BOOK REVIEW: Blue Light by Walter Mosley
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A mysterious blue light originating from space endows several people with special abilities.
PROS: Fast-paced story; a quick read; memorable characters; interesting tale.
CONS: Some dialogue/descriptions too mystical at times.
BOTTOM LINE: A superb story that immerses the reader.
Let’s set the record straight. Blue Light is not a science fiction story, regardless of what other reviewers and fans may say. (“Thrill to the wonder of Mosley’s first sf novel!”) It is not science fiction for the simple reason that it lacks any science, much less science that is integral to the story. Even sf author Octavia Butler says so. Personally, I would classify this book as a horror/fantasy hybrid. So, I was a little disappointed at first, asking “Where’s the sf?” in my best internal Clara Peller voice. Then, without realizing it, the book had me hooked. Blue Light made up for my initial disappointment and then some.
The plot goes like this: In 1965, mysterious beams of blue light originating from space descend upon northern California. Those it touches are transformed – elevated to a state of higher being. Each one gains a unique special power. Eventually, the “Blues” find each other and form a congregation. As they search for their purpose in the universe, they are stalked by an evil force. This sets the stage for a battle between good and evil.
Mosley does a fantastic job of creating crisp images of the numerous characters introduced in the story. The reader has no problem keeping them all straight. The story is narrated by Chance, a suicidal mulatto embittered over his racial origins and the discrimination to which he was subjected. Chance was originally unaffected by the light, but later he is given the power to “read blood” (the power of Vision). Other characters include Claudia, a Blue with the power make men lust after her. (<Quagmire>All right!</Quagmire>) Then there’s Winch Fargo, a man driven mad by the light, not that he wasn’t a bad egg beforehand; he’s psychotic and represents Evil. But it is Horace (a.k.a. The Gray Man) that represents Death. Horace was exposed to the light as he died and so is transformed into a – for lack of a better single-word term – zombie. And he’s bent on killing the “Blues”.
With a fast-moving story and terse-but-descriptive writing style, Mosley propels the reader along a suspenseful sequence of events. Some of the gore is a bit graphic, but it’s used for best effect. Apologies in advance to the author and his fans, but Blue Light reads like a Stephen King novel (when King was good, that is). My only complaint with the book was that some of the dialogue and descriptions came across as too mystical at times. Very little is explicitly explained about the origins and purpose of the light. Maybe those explanations are being saved for the rest of the proposed trilogy. (I can’t wait!) Still, in no way does the ambiguous explanation detract from this excellent page-turner.
Blue Light is listed as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1998. This book deserves that accolade and more. Mosley is famous for his “Easy Rawlins” series of mystery novels. I’ll be adding those titles to my list of books to buy. This is a well-done novel.
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