Review of “The Splintered Light” by Ginger Johnson

By Grace Heine

*DISCLAIMER – I was not asked by Ginger Johnson, or Bloomsbury Publishing to write a review for this book. I received a copy of The Splintered Light. for free while participating in my library’s summer reading program. All views expressed are mine (and I tried really hard not to give away spoilers).*

Title: The Splintered Light
Written by: Ginger Johnson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Paperback: 416 pages

*This review has no quote because I can’t legally take one from my advanced-reading-copy of The Splintered Light.*

Ishmael’s world was grey, tedious, and dull until he saw his first color. A color – a light that was different from anything he’d ever known. Soon after, Ishmael goes off in search of his missing brother and finds him in a world full of strange and beautiful things. In The Commons, Ishmael discovers that he, like his brother, has a gift for seeing color and is therefore meant to become a Color Keeper. Ishmael wants to stay in this new vividly colorful world but he also can’t bring himself to abandon the family he left behind. After an accident releases almost all of the stored color and light, Ishmael realizes he must stay on at the Hall of Hue for a little while longer to help restore what was lost. But now, even his brother is against him and Ishmael finds he must chose between the family he left, the brother he found, or the colors he loves.

I was tricked into reading this book.

On the book’s back cover it states that The Splintered Light is “Reminiscent of The Giver” and I love The Giver.

Spoiler Warning: The Splintered Light is nothing like The Giver.

The only similarity is that the main character Ishmael can see (and move and make) color while the rest of humanity (except for the novices living in the Hall of Hue) can only see black, white, and grey.

Oh yeah, and Ishmael’s world has no music, or war, or good tasting food, or anything remotely creative, and we had a random section talking about the power of memories.

The book opens with Ishmael seeing color for the first time, then BOOM we find out his backstory (told in dialogue form *insert groaning here*), then BOOM Ishmael goes off to find his brother, then BOOM Ishmael finds his brother, then …

Yeah, then nothing happens for the next couple hundred pages.

Then BOOM a girl does something extremely stupid which jeopardizes a new uncolored world.

Then nothing.

No one is mad at her, no one stops to think about why she did what she did, and when the truth (the very obvious truth) does come out, Ishmael is (somehow) blown away by the revelation.

The book ends with a lot of colors being thrown at people, and then a very strange farewell ceremony.

I strongly disliked this book.


Let me tell you:

  1. The characters are idiots

Seriously, everyone here is an idiot. A character misses out on the major event of his life (which, by the way, he knew was going to happen) because he doesn’t have his tool bag.

No one (and I do mean: no one) is even remotely curious as to why a girl did something she should have known was a bad idea.

And don’t give me: she couldn’t have known because she was from the Hall of Sound.

She should have known.

  1. Characters do as they’re told.

The characters rarely did anything that matched their personality.

Ishmael doesn’t normally go on midnight walks – yet one night he does. And when he does he just happens to find his way to the Cairns (prophetic rocks) and Michel (who just happens to have a plan to help Ishmael) just happens to be there.

Everything that happened in this book happened because the author needed it to.

  1. I still understand nothing.

What exactly are Ishmael’s powers? Magic? How does it work? Why do people only have one heightened sense? Why can’t everyone see color? What happened to color? Why do we need posticum? Where does the posticum go when it’s sealed? Why are the Hall of Hue novices the only ones with magical-like abilities?

I mean, novices can flick color from their wrists.

So, they’re basically Spiderman with paint splatter.

  1. We had the obligatory “challenge.”

Oh look, a challenge for our main character to win.

Oh look, a special Jubilee challenge for our main character to win.

Oh my word, our main character won.

Surprise, surprise. (Yes, I’m channeling my inner Gomer Pile)

  1. The main character had beyond the norm super powers.

It’s never explained why Ishmael has “coloring” powers beyond that of Hue novices who’d spent years training – and if it had been explained I wouldn’t be complaining about it.

  1. Several chapters were written from The Rocks point of view.

Yes, rocks.

  1. The ending/climax was terrible.

I can’t say more without completely spoiling the book but the ending didn’t, and doesn’t sit right with me.

To me it feels like the main character made the wrong moral choice.

The climax was just weird.

And confusing.

So, to sum up:

The Splintered Light is a fantasy boarding school for idiots with heightened senses.

In the book’s defense, it was written for middle grade readers (of which I am not).

Also, I just finished listening to Inkheart by fabulous author Cornelia Funke, and I am currently listening to A Wizard of Earthsea (the equally fabulous author) Ursula K. Lee Guin.

The Splintered Light had some pretty epic books to compete against.

I will say that the writing style of this book was beautiful. With each of the seven “senses” the author dove completely into what someone with that heightened sense would observe. I could feel in every part of my body the thing or things the author was describing and that is a rare talent.

I recommend this book for middle grade readers who like fantasy novels and don’t mind blatant and glaring plot/character problems.

For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE

Age Range: 7 – 11


Violence: Ishmael mentions being whipped. A man dies when the well he is digging collapses on him. A boy is splashed with color.

Sensuality: Head Color Master mentions people having children.

Profanity: None

Other: People use rocks to tell them what to do. Mam yells at Ishmael. People lie. Vandalism. War is mentioned.

Personal Rating: 0 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Grace Heine is a sixteen-year-old wanna be writer who spends most of her time reading, writing, playing piano, or finding clever ways to be unproductive. You can visit her book review blog here.

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