At the beginning of 2019, bestselling author Tosca Lee released The Line Between. This seemingly stand-alone novel offered a wide variety of readers a fast-paced, intriguing, and all-too-realistic dystopian story about a virus with no known cure that causes anyone infected to go mad. Now, as the end of 2019 is slowly coming into view, Lee has surprised her readers with a sequel to The Line Between, completing a dystopian duology as A Single Light becomes available to the public on September 17.
Six months have passed since Wynter Roth was free from the brainwashing doomsday cult known as New Earth. Six months after traveling from Chicago to Colorado to deliver a possible vaccine to a lab to cure the disease that is killing thousands of people, Wynter awaits the day she and her remaining family and friends are freed from the underground safety bunker along with a group of sixty other people. While the disease cannot reach anyone within the bunker, it does not stop a share of problems from arising. People begin to go crazy from staying trapped in one place for too long, food and water are dwindling, Wynter’s very good friend Julie becomes gravely ill, and they have lost all communication with their host, Noah, who has not sent any new video feedback from topside for months.
When the day finally arrives for the locked bunker door to open, Wynter ventures up to find medicine for Julie before it is too late. Expecting to find a world on the verge of healing due to the new vaccine she helped deliver months earlier, Wynter and the others are stunned to find a world they no longer recognize: a world empty of life and the few remaining teetering on the cusp of losing their sanity even without the disease. With the help and protection of Chase, Wynter must cling to the last remaining hope she has left and discovers that Julie is not the only one she needs to save, but also whoever is left alive to save from the deadly virus. But how can she save a world that seems beyond saving? Even if she could help the survivors, could the damage already done be reversed? There is a single light of hope on the horizon and it is fading fast… can Wynter hang onto it before darkness consumes it?
Oh, my goodness, what a sequel Lee has created in A Single Light! So much is given within these pages it is truly incredible and readers are in for quite the journey as they continue following Wynter through a dying world. Any element that may have been missing in The Line Between was focused upon in this sequel in incredible depth. Lee’s normally fast-paced storytelling has been slowed down considerably for this story which truly conveys the state of the world and allows readers to feel the mixture of emotions the characters feel. Her attention to detail is incredibly strong and has allowed her to craft a very realistic fictional story, focusing on elements of a dystopian novel many authors normally skip over or have not truly focused on before. And as also found in its predecessor, Lee has ensured, once again, to include valuable life lessons within A Single Light. All of these elements come together to make one beautifully written and excellently well-crafted finale in her unexpected duology.
Lee begins A Single Light shortly after where The Line Between ends. She gives a quick, yet detailed recap to her readers as to what has happened up until that point, giving a quick background look on the virus, how Wynter came to be at the safety bunker, and those she knows who are still alive and safe. While readers should witness the characters for themselves in the sequel, Lee is to be commended on her character development. She introduces many new characters, especially the many in the bunker with Wynter towards the beginning of the book, yet readers will never be confused on who is who. The returning characters from the first book are developed even further in this book and all development is portrayed rather realistically, especially for what appears to be “the end of the world.” Wynter’s character is truly amazing in her development and readers will find themselves feeling what she feels and imagining themselves in her shoes and enduring every hardship she does as if they were there with her.
As aforementioned, A Single Light is not as fast-paced as The Line Between. While it does have some moments, it has slowed down considerably to focus on certain details one can imagine Lee would want them to focus on. One such thing would be the fact that ever since the first person was infected with the virus up until the sequel, only ten months have passed… When readers read through this, it is rather terrifying to believe the world to fall apart so quickly, yet also terrifyingly accurate for it can only take a moment for things to fall apart. Another element focused upon is what this virus does to people, whether they are infected or not. Those who are infected show cases of dementia and go crazy until their ultimate death. Others who are not infected are going crazy from fear or anger or other emotions caused by the quick spreading virus. Lee really gives readers a deeper look into the realization that for people, even people of today, who go crazy, some can control it while others physically cannot due to medical complications.
One more excellent focus is the fact of forming a relationship during end times. These sorts of relationships are most likely one of the main reasons why readers love dystopian novels so much: when two people find each other in the chaos and fall in love even while the world is falling apart around them. While this can be romantic, Lee brings up a very good point: once the crisis is over, what could happen to a relationship formed during crisis? It is a very real element to think about. Sure, you could find someone you really care about during a tragic time, but once the tragedy is past, will that person stay? Were they only in your life for that time to aid you?
While these elements are more on the morbid side, Lee also holds true to the title of her novel and focuses on hope, as well. In The Line Between, some very valuable life lessons were added for readers to take away upon completion. More life lessons can be found in this sequel and while some may seem cliché, Lee writes them in a way that will truly make the readers think. One of the lessons that is brought up more times than others is not realizing what one has until it is gone. True, we all hear this phrase and never truly grasp it until it is too late. When we don’t grasp this when we hear it, it seems we have more regrets when the time of loss does arrive. Everyone is encouraged to love their families, friends, pets, anyone they hold dear and do everything they can with them while they are still here. One never knows what could happen in a moment.
This actually goes hand in hand with another lesson: never take a single breath for granted. Along with this is actually a rather clever lesson that is especially geared towards the people of today. With technology pretty much being gone, the characters are forced to use things they originally took for granted, such as a phone book (Lee 223). If you “people watch” today, you will notice about 90 percent of the population of the area you are currently in is looking down at their cell phones or at some form of technology. How often do you see people truly conversing with one another nowadays? Or reading a physical book? Or writing using a pencil and paper? Or playing a game of Tic-Tac-Toe with a friend? Or sitting at a table in a restaurant talking to one another with NO phones on the table? Perhaps Lee is telling readers to not take little things for granted either… Perhaps the best lesson Lee focuses on is that there is beauty in the world and it is worth protecting. Wynter sees this even when the world seems to be falling apart. “There is beauty in the world still. Even now. And it’s worth saving for that reason alone” (Lee 165).
Readers are in for a treat as they discover a seemingly stand-alone novel by the talented Lee has received a sequel. In all honesty, A Single Light is even better than The Line Between, completing an incredible duology with a finale that is both heart-wrenching and beautiful. The slower pace Lee takes readers on in this story allows them to truly get a feel for what the world is like during this terrible epidemic. The development of new and returning characters is very well done and her strong attention to detail gives readers a chance to catch onto elements not normally focused on in dystopian novels as well as some valuable life lessons we as humans normally take for granted. Readers shouldn’t miss out and should experience A Single Light for themselves on September 17.