Refraction

Refraction

After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade―until he’s caught by the mayor's son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many...

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Title:Refraction
Author:Naomi Hughes
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Refraction Reviews

  • Paige Dan

    This is the book that made me realize I can no longer say ‘I don’t really like science fiction.’ Wholly original, it’s a real window into the horrifying world of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Join black market mirror dealer Marty on his quest to find his brother after the fog arrives on earth, spawning Beings that shred humans in moments.

    Monsters that spawn out of mirrors, fear that turns us all into the true monsters, and finding goodness where we least expect it. Oh, and aliens. To say I’m a

    This is the book that made me realize I can no longer say ‘I don’t really like science fiction.’ Wholly original, it’s a real window into the horrifying world of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Join black market mirror dealer Marty on his quest to find his brother after the fog arrives on earth, spawning Beings that shred humans in moments.

    Monsters that spawn out of mirrors, fear that turns us all into the true monsters, and finding goodness where we least expect it. Oh, and aliens. To say I’m a fan is an understatement.

  • Naomi Hughes

    Hey! I'm Naomi Hughes, author of Refraction. I wanted to use this space to add a bit of detail that I wasn't able to put in the book itself.

    First, yes, this book is ownvoices for OCD. In part because of that, writing this story was one of the most intense journeys of my life, and also possibly the most rewarding. I hope it's as meaningful to you as it was to me!

    Second, I wanted to include a note on some potential triggers that are present in the story. Although some of these are general (like

    Hey! I'm Naomi Hughes, author of Refraction. I wanted to use this space to add a bit of detail that I wasn't able to put in the book itself.

    First, yes, this book is ownvoices for OCD. In part because of that, writing this story was one of the most intense journeys of my life, and also possibly the most rewarding. I hope it's as meaningful to you as it was to me!

    Second, I wanted to include a note on some potential triggers that are present in the story. Although some of these are general (like descriptions of dead bodies and people being killed), others are a bit more specific and also more likely to specifically trigger anxiety in people who have certain types of OCD. Some of the trigger warnings also relate to spoilers; I'll hide those with the spoiler tag so you can choose whether you want to see them or not.

    I'll make this list as comprehensive as I can, but there's always the possibility that I'll miss things either through oversight or my own ignorance of things that might cause anxiety in others but not me, so please read with care if you tend to get triggered while reading this type of book!

    Trigger warnings:

    -Characters are attacked by shadowy monsters of all types that crawl out of mirrors in a highly creepy fashion

    -Death of a minor character by

    -Description of both recently-dead and long-dead bodies

    -Teens being intentionally placed in danger or directly harmed by parents

    -Characters being held at gunpoint/sustaining gunshot injuries

    -

    -

    OCD-specific notes and trigger warnings:

    -Marty has safety-related obsessive concerns, and performs checking compulsions (tapping door frames, re-checking locks, putting keys in specific pockets) along with some limited counting compulsions throughout the book.

    -If you have intrusive thought OCD or existential OCD, there are elements of the plot--such as

    --that may trigger anxiety.

    -If you have scrupulosity or responsibility OCD, it may bother you that Marty (who has neither of those types of OCD) intentionally threatens other characters and/or puts them in danger throughout much of the book in order to further his own goals.

    -Throughout much of the story, Marty is very hard on himself, demanding perfection in his recovery and dreading the return of his compulsions and obsessive thinking. This might be hard to read for people who struggle with similar issues themselves. A note on the tone of the ending as it pertains to this:

    That's it! Thank you for reading Refraction, and feel free to ask me questions about it (or about my other books!) over in the "ask the author" section of my author page. If you enjoy this story, you might also like this other book I wrote, a standalone YA sci-fi called

    that involves panic disorder, wibbly-wobbly timey-wimeyness, and a girl determined to do whatever she must to prove her mother's innocence after a massive explosion wipes out an army base.

    Best,

    Naomi

  • Katya de Becerra

    On an isolated island shrouded in malevolent fog, your worst fears crawl out of mirrors. Nowhere is safe. The entire world is not safe...

    is a first contact story like no other, and it packs a punch! Seen and experienced through the eyes of the narrator with OCD, the horrors of this intricately woven world become particularly tangible. With tension escalating and shocking revelations coming on every page,

    is an edge-of-your-seat tale of unlikely allies

    On an isolated island shrouded in malevolent fog, your worst fears crawl out of mirrors. Nowhere is safe. The entire world is not safe...

    is a first contact story like no other, and it packs a punch! Seen and experienced through the eyes of the narrator with OCD, the horrors of this intricately woven world become particularly tangible. With tension escalating and shocking revelations coming on every page,

    is an edge-of-your-seat tale of unlikely allies forced to work together in order to survive a nightmare, but at what cost?

    Highly recommended for the fans of psychological Science Fiction exploring the concepts of sentience, alien communication and survival.

    I was incredibly lucky to receive an ARC of Refraction directly from the author (thanks, Naomi!). I love SF, and first contact stories are my particular “catnip”, especially those rendered in unusual, new ways. So naturally, I had high expectation. And OMG, this book not only exceeded those expectations—it completely blew them out of the water! This book destroyed me in the best possible way! It made me THINK! It asked all the right questions and then answered them in a way I totally didn’t see coming! Please, PLEASE read this amazing book!

  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    3.5*

    I know that this doesn't come out until next month, and I usually am hesitant to review stuff that far out. But when I started reading it and found that it involves mental health in a non-contemporary setting, well. I knew it had to be done! Because not only is the main character's OCD a part of the story, it's a fairly significant part. And it's like...

    , you know? Because you

    3.5*

    I know that this doesn't come out until next month, and I usually am hesitant to review stuff that far out. But when I started reading it and found that it involves mental health in a non-contemporary setting, well. I knew it had to be done! Because not only is the main character's OCD a part of the story, it's a fairly significant part. And it's like... 

    , you know? Because you better believe that my anxious, depressed ass is trying to figure out what exactly I'd do during the apocalypse. Med withdrawals, no support/therapy/self-care, and the stressors would be off the 

    . And thank goodness, Naomi Hughes has written this very thing!

    Now look, it's going to be 

    to review this without giving anything away, so if you think I'm being vague... it's cause I am. At first, I found that I needed to suspend quite a bit of disbelief. But I promise that if you can do so in the beginning, it ends up working itself into making sense. There, that's as least-spoilery as I can make that while still making you understand that it's okay if it seems a little bananas at times.

    Anyway, Marty just wants to find his brother, who he thinks might be in London. Clearly, these two are close, and that's pretty awesome. Brother books are so rare, and this book features 

    pairs of them! Marty ends up in exile with his nemesis, after which I can tell you almost nothing, but let's just say they have an interesting and intense journey.

    Throughout the book, Marty has to battle his OCD. Before the attack, Marty had made a lot of progress in therapy and was starting to be able to manage his condition. But now, when the world is in shambles, Marty isn't having as much success. The thing I love so much about the mental health rep in this book is that the author has made Marty's situation so relatable, even if aliens haven't attacked us. Marty's OCD is inopportune, illogical, and creeps up on him just when he thinks he has gotten a grip on it. That is 

    many of us, just in (usually) slightly less dire circumstances. Marty has to continue to battle his OCD and challenge himself every day, just as he did when Earth was in one piece.

    Despite some initial suspension of disbelief, this was enjoyable! Fast-paced, filled with a lot of relatable moments and relationships, it's a great representation of mental health, with some aliens thrown in for good measure.

  • USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

    Refraction has been on my TBR ever since I heard of it. Having read Afterimage, Hughes' debut, I am such a big fan! If you love books that almost feel like a mirage, that are hard to pin down, then check out Refraction! I loved the idea of mirrors as soon as I read it in Refraction. The idea that a surface designed to show you a reflection, an image of the world, is actually used

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

    Refraction has been on my TBR ever since I heard of it. Having read Afterimage, Hughes' debut, I am such a big fan! If you love books that almost feel like a mirage, that are hard to pin down, then check out Refraction! I loved the idea of mirrors as soon as I read it in Refraction. The idea that a surface designed to show you a reflection, an image of the world, is actually used as a vehicle for mystical and dangerous beings? Count me in. While I was totally geeking out about the almost science fiction/fantasy elements within Refraction, the characters are what kept me reading. Marty, a teen with OCD, is part of the illegal mirror trade and to me, his character was so fascinating.

    Because when mirrors are weapons, you ask yourself, why does Marty keep trading in mirrors? But he's actually a complex character who is, in some ways, motivated by hope. Contrasting the other character, the son of the mayor, they believe that they are both on the right side. One who is convinced the mayor is brainwashing us all into obedience, another who believes that the mirror trade kills.

    full review:

  • Justine

    See this review and others at

    is Naomi Hughes’ recently published blend of YA Science Fiction and Horror, and is a gripping tale of conquering fear. It’s an account of monsters – both as external physical threats, as well as more personal perils of the mind. At its heart, this is a deeply sentimental story about a crass boy’s unwavering journey to find his brother in a shattered and haunted world, but in the end discovers the goodness that lives in his heart.

    See this review and others at

    is Naomi Hughes’ recently published blend of YA Science Fiction and Horror, and is a gripping tale of conquering fear. It’s an account of monsters – both as external physical threats, as well as more personal perils of the mind. At its heart, this is a deeply sentimental story about a crass boy’s unwavering journey to find his brother in a shattered and haunted world, but in the end discovers the goodness that lives in his heart. Along the way he learns to not only trust in others, but in himself, as well. A beautiful fusion of chilling terror and melancholic hope, the pages of this book flew by far too quickly, and left me craving more.

    We begin our adventure in Cisco City, one of the remaining bastions for humanity after a devastating extraterrestrial attack. In this alternate version of our own world all must be wary of highly reflective surfaces, because a simple glance at your reflection will summon the fog – and all the grotesque Beings made of deadly shadow it houses. The city’s mayor rules with an iron fist, and after a mirror deal gone horribly wrong, we find ourselves exiled into the persistent fog that blankets the majority of the world, where the struggle for survival truly begins. Hughes takes us on a mysterious expedition with a peculiar, ever-changing landscape, filled with a multitude of unexplained occurrences that kept me thoroughly enthralled throughout. Vividly expressed, these familiar and relatable settings are infused with the weird and wondrous where nothing is as it seems, forcing readers to question events every step of the way.

    Expressed using the ribbing voice of Marty Callahan, readers witness first-hand the development and transformation of the two main characters of the story. Marty and Elliot couldn’t be more different – one is a criminal, the other enforces the law; one is selfish, the other is a protector. Their paths cross, and the cruel hands of fate deliver them both to the mainland where Beings reign. Although they’re initially resistant, there is a gradual building of trust and camaraderie, ripe with banter, that takes place as the chapters continue and they continue their way through a desolate Florida. However, secrets continuously threaten to break this tenuous bond that is forming between them. Through these conflicts, we catch glimpses into their pasts, making this a surprisingly emotional narrative. As they evolve, we begin to see them live to their fullest potential, and it’s really a beautiful thing to behold.

    While attention to mental disabilities is not something necessarily new in the world of literature, Hughes brilliantly analyzes the ever-consuming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder through the eyes of a character that suffers its brutal effects. Like many disorders, this is one defined and dominated by fear, and one that allows those monstrous fears to manifest, whose sole purpose is to imprison. The use of reflective surfaces to trigger deadly attacks is the perfect way to illustrate the concept that a person’s worst enemy is the one staring back at them in the mirror. Another beautiful touch is a hurricane battering the city and beyond – I found this to be a perfect metaphor for the ongoing, and increasingly taxing mental battle one must face when tormented by their own mind. And finally, addressing these fears, regardless of the dangers they pose, is the only way to begin healing.

    I wish I could go into more depth about what

    has to offer, but for fear of spoiling, you’ll have to unearth all the stunning and fascinating details for yourself. Completely exceeding my expectations, there’s so much more to this story than I originally anticipated, and I’m thrilled I was able to join Marty and Elliot on their paths to discovery. Replete with nail-biting action, twists and turns, and raw emotion, the revelations are both astonishing and satisfying. If you’re looking for a clever and uniquely executed story of the strength, and importance of family and friendship, this is the one. I highly recommend.

    A huge thank you to

    for providing me with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and also to the

    for inviting me to participate in the

    .

  • Lyn *NomadicWorlds

    In a dystopian world where aliens came and launched an attack on earth using a strange fog and mirrors to set forth horrifying creatures on the population, only a few places survived. Mirrors have now been banned but of course, there are always those who rebel against these laws and bans, such as one 17-year-old Marty Callahan who distributes mirrors illegally, until the day he’s caught by Elliot, the mayor’s son and they are both exiled into the fog, at the mercy of unnatural beasts.

    Marty was a

    In a dystopian world where aliens came and launched an attack on earth using a strange fog and mirrors to set forth horrifying creatures on the population, only a few places survived. Mirrors have now been banned but of course, there are always those who rebel against these laws and bans, such as one 17-year-old Marty Callahan who distributes mirrors illegally, until the day he’s caught by Elliot, the mayor’s son and they are both exiled into the fog, at the mercy of unnatural beasts.

    Marty was a scoundrel—selfish, unrepentant and he did whatever it took to get what he wanted, no matter who he hurt. He also had OCD. For all those who live with OCD, you know how your mind can be a hellish place, an inescapable prison chaining you with your deepest fears. In spite of those constraints, Marty kept his illegal business going without being caught.

    Until Elliot, who was the complete opposite of Marty. Elliot saved people, he tried to do what was right—tried to earn his mother’s approval which wasn’t forthcoming. They were forced to work together in order to survive and along the way, shocking truths came to light.

    I have to admit I liked Elliot better but I also admire Marty at the same time for trying so hard to fight his OCD. I understood him and I could relate with his struggle. Both Elliot and Marty were strong personalities and the author did a great job showing their character growth.

    Let’s talk plot. The plot was excellent with an intriguing storyline wrapped up in secrets and superb twists that kept me turning page after page. The scenes were fast-paced and dynamic. The author’s writing style was pretty good and I had no trouble envisioning the scenes in my head.

    I enjoyed this book way more than I’d expected. Refraction was a solid, good story with a clever plot-line that kept you guessing and wanting more.

  • Olivia

    REFRACTION is a highly readable/devourable book that is certainly a page-turner. In the post-apocalyptic future, a small island appears to be the only place to have survived an alien landing. A strange ship showed up in the sky and mirrors are the tools through which aliens have sent Beings to destroy humankind. The island has survived by outlawing mirrors.

    Marty has hopes that his brother is still out there somewhere, and he is determined to get to him. He illegally deals in mirrors to gather

    REFRACTION is a highly readable/devourable book that is certainly a page-turner. In the post-apocalyptic future, a small island appears to be the only place to have survived an alien landing. A strange ship showed up in the sky and mirrors are the tools through which aliens have sent Beings to destroy humankind. The island has survived by outlawing mirrors.

    Marty has hopes that his brother is still out there somewhere, and he is determined to get to him. He illegally deals in mirrors to gather the funds he needs to find his brother. The penalty for such dealings is exile, which essentially equates to death with the Beings who are out there. When he is caught by the mayor's son, and they are exiled together, their journey becomes even stranger than the lone island they came from, and bigger questions and answers arise.

    To avoid spoilers, I will be somewhat vague. The plot was quite creative with plenty of twists and turns. A lot of questions come up earlier and they are all answered by book's end. The strongest part of the book is the main character, Marty, and how he lives with his OCD. The book does a great job of describing this as well as his past therapies/treatments, and the portrayal really brings OCD to life for people who do not have this disorder. Given the setting/other events, this may seem like a smaller part of the story, but I found it to be the most poignant and the biggest takeaway from a solid sci-fi/dystopian read.

    Overall, this is a great YA sci-fi read- not only for the page-turning, fast-paced, and mind-stretching plot that keeps the reader hooked, but also, mainly, for the powerful #ownvoices portrayal of a main character with OCD. Highly recommend picking this one up.

    Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.

  • Athena (OneReadingNurse)

    Thank you to Page Street Kids and the FFBC for the finished copy and for including me in the instagram tour for Refraction!

    I actually read it in two sittings, the synopsis is not exaggerating at all when it says faat pacing! I was hooked from the start to the end, for a few different reasons.

    First off I liked the characters. After an alien invasion, any reflective surface can now spawn vicious shadow creatures, so mirrors become illegal. Marty deals in illegal mirrors which are still prized for

    Thank you to Page Street Kids and the FFBC for the finished copy and for including me in the instagram tour for Refraction!

    I actually read it in two sittings, the synopsis is not exaggerating at all when it says faat pacing! I was hooked from the start to the end, for a few different reasons.

    First off I liked the characters. After an alien invasion, any reflective surface can now spawn vicious shadow creatures, so mirrors become illegal. Marty deals in illegal mirrors which are still prized for their potential to create electricity in the dystopian society that has developed on the island. Elliot is a great character too, I enjoyed watching the two boys begrudgingly work together and then become friends.

    The plot was absolutely breakneck, and after the boys are exiled and start learning what is happening to Earth, it became awful hard to put the book down. It is hard to not give spoilers but the main character has OCD, which ties into the rather large psychological aspect of the story.

    The way that the action is framed can be done either very well or very poorly, and I was nervous at first but the author did it VERY well I thought, because it made sense. You'll see what I mean when you read it!

    I would fully recommend the book for any fans of sci fi, psychological aspects, and there is a touch of horror and supernatural as well. There is something for everyone here including found families and a lot of personal growth.

    Thank you again for including me in the tour!!

  • Penny

    I really have been off of YA lately just because I have my own teens at home, and the angst there is enough for me! LOL! However, I do read one once in a while if something strikes me, or it’s from an author I like. The plot of this book really struck me, and I had to read it. I’m very glad I did! This tale, from beginning to end, was very hard to put down. I love how the author weaved in OCD, but not in an in your face way. It made it that much more real. Twists and turns kept me guessing which

    I really have been off of YA lately just because I have my own teens at home, and the angst there is enough for me! LOL! However, I do read one once in a while if something strikes me, or it’s from an author I like. The plot of this book really struck me, and I had to read it. I’m very glad I did! This tale, from beginning to end, was very hard to put down. I love how the author weaved in OCD, but not in an in your face way. It made it that much more real. Twists and turns kept me guessing which is hard to do as I usually figure out twists before they even appear. The characters did have a good depth, and Marty is a great main character, though at times I did have a hard time relating to him. This was a fast-paced, action-packed great book that I do recommend!

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