Book – The lightning tree by Lene Fogelberg
Genre – YA fantasy

“There is always a moment of lingering, of floating in the air, a moment between inhales and exhales, the universe holding its breath.” – Fauna

Perhaps this is where beauty resides – the space between words, encapsulating an infinity that transcends the verbal. This universality of feeling and experience contributes to the brilliance of Lene Fogelberg’s The Lightning Tree.

The plot of The Lightning Tree revolves around two sisters affected by a tragic natural catastrophe. While Fauna succumbed to the lightning strike, her elder sister Flora survived, only to witness a series of mysterious deaths in her town a year later. However, Flora does seem to join the dots, as she realises that the youths are now caught in the ever-going tussle between Man and Nature; but this time, things are about to get darker. So, it is in the hands of Flora and her friends to stop the coming of an apocalyptic future, torn apart by the horrors of an ecological war. So, as far as the reader’s perspective is concerned, did the first installment of The NI Revolution Trilogy make a good impression?

There is more to The Lightning Tree than what meets the eye. As a YA Fantasy novel, The Lightning Tree busts many stereotypes and tropes surrounding this genre; the most prominent of them being how a young person goes up against a corrupt and authoritative establishment to make the world a better place. This kind of ‘saviour complex’ is typical of many YA protagonists, as they struggle to make things right. Most importantly, their struggle is fuelled by the prevalence of an evil organisation that is run and manipulated by humans. Interestingly, The Lightning Tree moves away from these tropes unabashedly, and this is a major reason why I thoroughly loved reading the book.

The premise of the book is set in the context of dire ecological developments that have been taking place over the past two decades – climate change, global warming, and so on. I personally felt that The Lightning Tree addresses the necessity to talk address real-life issues concerning ecology and our environment by initiating a dialogue with the help of the protagonists – Flora and Fauna. The author has done a remarkable job at narrating the story so seamlessly, while also going ahead with the unconventional style of alternating prose with poetry, chapter-wise. While Flora’s story arc drives the plot at its own pace, Fauna’s verses further enhance the overall mood of the book in a phenomenal way. ‘Phenomenal’ I say, because of the sheer simplicity that goes in tandem with the pragmatism upheld throughout the book. It is subjective and practical, emotional and didactic, aesthetic and insightful. My only complaint, however, is the absence of trigger warnings regarding certain events in the storyline that are capable of direly affecting the reader’s state of mind. And, it’s high time that TWs were normalised in writing and other arts!

In short, The Lightning Tree is a wonderful YA fantasy novel that deserves to be read over and over again for its narrative technique and the spellbinding verses that will grip your heart and anchor your soul via its underlying philosophy on life and living.

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