Huge thanks to Netgalley, as well as North Star Editions for sending me an ARC of ‘City of Shattered Light’ in exchange for an honest, unbiased review! All quotes in this review are subject to change upon release date.
About the Book
Title: City of Shattered Light
Authors: Claire Winn
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Trigger Warnings: strong language, gun violence, death, blood, mild gore, emotional abuse/manipulation, mild body horror (cybernetics), references to suicide, terminal illness, drug and alcohol references.
As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.
As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.
Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.
Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.
Cyberpunk, sapphic, diverse, good hearted criminals and found family. What more do I need? This book was amazing. I’m so impressed and believe me when I say I was shocked by the end of this. What a twist. If the synopsis didn’t sell you on this, just take a look at the cover. It’s so gorgeous (okay, I may or may not be obsessed . . . )
That left Riven, outnumbered.
But she’d never be outgunned.
Riven is exactly the type of character I needed to read about. She’s a gun-slinging, badass, take-no-crap kind of girl. I absolutely loved reading about her, and although she could be a little cold at times, she’s fiercely loyal and could actually be really nice. She’s the type of character that rarely shows her feelings and I was basically begging her to open up to people throughout this book. She can definitely be reckless, but she has good motivations and just wants to protect her family (which was so sweet, the whole found family element in this book was just amazing and so wholesome.) Overall, I found her personality to be pretty unique and I enjoyed reading about her, especially when she showed her love and care for her friends.
Her relationship with Samir and Ty was the sweetest thing ever (I don’t care what people say, I’m calling them siblings). Samir being her protective older brother and Ty being her younger one that she just has to protect. And the slow way she became friends with Asa was perfectly done, and true to both of their personalities.
Also, the fact that she’s apart of a crime syndicate is so cool.
Right now, she was a part of one of the galaxy’s biggest crime syndicates–a thief, a runaway, a liar. She was a nobody.
And she fit right in.
Asa was my type of girl. She’s smart, she has a kickass brain, and you gotta love her. She goes through so much character development and I really enjoyed watching it. I probably enjoyed her perspective more than Riven’s, just because it seemed a bit more interesting. She goes from a shy, naive girl who just wants to meet her father’s high expectations to someone who knows that they are enough (I love the messages the author is sending with this book, they’re all so relatable and positive).
Something I didn’t like, though, was the lack of complexity for the side characters. I always want likable and interesting side characters so I was disappointed in that aspect of the book. Ty, Samir and Diego were likable and sweet but the author barely went into their personalities and motivations which I didn’t like. The book would have improved a lot if she went into more depth.
I loved the romance, despite the love triangle between Asa, Riven and Ty. I really liked how it was a minor thing throughout the story and the only time it’s prominent is the end. There was so much tension and I was there for it. To be honest, though, I felt like Asa and Ty had more chemistry than Asa and Riven, which sounds kind of weird.
You might think you’re too good for Requiem, but you’d better damn respect it. It’ll devour you otherwise.
The world building was incredible. The author took cyberpunk and put an incredible, unique spin on it. I’ve never described worldbuilding as vibrant, but that’s what I think about when I think of this book. Claire Winn created a gorgeous world of Requiem, a lively, colorful, and ruthless planet filled with criminals, Cortellion, a prim, upper-class world with the best technology in the galaxy, and regular ol’ Earth. The way these places were described, the changes in mood when traveling to different planets, was all amazing. The descriptions were amazing, I could clearly imagine everything in my mind.
The writing was gorgeous. It wasn’t flowery at all, just vividly descriptive and I loved it. The dialogue were perfect and simple. Also, I loved the humor.
When all the world has burnt, even the ashes feel like home.
This plot never stops. It’s filled with twists and turns and betrayals that will break your heart. There are so many details wedged into each sentence and you never know what’s important. There are so many things happening at any given time. This book fills you with excitement and sadness and literally everything. The ending is heartbreaking and yay, it’s a cliffhanger because authors hate us.
Unfortunately, it was pretty easy to guess who the real antagonist was. I wish I had been kept on my toes throughout the mystery, but it was obvious who it was (or maybe that’s just me, since I watch a lot of mystery).
Is it weird that I need the 2nd book to come out when the first hasn’t even come out yet? Overall, City of Shattered Light was an electrifying cyber-punk debut novel by the talented author Claire Winn. I’m excited to read the sequel.
The city of shattered light. The place Kaya had wanted to start her life over. Despite the rumors, Asa couldn’t deny it was beautiful.