Review by Fraser Ward
The young adult story Out of the Blue is a stunningly well-written debut novel by Sophie Cameron. Although falling into the young adult fiction category, the narrative dabbles in themes of fantasy and mystery, giving readers a well-rounded novel.
Our story follows the perspective of 17-year-old Jaya, whose world has been flipped upside down since the accidental death of her mother earlier in the year. Whilst dealing with the heart-wrenching feelings of grief, her world and everyone else’s becomes even more unbelievable as humans begin falling mysteriously from the sky. The people, who are known as “beings” in the novel, are angels who crash into spread out locations across the world, causing disruption to all.
We learn about the harsh yet realistic reactions the world has to this mystery, showing the mild crumbling of society in response to the possible end of the world. Through showing these events with calm pacing in the first four chapters, Cameron constructs her book’s plot in a very neatly and informative manner. Readers understand the content and main character’s viewpoint early on, setting them up for the events to come without being confused with the unfamiliar scenario.
Cameron uses Jaya to explore the topic of grief through magical realism, showing the journey of Jaya coming to terms with her mother’s death through her relationship with Teacake, the 89th being Jaya miraculously finds alive when walking alone at night. Our plot focuses on the hiding of Teacake, and how the characters we’re introduced to react to an angel in the flesh. Questions and themes of the afterlife and why the angels are falling are raised in the novel.
The novel is more than a young adult piece showing a protagonist navigate themselves through life, but an enjoyable self-aid book that can be beneficial to those struggling with the long impinging effects of loss. It highlights the importance of family and friendships, including well developed character arcs which satisfy the reader. Although the mystery as to why the angels fall is never answered, I still felt content, as it allows audiences to be open to interpretation, forming a world of their own.
The main element I enjoyed in this book was how casual the introduction of Jaya’s lesbian sexuality was written. Her sexuality was written in a way which showed it didn’t define her, and was not solely the character’s identity, something many authors fail at. Very rarely do LGBT readers like me come across work which shows likable main protagonists who are gay, and unfortunately too often the characters we do read are stereotypical side characters whose contribution is minimal.
In summary, I really enjoyed this piece of literature. It’s very impressive for a debut novel, showing how already evolved and established Cameron’s writing style is. It’s a book which reminded me of many other well received novels that have dealt with similar themes, like Lovely Bones and If I Stay, which gave me a warming nostalgic feeling. Upon finishing the novel (which made me cry at the end), I had to follow Cameron online. At such an early stage she shows so much maturity in her style, and is someone I feel like people should look out for in the future.