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The Light at the Bottom of the World

(Light the Abyss #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  336 reviews
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope--fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface.

When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the prestigious annual mar
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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London Shah Hi Shannon, thank you for the question :) I hadn't heard of the drag queen who shares Leyla's name, until after my story sold. As a result, I ensured …moreHi Shannon, thank you for the question :) I hadn't heard of the drag queen who shares Leyla's name, until after my story sold. As a result, I ensured Leyla's first name was spelled differently, because I was not prepared to change it. I love McQueen and I love Leyla. It's a gorgeous name that's now been taken by 2 gorgeous ladies! :)(less)
London Shah Hi there! 'The Light at the Bottom of the World' is Part 1 of a duology. The story was simply too long to fit into one book. Thank you :)…moreHi there! 'The Light at the Bottom of the World' is Part 1 of a duology. The story was simply too long to fit into one book. Thank you :)(less)

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London Shah
Dec 15, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Hiiii :-) Can't wait to welcome you guys into my submerged world, and to introduce you to Leyla McQueen. Join her on her underwater adventure as she navigates the eerie and exquisite deep to solve the ever-growing mystery of her missing papa—and discovers along the way that they're all basically drowning in lies...I'm so incredibly excited for you to enter this world! ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-read
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Debut novels have really been impressive lately. The Light at the Bottom of the World is no exception.

This is a truly captivating story. I've never read anything quite like it.

Set at the end of the 21st-century, the world is now underwater. Our protagonist, 16-year old, Leyla McQueen, is living on her own in London.

Her Father has been arrested and spirited away by government authorities, although no one will tell her to where.

Leyla knows he is innocent of the crimes for
There are so many things I loved about this book, I don't really know where to start!!

So it's set in the future where the world is underwater because the surface has been rendered unlivable - which, first of all, is an amazing concept. It's also executed absolutely brilliant. The world-building in the book is fantastic, both futuristic while tethered to old-world nostalgia, with great commentary on how nostalgia can be destructive and harmful to us, if we can't look past it for long enough to lo
Laura Weymouth
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Light at the Bottom of the World is a gorgeous, hope-filled underwater adventure that always leaves room for wonder.

Leyla McQueen makes a refreshing change as a YA main character--she's unquenchably optimistic, and driven by her love of family. Her world is an absolute delight to explore--author London Shah does a brilliant job of portraying a submerged London, along with all the extraordinary and mundane aspects of life below the sea. The story is pacy, the setting lush and original, but i
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A full review can be found on my blog, Headscarves and Hardbacks!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!

I was both excited and nervous to dive into this because it’s one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year, but it’s needless to say that the book surpassed all of my expectations.

Shah’s writing is captivating in a way that allows the reader to fully submerge themselves in a unique underwater world and be swept away by the
Samantha Shannon
I have thalassophobia. Consequently, I've always found the the sea – particularly its abyssal zone – to be a source of both fascination and extreme fear.

Debut author London Shah illuminates the abyss in The Light at the Bottom of the World. It's a fast, accessible and high-concept adventure, driven by the determined and optimistic Leyla McQueen, who is willing to risk anything to save her beloved father from imprisonment. It's also an unapologetically British story, with plenty of slang and reg
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I was one of the lucky few who got to read and fall in love with this book. Yesssss!!!

This book is insanely good. The characters aren't your typical YA characters, rather all have their own back stories and needs and goals. Plus Leyla, the protagonist, is a British Muslim girl of Afghan descent, and being both South Asian and Muslim myself, I related in so many ways to her.

This book will knock your socks off, world!
As Taylor Swift said,
"Are you ready for it?" ;)
Vinny —.:* Film & Fiction
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Post-apocalyptic fan!
—☽.。* Quick recap!
☆ Short synopsis: A teen racer joining a racing competition in the hope of winning the first place and trade the prize to free her falsely charged father.
☆ Read this book if you're: Fan of the underwater dystopian story written by an #OwnVoices Muslim author.
☆ You might want to consider it because: The story took place in the dark & deep ocean. It might be unsettling, especially if you have a phobia of deep water.

The Light at the Bottom of the World is a story of hope and t
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Light at the Bottom of the World will sweep you away in its powerful current. It's a wild world underneath the waves and Shah tells a story of nostalgia, conspiracy, and the need to move forwards. The Light at the Bottom of the World is a story about family, the pursuit of truth, and the depths of darkness. Leyla is a character that is easy to root for - her desire for family, for
Perusing YA
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What a thrilling scifi story!! I've been in a book slump for a few months now and THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD pulled me straight out of it.

What I LOVE about this book:
--> Stunning world building - Shah's descriptions are mesmerizing and put you right there with Leyla in her sub as she explores the boundless water.

--> Leyla McQueen - a Muslim girl leading the charge into danger and battle with strength, compassion, and determination to rescue her father.

--> References to Leyla bei
S.K. Ali
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blurbed
I'm so excited for everyone to get to know Leyla McQueen!
Here's my official blurb:
Riveting and exciting, LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD is a heart-racing adventure that reveals compelling and necessary truths about several critical issues of our times, while delivering all the thrills and twists of an epic quest. A stand-out, must-read book that engulfed me in its enthralling world and characters. Leyla McQueen is queen of the (under)seas!
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
Kind of surprised this one seems to have flown under the radar. As far as YA fantasy goes, it’s one of the better ones I’ve read this year. The characters aren’t that revelatory, but the setting is absolutely exceptional.

When I read that it took place in completely underwater version of London, I assumed the inhabitants were all going to be mermaids. Or something similar at least, but nope! In this post-apocalyptic future the surviving civilization lives in airtight dwellings and travels in per
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, ya
See my review on Booktube! ...more
The Nerd Daily
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Vinny MS

Set in the post-apocalyptic underwater London, The Light at the Bottom of the World follows the story of Leyla McQueen, a sixteen-year-old British/Afghan Muslim racer who is seeking for the truth about her father, who was falsely charged by the government. With the belief that her father was innocent, she joins an annual marathon event to win the first place and trade her winning for the freedom of her father. Unfortunately, with the con
Courtney Kae
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Light at the Bottom of the World is literal magic.

I'm humbled and honored to have been an early reader. These characters and their hearts still live with me. Leyla is what the world needs, especially now.

The SETTING is so entirely cinematic--immersive, stunning, gorgeously detailed, and joyfully imaginative.

Everything about this book will sweep you away and fill you with hope.

The first of many beauties from the immensely talented and lovely London Shah.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to be an early reader for this book, and fell in love instantly.

A true adventure, you'll plunge into a world that is both familiar and strange. Underwater London, with only submersibles for travel, combining the majesty of ocean scenes with a futuristic civilization.

Combine a gorgeous setting with a cast of characters that will draw you completely in, political intrigue, and danger on every side, and you, like me, won't be able to put it down. Although you, future readers, wi
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
Okay so I was expecting the submarine race to be a lot more of this book but it's done like in the first 1/3 of the story so that threw me a bit. I didn't realize how much government conspiracy was going to be in this and that we'd have an attempt at a prison break. This has a lot of elements that I enjoy but I think my favourite part was Leyla and her bodyguard. She was really likable and strong and not a stupid damsel. I loved that the conflict with the world pulls in some things from climate ...more
LOVED from start to finish; the ending literally made the bottom drop out of my stomach. Full review will appear in an upcoming issue of School Library Journal.
Kal ★ Reader Voracious

The Light at the Bottom of the World won the Best YA Setting & Best YA Cover categories of the 2019 Bookish Reader's Choice Awards!

“Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters. The great Old Floods had done more than exile humanity to the depths of the oceanic abyss. They had also ravaged humankind of all faith and, like expiring pockets of air, sucked out any belief they would ever again live in peace.”
The Light at the Bottom of the World is set in the year 2099, about sixty-five
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Light at the Bottom of the World is a book with a lot of heart, and a sensitive one at that. I found Leyla to be a wonderful main character; she was strong, determined, and so very afraid of the world around her, but that never stopped her from following her heart and doing what needed to be done. In a world full of strong female characters, there seems to be a lack of characters who are on the softer side of strong, more resilient and determined than battle ready and punching faces in, whic ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from the author and it doesn't affect my opinion of the book in any way.

The Light at The Bottom of The World by London Shah is definitely a unique read, it's unlike anything I've read before and I love it even more for that!

I don't even know where to begin but I'm going to say this: you have to add this book to your TBR right now! It's the kind of book that once you dive in you won't want to stop reading🙌.

London's writing style is amazing. She created a story that I'm sure
Diana Urban
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Light at the Bottom of the World is a compelling, atmospheric dystopia of a society living under water. The world-building in this book is phenomenal, with rich and vivid descriptions, and all the details were so well thought-out. I loved seeing how people lived in a flooded world, and appreciated the focus on the mental health ramifications of such an environment—the ever-present nostalgia for life on land, and the “seasickness” depression. It felt realistic.

I also absolutely LOVED the mara
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-releases
I was one of the few who was lucky enough to read a draft of this early on, and oh my word, can I just say, you all are in for treat!! Submersible racing in an alternate future Underwater London??? Umm yess!

Leyla is a devastatingly endearing character and her antics both on and off the racecourse will have you alternately giggling and in tears. And this is all to say nothing of the intrigue surrounding her Papa’s disappearance and the astonishing secrets she uncovers about her world while search
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book was received as an ARC from Disney Book Group - Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

After this book I was in complete shock! I was blown away by the concept of this book and the climax driven from the race really opened my eyes and brought a lot of things to light (literally!). I could see myself with Leyla and racing with the sea creatures in hopes of saving her father who has been arrested. Then during
Tom Malinowski
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
100 years in the future, Britain and most of the world is underwater due to a calamity. The London Submersible Marathon is on everyone's mind, especially teen Leyla's. If she wins, could ask for anything wants and she's already decided, have her father freed from prison. His disappearance still has left her with many questions. When she teams up with the mysterious Ari who will help her retrieve her father, could their blossoming friendship be derailed by a secret he's keeping?

Enjoyed this. The
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read an early version of this manuscript and loved it!
Nadine Courtney
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A page-turning, gorgeous read: Leyla McQueen is an incredible protagonist (hopeful, loving, and so easy to root for)!
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

The Buzz

Honestly I mixed up this debut author, London Shah, with another published author. But who cares?! I loved the premise of the world being underwater, plus I enjoy reading debuts so it wasn't a problem... until I started reading The Light at the Bottom of the World.

I love jellyfish but I don't really know what to make of the cover for The Light at the Bottom of the World. It's really dark and they don't live in domes so the art is mislea
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Um, if your first reaction when you finish reading this isn't WOW then we need to no longer be friends. There is so much to commend this fantastic debut, and the least of that is the incredible world-building. It reminded me so much of Bioshock and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea!

Full review at A Book Review

First Read: November 2019
Second Read: March 2021

Obviously I have to start this review by gushing about the world-building. I mean, guys, the entire story is set under the sea! How i
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Completely unique and entertaining!
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London Shah is a British Muslim of Pashtun ethnicity. She has lived in Britain's capital for most of her life, via England's beautiful North. On any given day she can be found daydreaming of a different past, an alternate present, or some surreal future. She enjoys drinking copious amounts of tea, eating all the sweets and cakes, strolling through Richmond Park or along the Thames, getting lost on ...more

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Light the Abyss (2 books)
  • Journey to the Heart of the Abyss (Light the Abyss, #2)

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42 likes · 15 comments
“The human spirit didn’t drown. It was swept up and carried along; it flows still, the stream coursing its way through everyone’s lives.

I just have to find a way to beat the dread, that’s all.”
“All things change, and we change with them.” 4 likes
More quotes…