections, a teen with OCD becomes a black market mirror dealer and risks his and others' lives to be able to find his brother. It sounds interesting and unique. It sounds like a recipe for a success... but I found it clunky. 

Marty is an interesting protagonist. I've never read about anyone with OCD and I appreciate books with underrepresented topics and characters. There was nothing about Marty, or the OCD itself, I didn't like. He's a morally grey character, who often sees himself as the bad guy, and it definitely adds to his depth.
The second main character, Elliot, is also well developed and multidimensional. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his mother. I believe characters are the main strength of this book. I loved the dynamic between the two boys and I would like to see it develop a bit more, as I thought there was a lot of chemistry between the two.

The monsters spawning from mirror reflections sounded like the coolest idea ever. Just the right amount of spooky. Unfortunately, somewhere between the writing and pacing of the plot, the spookiness disappeared, and I was left with... chaos. I expected my heart to race every time there was even a possibility of one of those Beings popping up, but it just didn't. Something about the writing made it not scary. The Beings kept appearing every few chapters and not once did I fear for the main characters, not once did I think that maybe this time something will happen to them. And when it finally did – I didn't much care.

In many parts the book lacked atmosphere. I wanted to feel spooked. I wanted to be able to imagine the world. I wanted to find out about everything gradually. Unfortunately, the main mystery of the book and the plot was all handed to me on a silver platter in a form of a long info dumpy monologue. I feel like all the good ideas were there – the execution just lacked... It left me feeling meh. I speed read the last 3 chapters because I knew exactly where the story was going and how it was going to end.

The whole alien part didn't suit the story. I stand by it being an amazing idea – it really was, alien part included – but with the way it was executed, it felt nearly like a different story. I wish it was all connected better, described better and... just executed better. 

In the end, I think Refraction had heaps of potential which wasn't reached, hence my 3 star rating. I think many people will still enjoy this book, I did, too, just not nearly as much as I wanted to.
Was this review helpful?
I fell asleep reading REFRACTION - Naomi Hughes- and promptly jumped right back in to finish it the next day! Awesome, original, fast paced sci-fi read provided for review purposes. I can’t wait for my teen to read it next. 

With the earth covered in fog after an alien ship looking like glass is shot, all mirrors and reflective surfaces are banned / outlawed on the island where the mayor rules without mercy for sellers and buyers. Reflective surfaces are portals which bring in horrors and death to anyone looking into the reflections, and some unlucky enough to be bystanders. 

Marty sells mirrors on the black market desperately hoping to be able to get to his brother in London, but ends up caught & exiled along with the mayor’s son who was trying to bust him. Marty & his nemesis Elliot (aka The Boy Scout - Eagle Scout, The Shadowhunter, mayor’s son) are both exiled into the fog where the horrors roam free. YES, the mayor, set on making her fog-free island a safe haven, exiles her own son for buying a mirror to capture Marty. 

As the two enemies, Marty (aka criminal) & Elliot (Boy Scout) try to survive in the fog, they realize everything isn’t as they originally thought. They have to learn to work together through Marty’s OCD & both of their own issues simply to survive their worst fears. The OCD adds interesting challenges without actually overpowering the action, fear, and terror feel of the story. 

This book is exciting and full of twists and turns. The beings that come from the mirrors are pretty freaky, gory, and detailed. Things from your worse nightmare kind of stuff. 

#refraction #naomihughes
Was this review helpful?
#Refraction #NetGalley
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Refraction.
After reading Refraction, I was pleasantly surprised at how the author dealt with OCD and anxiety within the novel. I know from personal experience how challenging it can be to live with everyday. I think that this novel is very original and unique. I love the idea of the mirrors and how the twists throw you off here and there in the book. A definite must read for 2019.
Was this review helpful?
Refraction by Naomi Hughes- This face-paced sci-fi novel is definitely one my students will love. The earth is suddenly covered in fog after an alien ship which looked like glass was shot down forming a ring of mirrors around the earth. The aliens retaliate by turning all mirrors and reflective surfaces on earth to portals through which they attack. Mirrors, glasses, and other reflective surfaces have been outlawed. Marty makes a living on the black market by selling these very items, after all, you could always use them against your enemies and people are willing to pay a lot of money to get rid of their enemies. If caught, you are exiled into the fog where the aliens roam free waiting for their next victim.  The governor, set on making her fog-free island a safe haven, rules with a heavy hand and will not tolerate anyone selling or buying mirrors. So when her own son sets up a sting to purchase a mirror from Marty, he receives the same sentence and they are exiled together. The two decide to try to make it back to the island, but must learn how to work together if they want to survive. This is an exciting read with a great twist. #refraction #naomihughes
Was this review helpful?