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The Light at the Bottom of the World

by London Shah

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774264,802 (3.56)1
At the end of the 21st century the world has changed dramatically, and London is underwater. Sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben, but 16-year-old Leyla has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness - a debilitating malaise that consumes people, often claiming their lives. When Leyla's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, she gets the chance to secure his freedom. But things do not go as planned, and if she fails she risks capture - and her father might be lost forever.… (more)

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Showing 4 of 4
It's such an interesting premise, but for me the book was too much action with very little reflection. It's 2099, and the world has been flooded for decades after being hit with a meteorite. Everyone who's left is living below the ocean, because the weather on the surface is not conducive to human life.

Leyla, the main character is a teen with phenomenal skill at racing submersibles. Her father has been taken by the government and falsely accused of encouraging people suffering from seasickness to take their own lives. She enters the London Marathon in hopes of winning the prize and asking the Prime Minister for her father's freedom.

It is a fast-paced story and the world-building is intriguing, and may well appeal to younger teens who like adventure. At the end, it's obvious that there's a sequel in the works, but like many YA novels, it seems to end abruptly, after something horrific happens. The author spends little time having Leyla bemoan this fresh disaster, before turning to a philosophical discussion. It's as if a timer goes off, and the author says, OK, more than 300 pages in, it's time to wrap this up.

For me, one installment was enough. It didn't make much headway in my library with teens, and I suspect the English setting would work better for English teens, who are familiar with the places that are mentioned. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Nov 8, 2020 |
Summary:
In a near future, Global Warming has run its course- the continents are flooded and humans must learn to live underwater in submerged dwellings called pods. Seasickness, a severe form of depression affects many people. Leyla’s father is arrested for his involvement in the deaths of the Seasickness afflicted. Leyla knows her father is innocent but how to prove it? When given a chance at a dangerous submarine race where the winner is granted whatever their heart desires, Leyla is determined to win and set her father free.
Winning is easier said than done. Leyla is saddled with an unwanted team mate who has questionable motives. Terrorist attacks by Anthropoids, an engineered race originally created by humans, further complicates an already dangerous situation. When information arrives that Leyla’s father isn’t even in London, Leyla will have to tackle uncharted waters and swim through murky political agendas to figure out the truth and free her father.

Evaluation:
This is a very interesting world set in a near future that could be real. The world building is well rendered and highly believable. The characters, especially Leyla are well rounded and grow organically throughout the story. There is plenty of action and heart stopping moments for action fans and the plot brings up thoughtful questions that will make the reader ponder long after the story is finished. The representation of the multi-ethnic cast is a nice addition. Overall, a good read with a strong, female character. Recommended for grades 6-10. ( )
  SWONroyal | Jan 27, 2020 |
Student review by: Lindsey R. (10th grade)
Grade Range: 8th Grade and up
Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Excellent

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah is about a young girl named Leyla. Her father was arrested for something he didn’t do, and all she can really think about is getting him out of prison. The book takes place in a future version of London that is swarmed with all of the sea’s creatures, which makes humanity lose hope. Leyla is selected to join a race with other citizens, and the prize from the Prime Minister is whatever they desire, which for her would be her father’s freedom, but it will be a difficult journey and it is not absolute that she will claim victory.

This book was not a difficult read at all, but it was full of action and mystery. It shows that people will go far to stand up for what they believe in. It shows the importance of love between a family. Leyla would not stop fighting to get her father back even through the great challenges she faced. It was definitely not an easy book to put down once you were into it. The book showed how even when times are tough, people will pull through to help those they love and care about. The writing style was excellent, constantly making the reader question what was going to happen next, with lots of plot twists. The book got slow a lot, but that was made up for with the full-on action scenes.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who like action-packed books that are easily understandable and suspenseful. ( )
  SWONroyal | Dec 17, 2019 |
A watery world is pretty much my worst possible Dystopian setting. I'm no fan of the water and living on a planet that is all water, and no air disturbed me a bit. The writing itself is descriptive and poetic. You'll be amazed at the world-building. I'd compare it to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games in the atmosphere.

It's a terrific SciFi novel. Teenager Leyla McQueen, a British/Afghan Muslim submersible racer, is a delight. She's optimistic and is the kind of character that you want to succeed. The year is 2099, and all of surviving humanity is living underwater after an asteroid hits Earth. You'll get plenty of British scenery (from the Old World), even though things have changed in the new reality of life on Earth. The descriptions of this modern society were captivating. So much is new, while people act out in the same ways that they do now.
Without giving away spoilers or too much plot, it's hard to say more. I feel that with some stories, it's best not to know too much before you read it yourself.
If you need to label it, I'm honestly not sure if it's more dystopian, science fiction, or political conspiracy? In any case, once you start reading, it's a hard book to put down

It's genuinely unlike, while still being amazing, most of the YA that I've read this year! Grab a copy on October 29, 2019. ( )
  JennyNau10 | Dec 7, 2019 |
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At the end of the 21st century the world has changed dramatically, and London is underwater. Sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben, but 16-year-old Leyla has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness - a debilitating malaise that consumes people, often claiming their lives. When Leyla's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, she gets the chance to secure his freedom. But things do not go as planned, and if she fails she risks capture - and her father might be lost forever.

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