Hello readers! Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Fall 2022 YA Blog Tour for If You Could See The Sun by Ann Liang! Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and the author for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Title: If You Could See The Sun
Author: Ann Liang
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy
Published: October 11th, 2022 (Inkyard Press)
Synopsis: Alice Sun has always felt invisible at her elite Beijing international boarding school, where she’s the only scholarship student among China’s most rich and influential teens. But then she starts uncontrollably turning invisible – actually invisible.
When her parents drop the news that they can no longer afford her tuition, even with the scholarship, Alice hatches a plan to monetize her strange new power – she’ll discover the scandalous secrets her classmates want to know, for a price.
But as the tasks escalate from petty scandals to actual crimes, Alice must decide if it’s worth losing her conscience – or even her life.
Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing, Inkyard Press and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Alice Sun is a scholarship student at an elite international boarding school in Beijing and despite being one of the top students, has always felt overlooked amongst the wealthy students. One day, she suddenly starts turning invisible, and uncontrollably at that. When her parents tell her they can no longer afford the fees for her private school, Alice sees an opportunity to use her new power to earn some extra money and pay her tuition. It starts off with little things at first, school gossip and scandals that she uncovers anonymously but when the requests on the anonymous app she has set up take a step up to unethical jobs and outright crimes, Alice must decide if this scheme is worth it.
YA contemporary is not a genre I typically pick up, but the synopsis hinted at a rather interesting mix of genres in this one which is why I decided to read it even though magical realism hasn’t worked very well for me in the past. I liked how the main plot started right from page one without too much dallying and the base of the story was neatly established within the first couple of chapters, while introducing the main character and her situation making it clear how high the stakes are for her. This was a fast paced and easy read and I finished it in a single sitting.
Alice was a great protagonist, smart and likeable, and she was very easy to root for and relate to. Alice’s new power of invisibility is not just a superpower but also a metaphor for how she feels, unseen by many of the rich and privileged students at her fancy private school who have no idea how people like her live and struggle in poverty. What I liked best about this book however, was the number of themes and strong messages like classism, poverty and racism that the author managed to integrate into it without losing the relatively lighthearted tone of the story. The romance subplot was kind of an undertone to the story, but unlike other books where this is the case, this actually made the story more likeable and I enjoyed it a lot more because of it.
It would have been nice to find out where Alice’s power came from but to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting that to be delved into. Either way, that aspect was left on a very vague note which made the book feel kind of incomplete. It was barely brought up in the last couple of chapters and there was no information on what happens, if she lost the ability, or learned to control it for example. Once Alice’s actions, to some extent anyway, are revealed, there was a startling lack of consequences for everything she did which didn’t really sit right after everything she did. I also found the mood of the book to be a little disappointing – from the looks of the premise I expected it to be more thrilling.
For a debut novel, this was quite good, if not as deep as I expected it to be given the themes and I liked the writing style as well. Overall, this was a fun read and I would definitely recommend it!
If You Could See The Sun releases October 11th, 2022.
About the Author
Ann Liang is an undergraduate at the University of Melbourne. Born in Beijing, she grew up travelling back and forth between China and Australia, but somehow ended up with an American accent. When she isn’t stressing out over her college assignments or writing, she can be found making over-ambitious to-do lists, binge-watching dramas, and having profound conversations with her pet labradoodle about who’s a good dog. This is her debut novel.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!