We light up the sky

Lilliam Rivera

Book - 2021

"Three Latinx teenagers struggle to deal with encounters with an alien, and try to warn the world of the possibility of an alien invasion"--

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Rivera Lilliam Checked In
Young adult fiction
Science fiction
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books 2021.
Main Author
Lilliam Rivera (author)
Physical Description
227 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 13+.
Grades 10-12.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

In a post-pandemic Los Angeles, three Latinx teens witness an alien invasion and struggle over whether to stay safe or fight back. Popular student Luna is still grieving her cousin Tasha, who died from COVID-19. Instagrammer Pedro avoids his abusive uncle by hanging out at a friendly drag bar. New student Rafa lives under an overpass with his tight-knit family. Caught up in their troubles, they miss the lights in the sky and the transforming wildlife until they run into Tasha, alive but decidedly strange. This alien version of Tasha references a coming "renewal," but who can the teens warn when authority figures won't take them seriously? Rivera portrays contemporary teenage life with empathy, using a mix of pop culture and social-justice politics to flesh out her characters. The sci-fi elements are underdeveloped: the aliens are explained in info-dumps, and their purpose, kept vague, unsubtly hints to humanity's inability to care for one another on a macro scale. Still, readers will be curious to see where this fast-paced, action-filled story goes after a twisty cliffhanger ending.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Three Latinx teens must team up to protect Earth and stop an alien invasion converging on a post-Covid-19 Los Angeles in Rivera's (Never Look Back) thought-provoking, genre-savvy work of speculative fiction. When a cadre of aliens known as the Visitors lands on Earth, Fairfax High students Pedro, Luna, and Rafa barely exist in each other's orbits. Well-dressed Pedro appears self-assured but struggles with a difficult home life; bright and popular Luna carries deep, still-raw grief; and quiet transfer student Rafa tries not to reveal that his family is unhoused. But when one of the Visitors takes on the likeness of Luna's dead cousin, the three must work together to warn their city of the latent alien threat and keep each other safe. Told in the third person and following the three teens' perspectives, Rivera grounds the novel in its setting--a vivid, fully realized alternate version of Los Angeles--and in the precision of her young protagonists' struggles and truths. Sharp social commentary, on-point humor ("I'm not mentally prepared for this part of the dystopia"), and a tender exploration of grief add heart and depth to a novel that's just right for fans of Attack the Block. Ages 13--up. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary. (Oct.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Rivera's sci-fi adventure sets aliens upon an issue-ridden Los Angeles. High school students Pedro, Luna, and Rafa are facing their own serious troubles when they're thrown together thanks to a dangerous otherworldly visitor. Luna is grieving the loss of her cousin Tasha, who died two years earlier from COVID-19, when Rafa sees Tasha--or someone like her--near the tent his family is living in. The trio must band together to find out what's happening as they dodge both real and alien troubles. Can they defeat the Visitor? Readers will empathize with the teens, whose POVs draw the audience into their narratives. Luna's grief in particular is palpable as she struggles to move on from Tasha's death, as everyone around her seems to expect her to. The cliff-hanger ending works within the story's framework. Scenes of police violence are woven throughout as the Visitor's stay turns deadly. VERDICT A layered tale of modern-day and sci-fi problems, woven together as a likable teen trio tries to save the day.--Elissa Bongiorno

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Review by Horn Book Review

Latinx teens Pedro, Luna, and Rafa attend the same Los Angeles high school but exist in different social orbits. Pedro is a well-known (but not well-liked) kid who uses social media to get the validation he doesn't receive at home. Luna is a popular girl who hides her feelings of grief and loneliness after the devastating loss of her beloved cousin Tasha to COVID-19. Rafa is a new kid who lives under a highway ramp; he has a fierce love of family but otherwise keeps to himself as a survival mechanism. Their disparate lives merge when an eerie teenager who looks exactly like Tasha arrives and begins wreaking murderous havoc on the city. When the (real) teens learn that "the Visitor's" appearance is the precursor to a wide-scale alien invasion, they must decide how to save a world that never seemed to want to save them. Rivera's (Pura Belpre honoree for Never Look Back, rev. 1/21) complex characterization and artful dialogue bring to life a near-contemporary world on the precipice of annihilation. Issues of racism, homelessness, and policing make this pre-apocalyptic novel feel especially relevant. Third-person narration alternates among the protagonists, providing a variety of perspectives. Fans of alien invasion novels grounded in the real world, such as Dow's The Sound of Stars and Yancey's The 5th Wave (rev. 5/13), will enjoy this engrossing story. S. R. Toliver January/February 2022 p.120(c) Copyright 2022. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Three teenagers in Los Angeles find themselves on the brink of an alien invasion. At Fairfax High, Pedro, Luna, and Rafa are not friends. Pedro is a loud, flashy dresser and a social media influencer whose sharp tongue conceals the pain he experiences from his harshly critical uncle. Luna rides high on the social ladder, but beneath her popularity she is saddled with penetrating grief from the death of her beloved cousin, Tasha, to Covid-19 two years prior. Rafa is a quiet outsider, fiercely focused on protecting his family--especially his little sister, Mónica--and currently living in a tent under the highway. This unlikely trio comes together to solve the puzzling appearance of a strange teenage girl who looks exactly like Tasha. Rivera offers an eerie, immersive page-turner that immediately grips readers in large part because of her skilled characterization that adds emotional richness to an engaging extraterrestrial mystery. The bond that develops between Pedro, Luna, and Rafa reflects the ways that humanity can come to the fore even when faced with the most terrifying of dangers. The inclusion of the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and the distrust of communities of color toward the police paints just the right social context for the lives of these near-contemporary Southern California teens. Characters are cued as Latinx. An engrossing and exceptionally relevant pre-apocalyptic tale that begs for a sequel. (Science fiction. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.