The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light the Abyss #1) by London Shah

At the end of the 21st century, the Earth’s surface has become a toxic wasteland forcing humans to live at the bottom of the ocean. Sea creatures swim through the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, while Great Britain’s human residents vacillate between fear and hope: fear of the abyss that surrounds them and hope that one day they can reclaim the surface.

Leyla McQueen’s father has been arrested by the government, but no one will tell her the truth of why he’s been arrested or where he’s been taken. When Leyla is chosen as a competitor for the London submersible marathon, she knows how to get the answers she needs. The prime minister has promised the winner will get their heart’s desire. But things take a turn for the unexpected after the marathon and Leyla sets out into the unknown to find her father amidst troubled waters.

This was such a unique story! A world at the bottom of the ocean!? Who would’ve thought. Honestly, even the notion is terrifying and amazing. Shah has created something amazing with this novel and I definitely won’t forgot it soon. Leyla was a great protagonist too. She is of Afghan descent, and Muslim, which is something we don’t see a lot of in YA. We need more MCs of color and various religious backgrounds. I loved her faith and how it was simply a part of her everyday life.

On Leyla’s journey through the ocean, her grandfather surprises her by stowing aboard his friend’s son, Ari. Leyla doesn’t know what to make of the moody boy with trust issues. But as the two continue to work together, they come to realize some important secrets the government of Great Britain has been twisting for its own use. They way Shah has touched on some very political issues was very well done. Leyla is constantly unsure of what to believe and I think a healthy dose of skepticism can keep a person alive.

Plus the arthopoids, which are the “monsters”, were so cool! They are basically humans with gills. I loved learning about them and can’t wait to see where book 2 will take this story!

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