In 1995, at the age of eight, Una Waters survived a terrifying encounter at 30,000 feet aboard Flight 564 from Dallas to Las Vegas. It changed her forever. After 21 years, and a decade away from the Hopi Reservation where she grew up as a child, a surprise plea for help brings Una back, to solve a mystery that threatens their traditional way of life. The U.S. Army’s sudden interest regarding a cave discovery in the Sacred Peaks has triggered alarm, leading to violence. With the help of friends, new and old, Una must confront her painful past, seek proof to qualify the ancient site for protection under law, and stand up to a stiff-necked general, whose agenda is more concerned with retrieving a mysterious power source.
The concept for A Gleam of Light is right up my alley. I love novels that are based on either a true story or in historical fact and then ask, “What if?” And that’s exactly what the Wolfs have done here, combining the real history of the Hopi people with the possibility of aliens. To be clear, my understanding of Hopi history and mythology is limited to what I very briefly explored after reading this book. But even without having a lot of knowledge in the subject, it was clear the Wolfs thoroughly researched the topic, which I appreciated.
“You have to believe in gods to see them.” -Hopi proverb
The overall story arc for A Gleam of Light makes this work fairly well as a standalone as well as sets up possibilities for the second book in this trilogy, reminding me of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books or J.F. Penn’s ARKANE series. There were also some nice references to pop culture and other similar types of stories to put you in the right frame of mind. That all being said, I did have some issues with this book.
My biggest problem is the lack of tension. Everything was just too easy. Whenever Una came across a roadblock, it was like, “Oh, you need to go here? I’ll just move for you!” This seems to stem from a lack of character development. Characters other than Una needed more of a backstory and more of their own desires driving their actions. I am hoping more of this foundation will be laid in the second book, otherwise I fear this series will lose its momentum rather than gaining it.
My second biggest issue is in the way fact and fiction were combined. Or, more precisely, how they weren’t combined. There were many sections with a lot of description followed by long monologues. These could have been integrated better for a smoother flow. For example, there is no reason to have people walking in silence for hours, and then stop and talk in full paragraphs, and in some cases, multiple paragraphs. This would have helped the book to read more like a story and less like a textbook.
Despite my issues, I don’t think the writing here was bad; but it could have used a read through out loud and an additional rewrite to work out the kinks. I am quite curious to see how the Wolfs continue to develop this story in the second book of The Survival Trilogy.
*Thanks to the authors for providing an arc of this edition in exchange for an honest review.