Review: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Woah, y’all. I finally finished a book!! It’s been like an entire month and I still have no reading motivation but I did it!! Also my last class of the semester ends in just a few days so fingers crossed I’ll get some reading motivation back once I have a month where I don’t have homework deadlines looming in the background!

So, what book did I read? Well if you didn’t pay attention to the title of this post it was The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling.

The Luminous Dead

Here’s the synopsis:

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Caves are one of my biggest fears, the darkness and sickening sense of claustrophobia that come with them send chills down my spine with just a thought. My mom and aunt can’t go a family gathering without talking about the time I said I’d be fine going past the point of no return in a cave tour and then ended up having a breakdown. (Sidenote: I was like 7 at the time and I got my sweatshirt hood caught on a railing so I thought someone was grabbing me, like YOU go through a spooky cave and think someone is grabbing you and come out of the experience unscathed!!!!) So anyways, when I saw this book I knew that if I wanted a horror book that could genuinely terrify me, well this is it.

The writing in this was so good, there was more than one scene in which I was left with goosebumps and the hairs on the back of my neck standing up because I was so spooked. This definitely played into my own fears and I found myself questioning every single thing I read which, to me, adds so much to the horror aspect. I think that if I would have had the attention span to read this in one sitting, I would have, but it ended up taking me about a month and a half to finish this which made it a little bit jarring each time I picked it up again. Despite the gaps between reading, once I did get back into reading it was easy to immerse myself back in the story. I feel like horror is one genre where if I can’t be fully immersed then I’m not going to fully enjoy it so I am happy to report that this is quite an immersive story.

With a cast of two characters I was really interested to see how this would play out and the way the relationship between Gyre and Em would develop from the beginning to the end. My emotions were all over the place and I’m not going to lie when I say that I would greatly enjoy some further addition to this story. There was definitely a conclusion but I feel like there is so much of this world left to explore that I would be down for any sort of epilogue that the author would like to give us. This aspect of the story, with Gyre and Em, was so complex and frustrating and yet I could see so fully the motivations of each character and I loved that. Each was so fully developed and the balance between heartbreaking, tender moments and sheer terror and stress and anger was so well done.

I feel like this book would appeal to those who aren’t normally fans of horror too. It’s thrilling and shocking and left me feeling like I should check over my own shoulder but for horror, I felt it was pretty tame. There isn’t anything overly gory and I feel like it’s more of a psychological horror that just burns nice and slowly until it gets you right at the end.

In the end, I rated it 4 stars because there were parts of this that left me feeling a bit dry. I highly recommend picking this up and I look forward to reading whatever Caitlin Starling comes up with next!

You can pick up your own copy of The Luminous Dead at these links:

Amazon (Affiliate Link) // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Halloween Song Book Tag

Y’all, I am struggling to get through anything, my concentration is absolutely shot. I have so many books piling up and homework and AHHHH it’s bad. I just want to hibernate and stop doing anything and everything and it’s taking everything in me to not drop off the face of the earth for months.

So because I still have absolutely nothing to review and all the posts that I wanted to write are definitely not getting written, I have decided to do a book tag. I saw this on Heather‘s (Bookables) Youtube channel and the original tag can be found here (it was done by a beautiful chaos of books). She also made a playlist of all the songs from the tag which I thought was awesome! Here’s that link.

My goal with this is to try and keep everything within the thriller/horror (maybe also fantasy, yeah no definitely also some fantasy) genre if I can manage it!

Thriller

A book that was an absolute page turner

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish reading this book. Couldn’t stop reading it once I started!!

Somebody’s Watching Me

A book that gave you serious creeps

The Possession of Cassie Quinn by Kathryn Knutson

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The first time I ever read this book I was so creeped out. Possession is a no go for me. One of my biggest fears to be quite honest. I’m rereading this book this weekend to see if it still creeps me out as much as it did back in the day.

Vampire

A book you hated so much it was soul sucking (i.e. incredibly tedious to get through)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

I know that everyone thought this was amazing and that I am definitely in the minority but I remember dragging myself through this book. It was not shocking or thrilling in the slightest.

And The Girl on the Train… And The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Y’all I need more thriller recommendations that aren’t boring as hell.

I Put A Spell On You

A book featuring witchcraft or magic

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

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Definitely not a spooky one, but I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It’s the perfect witchy fall read!

This Halloween

Your favorite treat/snack to eat while reading

Right now it’s cheez-its. Also coffee or tea is always great.

MorningReading-AWASOE

Time Warp

What book or books do you like to return to at this time of year?

For many, many years I would reread Harry Potter yearly starting right around the start of the school year. I like to reread series in the winter, not sure why but maybe it’s because I wouldn’t buy books over the summer and then would get books for my birthday and holidays and I used to read a LOT of series so that’s when I’d get that series flow going.

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Hungry Like The Wolf

A book you loved so much, you devoured

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin

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I got an ARC from Netgalley for this book and read it in one day (almost in one sitting). It was absolutely amazing. Dark, devious, and engrossing and you guys should preorder it because it comes out in February and you all need to read it.

The Adams Family

A book featuring a dysfunctional family

Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn

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I just hope their dysfunction heals at some point. Very sad dysfunctional family.

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

A book genre that you are scared or intimidated to pick up

I want to say that I’m really adventurous in my reading. I’m interested in reading a wide variety of books and I don’t think that I’m scared or intimidated to pick up any one genre. I will say that I struggle the most to read classics and I also tend to steer away from high fantasy or science/historical fiction because a lot of times those are really dense and heavy and take more brain power than I have to give at the time.

The Twilight Zone

A book with a completely different and unique premise

The Skeleton Creek series by Patrick Carman

Skeleton Creek (Skeleton Creek, #1)

I guess it’s not super different? But it’s really unique because you can go to links while you read the books to watch clips of the events in these books! I’m going to talk about these on Monday after I reread them this weekend!

So that’s the Halloween Song Book Tag… It’s brand new so definitely participate if you want to answer these questions!

The Books That Shaped Me: Part 3

I honestly thought that I would only be doing one post for this series but the more that I thought about all the books that have meant so much to me over the years, the more that I realized there were way more than could fit into one post.

Part 1 consisted of the books that I read throughout elementary school. Part 2 was all the books that I read throughout middle school. And now this post, Part 3, is going to showcase all the books that I read throughout high school. There could possibly be a Part 4 someday with books that I read in college (my first attempt at college anyways) but I’ll have to see, I might also lump a few of them into the end of this post because there really weren’t many that I read. Homework kinda got to me and I avoided reading so much!

So high school was when I discovered BookTube and Goodreads. I joined Goodreads in November of 2011 when I was a freshman.

Books by Sarah Dessen

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Her books are some of my favorite YA contemporary books and whenever I need something happy to read I pick up one of hers. I haven’t read all of her books yet but I’m working on it. She and Maureen Johnson are two of my absolute favorite authors and I will probably buy every single one of their publications from here on out.

The Top 8 series, which then turned into my love for Morgan Matson starting with Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

I don’t even remember why I got the Top 8 series, I’m sure I had a gift card to Barnes and Noble, looked inside, liked the formatting and then bought all of them. But the Top 8 series were written under Matson’s pen name, Katie Finn. I’m not even sure when I found out that Finn was Matson but I remember being absolutely shocked because I had had books under both of her names for years before ever realizing.

Dystopian Books: Hunger Games, Delirium, Shatter Me, Divergent)

I would honestly be shocked by anyone who was into reading from around 2012-2014

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

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Her books introduced me to graphic novels! And boy did I reread Smile so many times, like I would be genuinely interested to see just how many times I checked it out from the library back then before I owned my own copy of it!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Oh good ole TFIOS. I don’t think I could make a post about books I read in high school without mentioning this gem. This was also the first ever signed book that I owned and I literally shrieked and danced around my kitchen when I saw that that’s what my grandma had managed to purchase.

The Possession of Cassie Quinn by Kathryn Knutson

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My sister bought this book at a local bookstore in the town that my grandparents live near. After she read it, I picked it up and I loved it. I’ve read both this book and her second book and I’m so glad that I liked them because I love having the opportunity to support a Minnesotan author.

It took me a really long time growing up to get into horror things. I mean, I used to be terrified by the show Ghost Hunters and either had to leave the room or put on headphones to block out the noise. I was scarred pretty early on in life by the movie Arachnaphobia and while I’m still terrified by spiders, other horror stuff doesn’t really scare me anymore. I love the spooky stuff.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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This was one of the only classics that I was forced to read in high school that I genuinely enjoyed. The story sticks with me even to today and there are just so many quotes from this that make me feel all the feels.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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And this one is not on here for a good reason. I HATE this book, like it is one classic that I genuinely despise. I usually dislike classics for one reason or another (most of the time being that I have the hardest time reading them) but I actually have a deep seated hatred of Great Expectations. I’m now kind of fuming right now just thinking of it and almost want to write an entire blog post dedicated to my hatred of this book.

Quiet by Susan Cain

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I read this book so that I could write a paper about it in my tenth grade English class. I have absolutely no recollection what that paper was about but

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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One of the first books I’ve ever read where I saw myself. It hurt. It’s still absolutely everything to me.

Anna and the French Kiss/The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight/My Life Next Door

I also started to get really into YA contemporaries when I was in high school. I bought Anna and the French Kiss at a Borders Books store on the way back from New York one summer (does anyone else fondly think of Borders? I might like it too much because I don’t have any access to small book stores and I’ve never been a big fan of Barnes and Noble). I even saved the sticker from AatFS because I wanted to preserve the last Borders purchase I ever made.

Anyways, I very quickly fell in love with the contemporaries that I read. The idea of having an open ended happy ending just made my heart happy. I devoured happy endings as much as I could, breaking my own single little heart time and time again. I pretended that they taught me a lot about what I wanted in relationships and in guys.

So overall, my reading in high school was full of contemporaries, classics (forced reading), and dystopian. I definitely started to hone in on my favorites and began to read a bit more critically than I had in the past.

Now that I’ve written about a lot of the books that have shaped my reading and myself over the entire course of my life, I’ve started to think about a new series of posts. I would really like to start rereading some of the books featured on these posts and discuss them now. Why I loved them when I first read them, why I still love them today (or not love them depending), and if they still hold up today. I’ll preface it all by saying that I almost always fail with my post series though so we shall see how far this idea takes me.

What were some of your favorite books in your teenage years?