Refraction has been on my TBR ever since I heard of it. Having read Afterimage, Hughes’ debut, I am such a big fan! If you love books that almost feel like a mirage, that are hard to pin down, then check out Refraction!
After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade―until he’s caught by the mayor’s son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many abandoned cities overrun by fog. But they soon realize their thoughts influence their surroundings and their deepest fears begin to manifest.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I loved the idea of mirrors as soon as I read it in Refraction. The idea that a surface designed to show you a reflection, an image of the world, is actually used as a vehicle for mystical and dangerous beings? Count me in. While I was totally geeking out about the almost science fiction/fantasy elements within Refraction, the characters are what kept me reading. Marty, a teen with OCD, is part of the illegal mirror trade and to me, his character was so fascinating.
Because when mirrors are weapons, you ask yourself, why does Marty keep trading in mirrors? But he’s actually a complex character who is, in some ways, motivated by hope. Contrasting the other character, the son of the mayor, they believe that they are both on the right side. One who is convinced the mayor is brainwashing us all into obedience, another who believes that the mirror trade kills. At its heart, Refraction is a story of consequences and trade offs. What can we afford to lose and for what can we sacrifice?
Marty was a hard sell at the beginning, but his character development ended being what really kept me reading. When no one is going to watch out for you, you’ll do whatever you need to survive, to hold onto whatever hope we can find. Both of the main characters are brothers, which is a special relationship of guilt, responsibility, and loss. But can Marty change and start caring about more than just himself? In a world where everything has the potential to kill you, how do they stay safe against their own fears?
Refraction is a story about banding together and confronting our fears. In the final moments, will we surpass what we thought we were? You know how when people are faced with the end of the world it can either devolve into a sort of everyone for themselves chaos, or humanity can overcome their individual goals and work together? Refraction takes place at the crux of this conflict. Our values of saving each other, or ourselves, of trusting in other people who are just as flawed as we are.