Book Reviews

Review: City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

You know how much of a fan I am of YA SF. It’s one of my favorite combos ever and so I was so excited for this debut. City of Shattered Light is almost non-stop action in a fantastically immersive world. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

City of Shattered Light begins with action and basically never stops. If you have been looking for a YA SF which delivers gun fights, heists, and more, then this is for you. Not to mention that sister stories will always get me – even if for the most part one of the sisters is, um, occupied. While I was certainly swept away in the action, I feel like it was harder for me to get emotionally connected to the characters. There’s not a lot of time for internal introspection – look there’s a lot of running – and I wish I had felt the danger more in the pit of my stomach.

You know that need to keep reading because you aren’t sure if your favorite will make it out? That feeling. That being said, City of Shattered Light was still incredibly entertaining to read. Especially because Winn is so good at creating this realistic and eerily scary, kinda, world. This world where the (mis)use of technology is chilling. Where Asa has to go against this mindset of technology and advancement at all cost. At the same time, I enjoyed the crew dynamic – even if I wanted to get to know the cast members more.


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Overall, City of Shattered Light has a wonderful balance between action and world building. There’s gun fights and sabotage with a heavy dose of breaking and entering. You can really get a sense of the thrill and adventure. While I wish there was a bit more space devoted to the characters, I think this a solid SF debut which delivers plenty of fun and betrayal. Find City of Shattered Light on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite action packed SF?

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