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Lovely, Dark, and Deep

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  496 ratings  ·  117 reviews
What would you do if the sun became your enemy?

That's exactly what happens to Viola Li after she returns from a trip abroad and develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity -- an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn't just have to wear layers of clothes and a hat the size of a spaceship. She has to stay away from all h
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  496 ratings  ·  117 reviews

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Simi Sunny
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vicky Again
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 stars

I really enjoyed reading Lovely, Dark, and Deep!

It's a really good young adult novel for the younger YA readers (although it doesn't mean older readers can't appreciate it either) and something I wish I had available to read when I was a tween going on teen looking for books that weren't VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE to read.

Viola and her struggles are super relatable. As an Asian-American teen, I felt like this was such a good representation of one end of the Asian parent scale--parents might
Kelly Hager
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been a fan of Justina Chen's ever since I read North of Beautiful and every book since has only made me appreciate her more. I've loved every book of hers that I've read, and this one is no exception.

I think we've all heard of this condition, but it's rare to see something about it in stories. (I've really only seen it in the movie The Others, which is probably not very comforting to people who actually have it.)

It's scary to think about how quickly your life can completely change, and th
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
no rating for now, not sure if I feel comfortable rating it. full review in the drafts. long story short: I did enjoy it overall, but I have mixed feelings about the disability rep.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen is a brilliant novel about chasing life even when what that life might be dramatically different from what you were expecting. Lovely, Dark, and Deep is beautifully written, with a likeable heroine and a nice mix of uplifting messages and humour.

Viola has her life all planned out - first travel overseas with her Aunt, then major in journalism before becoming an international foreign correspondent traveling to war zones and other dangerous places to expose
Laura Gardner
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to @scholasticinc for the free book to share with @kidlitexchange ! LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP by @authorjustinachen comes out on 7/31/18 and is book 2 for my #30booksummer !

Viola Li (biracial Asian/white) is a senior in high school who develops an extreme case of photosensitivity (allergy to light) after a trip abroad to Africa with her aunt. Her crisis manager parents put their professional skills to work to manage her condition and soon Viola is wearing huge hats and
I loved that the main character was part Mongolian, since there is literally no Mongolian rep in YA literature- Asian main characters are written only by Asian main characters. I appreciated this a lot.
Tressa (Wishful Endings)
Loved, loved, loved! Review posting tomorrow.
chloe ♡
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to chloe by: Cintia
4.5 stars
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, Dark, and Deep, by Justina Chen, it sounds like a adequate book just by the title, and it was. Lovely, Dark, and Deep was about a teenage girl who was living life to the fullest when her life gets to the best of her. She found out that her now ex-boyfriend was using her, she was diagnosed with a sun allergy, and she meets a new guy, better known as Josh who tries to take her heart away. But she doesn't know if her heart is ready to get taken again. Even if she was ready she couldn't poss ...more
Paige Dan
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is about finding the beauty in life no matter what is thrown at you. It's a sweet story and it's one I enjoyed overall.
Character development- lovely. Even Roz grew up the tiniest little bit.
Readability- My biggest hold up. Since this book is about a girl with photosensitivity the first page of each chapter is a shade of increasingly dark gray. By the end of the book the type has changed to white on black paper but the last 10 or 15 chapters before that color change makes the pages ve
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
After reading many 4- and 5-star reviews, I was excited to read this book. But alas, it was really not for me.

It was interesting to learn about photosensitivity and the many different types of photosensitive conditions. I also like the constant theme of crisis management (Viola's parents run their own international crisis relief organisation), and living in/with a crisis like being allergic to all light. Viola's also a unique character who does grow as she comes to terms with her condition. But
Katherine Paschal
Viola has her whole life planned out for once she graduates high school, she just has to get around to telling her parents about her dreams. When she is outside a geektastic convention trying to sale her baked goods for a worthy cause, the next thing she knows is she is passing out and caught by Thor, god of lightning. Suddenly, Viola's plans mean nothing, the life she thought she wanted is outside her grasp because her body turned on itself- and the sun she loved so much is her enemy.

When I fi
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know how they tell you to write the book you'd like to read and haven't found? For me this is the book I wanted to read but hadn't found. However, I did not write, instead Justina did.

We follow Viola's story through this book, she is a browncoat, which in geekspeak means a fan of Firefly, and is also crazy about doing bake sales for charity (that is something I am not that familiar with except as a concept but all the food she cooks throughout the book made me hungry and I wish we had some r
Nov 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
My original review on my Dreamwidth was over twelve hundred words and much harsher than this. I cut out some of the angriest paragraphs for this, and remembered some details now, that I'd forgotten while typing out the original.
As the book deals with photosensitivity and the protagonist literally needs to be in the dark, the author chose something clever: the pages themselves darken as the book progresses, until they are black with white lettering. Not every page, but at intervals. Sometimes the
Julia Bucci
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story starts with Viola a healthy almost senior in high school and the reader experiences her diagnoses of photosensitivity with her. It reminds me some of Everything Everything - controlling parents and a diagnosis that traps the main character indoors. But Viola is older and has lived her life in the sun so she resists and fights back thru the process. Only to have her body fight back even harder.

I loved the characters in this book. A beautiful love story with Josh, who you can't help by l
Becky Osmon
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I sometimes think the authors of YA romance are just pulling issues/themes out of a hat and at first I really rolled my eyes at this one - she's got photosynthesis disorder (extreme sensitivity to light) and his twin brother just died in a car accident. But it was a really cute story - well written, witty and smart and bonus points for shout outs to nerd culture (Firefly Browncoats are featured).
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Through some very weird circumstances, Viola develops a condition that doesn't allow her to be in any kind of light for too long. Her dreams of saving the world slowly shrink away because of this condition, how can she save the world if she can't even go out into the sun? As this is happening, she meets Thor aka Josh. At first, she just assumes that he's just a typical player due to past events in her life, but he slowly proves her wrong and shows him a really adorable side of himself. I liked b ...more
Kelly Gunderman
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Check out this, other reviews, and more bookish things on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

I knew I was going to enjoy this book when I first read about it - I'm drawn to books that focus on teens dealing with realistic issues, whether they be medical issues, social issues, etc. When I came across Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Christina Chen, I fell in love with the cover, the synopsis, and let's face it - the super awesome way the pages get darker and darker gradually as the book g
Title is based on a poem by Robert Frost. Viola loves a good cause, so she is selling baos at Seattle Center when she suddenly falls ill. It's caught on video and goes viral. But she was rescued by handsome Josh who would like to pursue a relationship with her. However, Viola has developed a severe case of photosensitivity and her crisis management parents have abruptly curtailed all of her activities for the sake of her health.

A sweet romance plus an interesting look at a rare (or rarely heard
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was adorable. I was really worried about the premise because of that movie that just came out where the main character has a similar allergy/disease. But what I appreciated most about this book was that Viola’s condition wasn’t romanticized or something she needed to learn to deal with purely for a relationship to work. Because she develops the photosensitivity at the start of the novel, the whole story is about her (and everyone in her life) learning how to follow Plan B and make the ...more
It was...okay. There were basically three main ideas--Viola's newly diagnosed light allergy, her relationship with her family, and her relationship with Josh--but none of them really came to life for me. I've read a couple books by Justina Chen before (Girl Overboard, which was decent, and North of Beautiful, which I loved) and I don't remember thinking anything in particular about the writing itself, but I found the writing in this book a little unfocused and distracting.

Note: If you don't have
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There will be a larger post on my blog for this, Justina.

For now, I leave you with these words and no spoilers for those who hope to read my review to get a feel for you who are as a writer and what this book meant to me.

Your writing voice, Justina, is true. It is an incredible voice that I hope to read many more books from. I already have plans to read more of your books as soon as I get back on track with my TBR. Which, as you know as an author yourself, is a huge deal for me to deviate from.
Lainie Doran
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Justina Chen had been a book that I didn’t know much about before picking it up, but, just from reading the back cover, that I expected to enjoy. This book is entertaining and the characters had me so hooked that at times it was difficult to put the book down, but I found that the plot is very cliche.
Everything begins at a bake sale. Viola is selling baked goods and talking to a boy when she gets dizzy and faints. She wakes up in the hospital only to find out she has a r
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Picked up Lovely, Dark, and Deep on a whim because I loved the name—and then the opening pages featured Firefly references?! I didn't stand a chance.

So this is basically a YA coming-of-age novel with a few twists that I didn't expect, since I didn't even read a synopsis before I started it. The main character, Viola, develops a mysterious case of photosensitivity that seems to become more severe as time goes on. This "medical crisis" plot is interwoven with a cute love story*, an examination of
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rising senior Viola has her life plan all set; she's going to be an international investigative reporter and go to NYU Abu-Dhabi, no matter what her professionally risk-averse parents say. She's been building her resume with bake sale activism, among other things, and it's at one of those when everything goes south. She collapses and is taken to the hospital, and gradually she and her family come to understand that she's got a rare disease that makes her skin allergic to light. Viola's life is t ...more
Andria Sedig
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Viola has her life planned out - she wants to run 50 successful bake sales for 50 different causes to catapult her into her college of choice to become a international corespondent. But when she faints at one of these bake sales, her life is changed forever. Viola has an extreme case of photosensitivity, an unknown, uncurable allergy to the sun. Her parents begin immediately creating plans to help Viola manage, including swapping out her wardrobe, wearing giant hats, and switching to home school ...more
I received this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Geek queen, Viola, is working on her latest geek bake sale for good, when her skin begins flushing and she feels faint. One of the Firefly fans, who looks like Thor, steps in to help Viola and get her to the hospital. Viola quickly learns that she has developed an allergy to the sun and many other forms of light. This drastic change in her health threatens all of the plans she has made, from attending college in Abu Dubai (essen
Viola’s sun sensitivity is something that I’ve encountered in another novel. But that one was about a foolish boy who decides to pretend he’s a vampire because, hey, vampires are hot! But Viola is a very different individual. She’s smart, has interesting and unusual ambitions, an analytical mind and parents who love her and each other fiercely.

Viola’s response to her solar urticaria (which the novel delves into with just enough detail to make it fascinating and not mere boring exposition) range
After Viola Li develops a sensitivity to sunlight so extreme that even the smallest amount makes her ill, her life completely changes. No longer can she bask in the sun's rays or even look at windows or drive her car during the daylight hours. Her loving parents quickly move in to protect her from any harm, even going so far as to move her bedroom into the basement. But as much as Viola appreciates their loving care, she wants more from life and dreams of a romantic relationship with Josh, the b ...more
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Justina Chen is an award-winning writer. Her latest book, THE ART OF INSPIRATION: LEAD YOUR BEST STORY, is for any leader who wants to inspire employees, customers, and constituents. Her YA novel, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, was named to Best Books lists by Kirkus Reviews and Barnes & Noble. Her other novels include A Blind Spot for Boys, Return to Me, Girl Overboard (a Junior Library Guild premiere selec ...more

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