The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

One sentence review: “What happens when you make a bad decision, and stick with it no matter what.” 

lightfirefliescoverPages: 338 Genre: Fiction / Mystery  / Psychological / Coming of Age
Rating: 3 of 5 Sun Spots
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.03 of 5 stars
Form Read: kindle ebook   Purchased: Kindle First of March (free)

Amazon synopsis: A haunting and hopeful tale of discovering light in even the darkest of places. For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns.

He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away.

A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out…


This wasn’t a book I’d normally pick up, but because it was free and had such positive ratings on Goodreads, I decided to give it a try. It’s fast paced mostly because you can’t wait to find out what would be bad enough to drive an entire family to living underground. Did the rage virus finally break free? Did WW3 destroy civilization? Unfortunately it’s nothing so world shattering that drove these people into a Morlock like existence.

The story unfolds through the eyes of a 10 year old boy, who has lived his entire life underground. He’s fascinated by the small spot of light that streams into their “home” at specific times of the day. This perspective allowed us, as adult readers, to know things he doesn’t yet understand but it also provides frustration as we keep circling back to the same topics over and over.

Everything wraps up in a tidy completely unbelievable bow in the end, which was also very frustrating because the reality of their situation and you know, having social security information and other needed documents that aren’t provided when you’re born in a windowless basement, completely sours the book for me.

Find the book: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble