Brightside by Mark Tullius
Have you ever been asked “if you could have any superpower…” and then you mentally begin listing off all that you can think of? Telepathy is always one of those that’s listed (but rarely ever chosen). Well, Mark Tullius doesn’t treat telepathy as a superpower in his book Brightside. In fact, the world is afraid of those who can hear others’ thoughts. So much so, that those can are hunted down, rounded up, and sent to live up in the beautiful mountain town of Brightside. Although they are told Brightside is just like anywhere else, perhaps even a nicer place compared to lots of others, it definitely has its down falls. As in millions of miles down! They are isolated and the only way out is to jump off one of the cliffs.
Joe Nolan opens his world to us. He explains how he and others like him are called ‘Thought Thieves’ and how none of them ever had the choice of being the way they were. He has been at Brightside for 100 days but it’s going to be the last day he spends there. He talks of escape for some of his friends; others aren’t so fortunate. But before he can go further with his life sharing, he has to take us back; Back to day 39, back to events in his childhood, back to the people in his life because there is a lot of explanations and even more questions.
All Joe wanted was to have his girl, his dog, and his house. Isn’t that what any of us want? Unfortunately, we rarely get what we want. Perhaps it’s also about how we perceive the things and the people we end up with.
The characters are definitely believable. The good, the bad, and the bullies alike read with a profound manner. From Joe’s childhood ‘frienemies’ to the assholes who are the ‘boots’ they each make their mark in the story. Mark did an excellent job portraying a strong sister who holds to her beliefs and her concerns for her special needs brother while at the same time fighting against her own needs and urges. Kudos! The plot was well laid out. I enjoyed how perfectly proportioned the backstories were given while the real story propelled me forward to the end of day 100. The varying scenes with the dogs tugged at my heart, and I’m not a dog-person. Another Kudos!
The one negative thing I might say about the entire novel was how certain parts of the ‘day 100’ ended up being for me. Perhaps if I were to read it again I might be able to make better sense of things but at moments things just didn’t add up or make full sense. But other than that I couldn’t say another word against this book at all.
Brightside is a riveting story, one very much unlike the many books that end up ‘on the shelves’ or ‘in the ereaders’. Mark Tullius opens this novel with a hard punch that knocks the wind out of you and makes you say a quick prayer “thank you Lord that this isn’t nonfiction!” and then propels you into the dark prison that is Joe Nolan’s world.