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The Light of the Fireflies

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  29,696 ratings  ·  3,492 reviews
A haunting and hopeful tale of discovering light in even the darkest of places.

For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns.

He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touc
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Amazon Crossing (first published May 2013)
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Susan Cairney I wouldn't call it abuse per's something far weirder than that!…moreI wouldn't call it abuse per's something far weirder than that!(less)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  29,696 ratings  ·  3,492 reviews

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Kenneth Buff
Mar 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 2017
3.5 stars.

This was an intriguing story, about a family living in the basement of their former home. After reading the first two chapters, it was evident that this was going to be a dark tale, that took on an even darker tone when it changed to a third person perspective: which serves as the back-story of why they ended up living underground for so many years. It also explains how they were able to survive down there without ever leaving.

The first person narrative is told by the (boy) - they don'
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was going to give this book three stars because the author's writing was good enough to keep me reading until the end, but the more I thought about the story, the more I leaned towards reducing the stars. The reason? About halfway through the book, you begin to get the back story. At that point a very well written story that I thought was heading towards a touching and inspirational end as the editorial review would have you think, turned into something different. Once I knew the motivation of ...more
A door loses its meaning if you don't ever go through it. It becomes a wall.

The boy has spent ten years of his life in the basement. He was born there, and has only seen the outside world in picture books. His mother, father, older brother, and grandmother all have burn scars on their faces; his sister's scars are so bad, her face is hidden behind a mask. They all live together in the basement and try to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible.

They are failing . . . miserably.

This one is pret
Kevin Ansbro
Convoluted, implausible beyond belief, gossamer-thin characterisation; what do these people even look like? Not impressed.
: (
Mr. Grumpy Pants.
A mask. Think of what it can cover, and what it cannot hide. Some very creepy family dynamics take front and center stage for this unsettling novel. The characters are never named, and it worked well here.

Hear the sound of the mother's nose oddly whistling as she stirs the carrot soup. Smell the talcum powder emanating from the grandmother. Consider the Cricket Man, a face that is inside out, and a little boy who loves his book about insects. A seventh plate of food is always set at mealtime for
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-like
I wanted to like this one but unfortunately it didn't live up to expectations The Light Of The Fireflies by Paul pen was a bit like Room but way out there the premise starts out in the before then goes forward. There are no characters told by Mother, father, Sister, brother & grandmother . they live in the basement due to a fire which severely burned them all.

But from then on I just didn't get it even though they were safe inside rather than out the story was confusing & I kept wondering WHAT TH
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Room on steroids. (Sorry, I never saw the movie, Room, but I did read the book. As an interesting aside, the original, pre-translation version of this came out only 2-3 years after Room. I'm curious to know if the author had read it before or after.) Basically, I think that's all that needs to be said. Nonetheless...

this is not for the faint of heart. The book is deeply disturbing. Without offering any spoilers, the book raises the bar on dysfunctional families, seen through the eyes of the youn
Mar 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
No. This book is crap. It tries to be profound or shocking but one does not earn profundity just by throwing a lot of weighty topics (abuse, incest, living in a basement for ten years) at a "plot" and then doing the Gone Girl sort of twist where I'm supposed to be shocked that NOTHING IS WHAT YOU THOUGHT WOOO JAZZ HANDS DUN DUN DUNNN. Nope. The characters are not empathetic even once you're supposedly given all the stories, and a father is abusive, but out of love, see? and massive brutal crimes ...more
 Simply Sam ツ

This book.


Here it goes.

So there's this family living in a basement. In fact, the boy has lived his whole life there (10 years). He shares the space with his Mom, Dad, sister, brother, Grandma and now a new baby nephew. Just FYI, they are never named and are only ever referred to by their relation to the boy. The entire family (with the exception of himself and the new baby) have been disfigured by a fire and never leave the basement. Ever. The sister has been so horribly maimed that sh
Pamela / SpazP
Oct 24, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate myself for reading this book to the end, because now I just want to fight air over how horrifyingly and in your face mysogynist this book is. I had very very big issues with this book. Holy SHIT the misogyny dripping from the pages as if it's totally okay. I like dark stories, but the TONE of this "the female character is ALL TO BLAME", can only come from a dude who does not care very much for women. I can't even think it's the translation to blame, no, the GIRL did this to the boy, forge ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Horror story--started out great, but descended into child abuse, incest and parental misconduct. Ugh!
Man, this book had so much potential and I was stoked to get started on this, but it was just okay.
Lark Benobi
Aug 13, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
I thought it was just about perfect until p 164 when it began to run off the rails completely until by the end it was a sloppy-floppy mess of scooped up ideas thrown together in a box, or a basement, and wow I don't know if I've ever been so disappointed by the direction a book took after such a promising beginning. ...more
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c-w-mars
I have to admit that I absolutely enjoyed this novel and the very troubling story that lies within. The writing and translation are amazing.

This is a very dark story about a family that lives in a basement and are never allowed to leave. They have a son that is born while underground and has no idea of the "real world" above. As he grows older (10 yrs) he begins to grow more curious with the stories he's being told. He's not sure if he trusts his family any longer. His imagination has him consta
Jennifer Mcbride
Jul 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly Muller
Apr 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book. Yes, I finished it as I thought, surely, there would be some redemption. No. Awful, just awful. Depressing. Dysfunctional family? This doesn't even come close. To those who have said they "loved it", please seek psychiatric treatment immediately. I hated to give it 1 star. ...more
Jo (The Book Geek)
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-m-in-love
I've had this surprising little page turner on my Kindle for a few months, and I'm so glad I finally decided to read it. I believe this book has received some negativity, but for me, it was grand. I'm known to be stingy with my five stars, but this book did a number on me.

"And those unwilling to look beyond their own little world will be left in the dark."

When I began reading this book, I was rather surprised at how dark the theme is. I certainly wasn't expecting it, at all. What I thought wou
Shweta Padma Das
Couldn't put it down! ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-ebooks
Truly don't understand the hype around this book. It was written well, but it was just confusing and kind of dull. The family's reasoning for doing the things they did is convoluted and not relatable.
There's probably a lot more symbolism and allusions than I'm willing to analyze though. So I guess if you're into faux complex and symbolic novels with a couple of "twists" then this is the book for you.
Bryony Nelson
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, favorites
Ugh, I loved this book so much.
Michele Whitecotton
What luck that this is the book I chose for my March Kindle Firsts book, otherwise I probably would have never heard of it or read it! I enjoyed this book a lot. I wasn't sure I would like it because at first it was just confusing. The first half of the book describes the day to day life of a family that is a little creepy and slightly disturbing and lives in a basement. It is told by the son of the family and the only member to have not been burned and scarred in a fire. I had a lot of question ...more
Melissa Storm
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely amazing. I could not put this book down. I think it's my favorite of the year so far. While I've never read a book quite like this, I think the closest comparisons may be Room by Emma Donoghue or Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Bizarre and beautifully characterized with a series of surprises to keep you on edge to the very end, The Light of the Fireflies offers a compelling take on family, freedom, and imagination.

Read the book description. If it makes you stop and go "hmmm", then read t
Aug 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hatedit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sumit Singla
'The boy' lives in a basement. With his family. They had to move in after 'the fire'.

The first half of the book raises more and more questions, and things continually get majorly fucked up. Then, some lights come on and dispel the darkness. Really? No. In the second half, things start to make sense for a while, and then it all goes further downhill.

Paul Pen gives unique voices to all his characters, but he doesn't give them names. That creates a bit of conflict in the reader's mind because it i
Amber Boles
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is deeply disturbing and page turning. It will take you on an emotional roller coaster but is a good read.
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprise treasure that kept me up reading it until I finally finished it at 3:10 a.m. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I couldn't wait to read what happened next. I couldn't believe the depths of hell I reached as I followed this story down it's treacherous and twisted path. (view spoiler) ...more
Gwyn Evans
Mar 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book free through the Kindle First program. I was intrigued by the premise of a family living in the basement, and the mysterious circumstances that led to that, plus an incestuous pregnancy. I gave up 75% of the way through because to call the characters one-dimensional is to overstate their depth, and they lurched through the plot like paper dolls being shoved through a play.

As I started to read the book, and guess at clues, I expected it was a fictionalized version of that lunatic
5 unique, creepy, ah-mazing stars!

Omg omg omg this book! LOVED THIS BOOK TO PIECES!

This book is just SO HARD to describe!

A "Show, don’t tell" masterpiece! Trapped in the mind of a nine year old, you will be shown EVERYTHING and told ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I can't write a good review for this book but I WILL promise you this...

At the end you may love or hate this book, BUT you will find it impossible to put it down!

You will flip pages, totally enthralled! You will pull your hair, bite your nails, an
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-challenge
I'm not sure how I feel about this book yet. It is equal parts depressing and infuriating. Most of the characters have done despicable things, all in the name of familial love. Yet I can't support their actions or feel any remorse for them. There are dark themes and undercurrents throughout this book and nothing becomes clear until around 170 pages in. If you can hang tough for that long without knowing how characters ended up in the basement, congratulations. I almost gave up at one point becau ...more
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Play Book Tag: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen- 5 Stars 2 10 Oct 20, 2021 10:34PM  
Anyone else hate it? 24 276 Jan 10, 2020 08:32AM  
Play Book Tag: The Light of the Fireflies - Paul Pen- 4.5 stars 6 22 Jul 05, 2018 09:10AM 1 1 Jul 11, 2017 01:59AM  
Letras Macabras: FEBRERO 17: El Brillo de las Luciérnagas, de Paul Pen 33 122 Feb 25, 2017 10:14AM  

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🇺🇸Paul Pen is a bestselling Spanish author whose four novels have been translated to many languages. The Light of the Fireflies was his first book to be translated to English, becoming an international bestseller. This book was followed by Desert Flowers and Under the Water, with which he reaffirmed his unmistakable brand of literary suspense and ability to create a deeply immersive reading experi ...more

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