Title: Morpheus Road: The Light
Author: D. J. MacHale
Story Length: 344 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Psychological Horror
Back Cover of Morpheus Road: The Light
It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside a window–all things that can be explained away. That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on the pages of a sketchbook–a character Marshall himself created.
Marshall is quickly convinced these strange incidents have something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing. Together with Cooper’s beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he ever could have imagined.
Three Quick Points About Morpheus Road: The Light
- Point 1: More of a creepfest than a gorefest. Although I’d definitely place this book in the horror category, there’s a relatively small amount of blood and guts.
- Point 2: So. Much. Tension. It just didn’t stop. Right when you think all is well–BAM!–something else jumps out at you.
- Point 3: There’s a mystery begging to be solved. Too bad the second book isn’t out yet, because (and I can’t believe I’m going to say this…) OMG I can’t wait for it!
My Thoughts on Morpheus Road: The Light
(Below are my thoughts on the book. If you want a full rundown of the story, you can read the story summary, but be warmed: it includes spoilers.)
I actually kept flipping the last page back and forth hoping there would be more. I was hoping that by some miracle, the last page would transform into the second book in the series so I could continue because there was a huge teaser that left me bug-eyed and slack-jawed. But let me back up.
The story is narrated in Marshall’s own voice. He’s a somewhat idyllic sixteen year old who still plays video games, reads comic books—oops graphic novels, as he would correct—and builds model spaceships. On the surface he was somewhat immature, but it worked for him. He was a good kid through and through, though some would call him a geek through and through.
However, his best friend Cooper is his complete opposite. Cooper is a lady’s man, risk-taker, and borderline bad boy. In the beginning, I didn’t really feel the chemistry between these two characters, but as the story progressed and I witnessed the lengths to which Marshall would go for his friend, it felt more natural.
Then there’s Sydney. Oh, Sydney. I’m used to seeing the angst-ridden and brooding hero in YA literature, but this time it’s an angst-ridden and brooding heroine. Sydney is snarky and unapologetic in her virulence. But as the story progressed, we get to see a different side to her. She truly did evolve as a character and I absolutely love the evolution of her relationship with Marshall. It actually felt like an organic part of the story.
As far as character development goes, this book did an excellent job of making the main characters (Cooper and Sydney) real; they were imperfect and made mistakes and grew from those mistakes, while (most of) the secondary characters, including the villains, had just enough personality to make them entertaining.
Where this book shone, though, was the tension. This isn’t the typical horror that has killer clowns climbing out from under the bed with a scythe to lop off heads. This is the kind of horror that makes you question your own sanity. You’re inside Marshall’s head as he’s experiencing weird happenings—blood that can’t be explained, his character coming to life, the ground opening up and swallowing a VW Beetle—and it doesn’t take long for you to start questioning what’s real and what’s not right along with thim. This book had my heart racing more than a few times.
It’s also fast-paced. There are sections that offer a brief respite, but before you’ve had a chance to fully catch your breath, you’re swept up again. Not only that, this book was actually funny. Even under all the pressure, Marshall still had a sense of humor. Granted, in some of his quips, he makes references to bands, celebrities, and television shows which might be foreign to the younger generation and might date the book in a few years, but it was tastefully done.
I’ll admit there were a few moments where this book slipped into cliché-land, but frankly, it’s more than forgivable. This is one of the better YA horror-thriller-suspense-with-a-dash-of-mystery-thrown-in books I’ve read in a while.
Slightly wild tangent: I have to point out that although this is the first book in a series, it had a complete story in itself with the promise of another, bigger one lurking around the bend. In fact, it was a single sentence in the Epilogue (which I can’t share because it would be a MASSIVE spoiler) that made me ask WTF happened and when is the second book being published?
Lately I’ve been noticing a trend where the first book in a series is basically a prequel with no self-contained story—like a set up where nothing actually happens—and it always irks me when I come across them (am I the only one who’s noticed this and is annoyed by it?), which is why I appreciate this tidbit about Morpheus Road: The Light.
Rating: Worth Every Penny [HC] [B+] (?)