the Light – Jim Alexander

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*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

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Blurb:  ‘the Light’ explores a world where you wake up and know this is the day you die. How would such a world shape the way we think, our views on each other and society, how we conduct our personal and financial affairs; how we live and how we will die?

On a daily basis, people are required to take the Light; a device that ascertains whether this will be their last day. Between investigating this new world order and the story of one ordinary person forced to cope in extraordinary circumstances, discover a world so achingly similar to our own, but different in one shattering, all-encompassing way.

When approaching death, whether dying in your sleep or experiencing your whole life flashing in front of your eyes, in the end it is no longer a case of floating towards the light. ‘the Light’ wants to find you first.

In the Light, Jim Alexander shows us the psychological effects on humanity when we know – for certain – when our last day of life will be.

His sci-fi dystopia shows a post-Event world, where everyone can touch a light panel in their own home, or in public, and the light either confirms that their life will continue for another 24 hours, or advises that this is their final day. Starting with someone who has received that condemnatory knowledge, Alexander then goes on to explore this scenario through the eyes of ‘everyman’ Si as he grapples with moral and philosophical questions relating to accepting the Light and its corollaries, or… shockingly… not complying and falling out of ‘the system’ altogether.

In addition to Si’s emotional journey, we also get glimpses into other mindsets – those related to the creation and development of the Light, the devout of the religion based around the Light and those who oppose it. Through this exploration of life, death, and how both might change with such certainty, the reader is presented with the opportunity to reflect on their own ethical positions and beliefs, and what knowing the day of your death might do to a person, physically, psychologically and philosophically.

There are also some horror-tinged aspects to the story, as we are faced with those happy to die those afraid to die, and the pitiful inevitability of not only being severed from ones family, friends and worldly goods, but being forced to experience said severance fully and witness helplessly as the impending doom comes down. A lot rang true here, from disagreements with loved ones about how the final day should be spent (and the money), to the whole process having quickly become the new normal, incorporated into one of the mildly inconvenient routines of daily life, like the morning commute or mid-video adverts online. It was shocking to me how little resistance there seemed to be, and how those that did resist were marginalised as a fringe minority. Yet, sadly, also not that shocking, as we see similar situations all around us and realise that people can accept just about anything to avoid disruption to their own inner realities.

This is my second Jim Alexander book (I previously reviewed the – very different – GoodCopBadCop) and he has shown that he is adept at combining such moral exploration with a well-written plot and well-developed characters, ethics with entertainment. His books share the similarity of encouraging critical thought and emotional engagement with the contents, in a way that reflects new light on current affairs. There is no telling what will come from this author next – dark or light – but it is certain to be unique, interesting and provocative.

   There were no loopholes, or was it simply that people had stopped looking for them, afraid of what they might find instead.  That life was a secondary concern.  That everything that led up to the here and now was ancillary and superfluous.  Meaningless.  Geoff was not alone in facing a day like no other, frightened out of his wits; matters made worse by the real possibility that his Last Day was closer to the finishing than the starting line.  It was the realisation that scared him half to death.
Over half, as was likely the case.

– Jim Alexander, the Light

You can follow Jim Alexander on Twitter and Goodreads, and also find more from him at Planet Jimbot on Facebook and Twitter.

the Light is available on Amazon right now!

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