Title: We Light up the Sky
Author: Lilliam Rivera
Genre/s and Tags:Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Aliens
In a haunting, genre-bending YA, award-winning author Lilliam Rivera explores the social and racial ramifications of an alien invasion from the perspective of three Latinx teens.
Pedro, Luna, and Rafa may attend Fairfax High School together in Los Angeles, but they run in separate spheres. Pedro is often told that he’s “too much” and seeks refuge from his home life in a local drag bar. Luna is pretending to go along with the popular crowd but is still grieving the unexpected passing of her beloved cousin Tasha. Then there’s Rafa, the quiet new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is homeless.
But Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find themselves thrown together when an extraterrestrial visitor lands in their city and takes the form of Luna’s cousin Tasha. As the Visitor causes destruction wherever it goes, the three teens struggle to survive and warn others of what’s coming–because this Visitor is only the first of many. But who is their true enemy–this alien, or their fellow humans? Can Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find a way to save a world that has repeatedly proven it doesn’t want to save them?
Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Lilliam Rivera examines the days before a War of the Worlds-inspired alien invasion in this captivating and chilling new novel.
Thank you to B2Weird book club & tours as well as Bloomsbury for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Aliens come to earth and everyone has a good time (jk no one does lmao).
Pedro, Luna and Rafa may all go to the same school, but they don’t normally run in the same circles. Pedro’s home life is far from ideal and spends most of his time at his local drag bar. Luna runs with the popular kids, but she’s still grieving the loss of her beloved cousin Tasha. Rafa is the quiet yet kind new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is houseless.
When an alien comes to Earth and takes on the form of Tasha, the three must reunite in order to figure out why the Visitor is on Earth. As the Visitor gets increasingly more violent, the three must figure out how to stop it without getting caught in the crossfire.
This book is like a mix of contemporary and alien invasion. Two things you wouldn’t think work at first, but surprisingly work very well together. We rotate POVs between these three and while this can happen within the same chapter, the way its written always lets you know who the narrator is.
I found these three very compelling narrators, especially Luna. Her grief was so relatable for me and I just wanted to give her a hug. Really though all three of our narrators need hugs. They’re all too soft I love them! I liked that we got to know the cast before everything starts getting alien wild. We see the kids at school and with their families. But as things start to get more preposterous with the Visitor, we watch the kids get closer and begin relying on each other.
The plot was exciting and paced well. I never felt bored with this book. I liked how we got vague and broad clues from the omniscient narrator that things weren’t as they appear or that certain actions would have overarching effects. The ending was stressful in the best way. I really hope there will be a spin-off or a sequel because the ending was slightly mean! I need closure pleaseeeee.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this story to contemporary and sci-fi lovers.
Rep: Latine (Puerto Rican) female MC, Latine (Mexican-American) pansexual male MC, queer (Mexican-American) Latine male MC, Latine side characters.
CWs: Blood, body horror, colonisation, death, fire, gore, grief, gun violence, injury/injury detail, medical content (death from COVID-19), murder, violence. Moderate: emotional abuse, police brutality, racism.