Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2)” as Want to Read:
A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Neon Darkness

(The Bright Sessions #2)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  510 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother se
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 29th 2020 by Tor Teen
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Neon Darkness, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Corley Elizabeth Hi Jessica! As someone who recently listened to the podcast before reading The Infinite Noise and beginning this book, I personally think knowing more…moreHi Jessica! As someone who recently listened to the podcast before reading The Infinite Noise and beginning this book, I personally think knowing more about Damien/Robert before going into A Neon Darkness is helping me connect to the narration and story. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  510 ratings  ·  162 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2)
Juliana (Midnight Book Blog)
I think there is an audience that will really enjoy this book, but it doesn’t include me.

Let me start by saying, although this is labeled as a standalone, if you haven’t either listened to the Dark Sessions podcast or read the first book, I recommend doing that first. A Neon Darkness was my introduction to the world, and I feel that was one of the biggest things stopping me for really enjoying it. This book is also labeled as an “origin story,” and without the word “hero” or “villain” in front
andrea ✨
Feb 17, 2020 marked it as to-read
now wait a DANG MINUTE. why was i out here thinking that this book was gonna follow the same characters and storyline as the first one???

i guess i was very mistaken on that. whooPS. i was really hoping i would get to see more of caleb and adam and i really went through the whole first book thinking there was going to be a sequel to their story but OH WELL i’m still excited for this book either way!

although now that i know there isn’t going to be a sequel to their story i’m realizing how many un
Thank you to MacMillan Audio for an ALC of this in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Y'all I still have no idea how to feel about this book! A Neon Darkness focuses on Damien's story. But before he was Damien, he was Robert Gorham running from his past and a power he doesn't quite understand. But in LA, Robert meets a group of Unusuals like him and he wants to be accepted into their group, so he is. But as the friends get to know each other, how much of it is real friendship
Jan 15, 2020 marked it as to-read
Ahh... it has a name!!
I repeat it has a name!!

*waits impatiently for cover*

A NEON DARKNESS!! I love it. Let me get it tattooed on me. only joking, I am way too scared of tattoos and long term commitments. But I do love it a lot!!

I need the book!!
08.28.2020: WOOOHHHH. This was so good! Just like the the first book in the series, this was such a character driven story. We see the characters just talking to each other, trying to process their emotions, trauma, and other shit. More than ever, we see the main character slowly turning into the villain that he is. There's no high-stakes or super adventurous plot, instead we see a lonely, troubled kid looking for love and acceptance yet fails to see what these things truly mean. Also, I loved t ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who want to read emotional rollercoaster
Recommended to Raf by: Netgalley
✨✨8.5 stars out of 10✨✨
God... My heart... It hurts so much :( (view spoiler)

Keywords: science fiction, slice of life, superpower, found family, morally grey, young adult, LGBT+, muslim representative, POC representative; trigger warning: mental health and slight mention of suicidal thoughts

I get an e-ARC of this book from Netgalley, as an exchange of honest review.

Even though it's a second book, storywise A Neon Darkness is preq
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Having gotten into the world of Bright Sessions after reading The Infinite Noise, this was a book I instantly anticipated once I found out about its release. Thanks to NetGalley and Lauren Shippen, I got to read it five months before its official release and I’ve got a lot to say about it. You can read it as a standalone but you probably won’t see the full scale of the development (or sort of reversed development) of Damien if you are not familiar
E-ARC provided by the publisher (Tor Teen) through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotations are not final. Thank you so much!

"I want that affection so badly, but in the cold light of day, that desire feels unseemly. I hate that dark little part of me that craves comfort, craves a soft hand and a warm body, but as much as I despise it, I can't destroy it. It rules me, and I rule everyone else."

"It's more power, more satisfying control, than I've ever experienced in my life,
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. A HUGE thanks to Macmillan- Tom Doherty Associates, Tor Teen for the chance to read this book.

A neon darkness is the second Bright Session novel and, since I loved The infinite noise so much, I was over the moon when my request got accepted.

A neon darkness focus on Robert Gorham (Damien, who was introduced briefly in the first novel) and his power and life. Robert has the power of persuasion. He can get anything he wants, peopl
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtqia, arc, ya, fat-rep
Oof, this was exactly as frustrating and twisted as I expected it to be – and unfortunately just as unsatisfying character-development wise.
Definitely stays true to it’s subtitle “What if the villain of your story is you?”

Read the full review on the blog!

Content warnings include: abduction, electrocution, murder, internalized fatphobia, underage drinking and drug use, theft, unconsensual kissing, coercion. Mentions of: suicide attempt, torture, abandonment.

I received an ARC and reviewed honestl
Don't forget to check out my blog!

[I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book I was kindly given by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Robert Gorham has a superpower we'd all probably die to have - people do what he wants. Literally. This story is marketed like a typical superhero novel - a guy with special abilities comes to town, meets other guys with special abilities, and they fight evil together. Well, that's not at all w
Mar 30, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: netgalley, read-next
I'm pretty sure this one is going to rip my heart out... I never finished the podcast, but Damien is one of my favorite characters. ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
[ I received a digital arc for an honest review]

A Neon Darkness
is the second book in The Bright Sessions series by Lauren Shippen. It's a queer YA fantasy about teens with abilities they can't control and a whole lot of baggage that they really need to work through.

Since I read book 1 in the series I will admit I had expectations. They weren't necessarily high, but I was hoping we would get more of the same characters. After I realized that wasn't the case I was still hoping for characters that
Feb 21, 2021 added it
I feel conflicted. Maybe I need to listen to the podcast but since I loved the first book without having done so, I assumed I could do the same here. It's not that I didn't like this book, because I did. I enjoyed the writing and the friend group, even though the MC made me want to scream. It's definitely one of those stories with an unlikeable main character who gets on your every nerve but you cant help but root for them to learn and be better.

I feel like my biggest issue with this one was th
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars

A Neon Darkness is presented as a stand-alone in this series, but I suggest you to read The Infinite Noise first to have a more solid introduction to this world inhabited by Atypicals. Moreover, I think that listening to The Bright Sessions podcast could give even more insights. I haven’t had the pleasure to listen to it yet, but after liking these two novels I’ll surely give it a try to discover more about these magnetic characters.
This one was a very enjoyable book and I loved how th
The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
DNF @ 50%

This book is very boring, and not much has happened up to this point. Also the characters are not relatable at all. I have lost interest.
Arianna Scruggs
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia-plus-rep
A neon darkness, in contrast to the infinite noise, tells a story that takes place before the events in the bright sessions podcast.

It is the story of Damien, a young man with the ability to make people want what he wants. He can basically control people. It is the story of his childhood and the way he (tries to) make friends.

I think I liked this one more than the infinite noise, simply because it is more surprising. It also has a very different, darker, tone.

You read this story knowing where
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-stand-alone
Thank you Netgalley for giving me this free ebook arc in exchange for an honest review.

A Neon Darkness is a villain origin story that gives you an intensive look into the main character's motives and desires. You discover the paradox that is Robert- a boy gifted with persuasion. He can get anything he desires expect the one thing he desires the most, connection. And yet he fears that without his powers he wouldn't be able to get it at all. I have always loved psychology, and getting inside the
Kirstin (chooselovebooks)
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“That’s how it works - Damien wants something and you want it too.” - Lauren Shippen, The Infinite Noise

Oh man! I am so excited to be talking about this book! A Neon Darkness takes place before the events of The Bright Sessions podcast and The Infinite Noise, so technically you COULD read it without having caught up on everything else. However, I still totally suggest immersing yourself in the other content (even if just because it’s super awesome!)
In this villain-origin-story prequel, we follow
T.M. Smith
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

Damien, a young man that can make people want what he wants, is slightly sadistic, never taking responsibility for his own actions because to do so would quite possibly crack his dark and evil soul. And yet.... you can't help be sympathize with this guy. That's how fantastic a job Lauren Shippen did with this story.

This world Shippen created was amazing and vivid, the characters were three dimensional, obviously flawed though some were just trying to survive,
I thought this was good but I was hoping it would explore Damien as a character more and that we would get to see how his mind works. In reality it was more about him meeting some people and eventually getting let down like what happened in the podcast. It was a bit too predictable for my taste, I didn’t really like the side characters, and I was hoping it was going to be a bit more dark and emotional like the podcast was. One thing I really liked though was the last chapter which was great and ...more
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
You should probably listen to Shippen's podcast "Dark Sessions" before reading this book.

Anyway, I didn't enjoy the story. There's no character development. Neither the main character Robert, nor the secondary characters really develop over the space of the novel. The plot is very slow and repetitive.
Tsana Dolichva
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen is another spinoff novel based on characters from the Bright Sessions podcast. I previously read and reviewed The Infinite Noise in the same world. The two books only really have the setting in common and can be read in any order. A Neon Darkness is actually a prequel to the story in the podcast, following the younger version of one character in particular.

This wasn't exactly an easy book to read. Not because of the writing style — that was perfectly adequate —
Juan Manuel Sarmiento
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2-5-stars
A Neon Darness is a book that you might as well enjoy best if you previously listened to the author's podcast "The Bright Sessions". This book and the previous one, The infinite noise, are based on those podcasts although they can be read apart.
I hadn't listened to them so I had a hard time trying to figure out the characters' perspectives and way of acting.
Particularly Robert Gorham.

Robert, or Damien, is a very deeply troubled youngster. He falls in the anti-villain category and hast the abilit
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it

Rating: 4.5 stars

"I think about being happy and whether that's something I've ever felt. I'm not sure it is, but I think it must be something close to this."

First of all, that if you haven't already, go listen to The Bright Sessions podcast. This book and the one that came before it are both novelizations of that podcast, but while The Infinite Noise covers a story that's already been told on the show, A Neon Darkness is a whole new story. All that said, you don't have to have listened t
Tracey S
Nov 10, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

If you have listened to The Bright Sessions podcast, you may be as excited as me to know this is the "origin story" of Damien. If you are not familiar with The Bright Sessions, I'm not sure you would get too much out of this book - although I HIGHLY recommend the podcast, it's excellent :)
We learn in this spin off how Robert came into the name and persona of the villainous Damien and it is a wild ride, with a litany of new and interesting unusual/atypical characters. Occasionally heart
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
*deep breath*


First of all. Content warnings. Emotional abuse, manipulation, maybe some others?

Secondly. I love the world of The Bright Sessions. I devoured the audio drama. I loved Infinite Noise. That said. I did not love this book, and I'm not sure it's possible? But at the same time, it does what it does well. This is a dark, depressing read, so make sure you're in the right head space before jumping in.

This is the story of Robert Gorhman. Of Damien, and how he became the perso
Julia Bri
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
2.5 stars which I’m super sad about. I’m usually very generous with my ratings but this one let me down. :( I reallyyyyy wanted to like this because Damien’s character really drew me in while I listened to The Bright Sessions and I loved that we got a backstory and got more of an understanding of why he is the way he is but dang I wish this was better (I’ll still love and recommend TBS until the day I die though)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)
  • Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1)
  • All the Light We Cannot See
  • The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
  • Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
  • Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
  • As Far As You'll Take Me
  • Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • The Deep
  • Yes No Maybe So
  • Raybearer (Raybearer, #1)
  • A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1)
  • Piranesi
  • Opposite of Always
  • Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
  • Darius the Great Deserves Better (Darius the Great, #2)
See similar books…
Lauren Shippen is a writer most known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce Passenger List before founding Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of th ...more

Other books in the series

The Bright Sessions (3 books)
  • The Infinite Noise (The Bright Sessions, #1)
  • Some Faraway Place (The Bright Sessions #3)

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
132 likes · 21 comments