We Light Up the Sky

Bloomsbury. Nov. 2021. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781547603763.
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.

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