Five words from the blurb: pain, manifesting, light, human, phenomenon
The Illumination has a fantastically original premise: What would happen if we could see pain? Would our interactions with other people change if we could see exactly how painful our colleague’s toothache was, spot tumors inside strangers on the street, or see the continual suffering of the elderly?
The book is set in the present day, but the world has been changed by the arrival of a new phenomenon in which all pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, manifests itself as light.
This simple change alters many aspects of life and I found myself thinking about the way our society tends to hide its suffering, particularly the emotional kind. It made me wish that we could see the pain of others, and be able to offer support and help to those who need it.
My only problem with this book was that it didn’t contain a compelling plot. It was more like a series of short stories, moving from one character the next in a random, unpredictable fashion. It was impossible to know whether the character you’d just been introduced to would appear again, or would go on to play a more dominant role in the next chapter. Questions were left unanswered and wonderful plot snippets were left dangling without any conclusion. This fractured style frustrated me on one level, but on another it allowed me to think clearly about attitudes to pain without being distracted by character and plot.
The writing quality was excellent and I’m sure I’ll remember scenes from this book for a long time to come. It is a wonderfully unique novel. Recommended.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
… a beautifully rendered and deeply touching meditation on pain. The Book Lady’s Blog
…it was uneven and there were times when I just wanted to put the book down and walk away. Amy’s Book Obsession
It is one of those novels with a simple concept like Saramago’s Blindness where a universal change to human experience suddenly appears and alters perception. Just William’s Luck