Well, Bright Universe fans, the time has come. The third book, Some Faraway Place, is here, and it is time to prepare for the emotional hangover that is to come from Rose’s story and the trilogy coming to an end.
The author is director, writer, storyteller, and phenomenal playlist creator Lauren Shippen. She is a writer and director on the current hit podcast Bridgewater and previously worked on the podcasts Surviving Hawkins, Passenger List, The Bright Sessions, The AM Archives, and The College Tapes. Nerds & Beyond was fortunate enough to get an advanced reader copy through NetGalley to review. So, let’s dreamdive in, shall we?
This book was written in a truly unique way that helped separate each character’s narrative of what was going on. Without the writing style Shippen used, it would have been easy to get lost and not know whose thoughts or descriptions you were reading. The way it was presented, you got to hear about the same situations and how each character perceived them differently. Shippen used the formats of an online chat group for Atypicals — with a familiar handle making an appearance, journaling, letter writing, and AO3 text chat.
*Spoilers beyond this point*
“Rose Atkinson’s mother can see the future. Her father can move things he doesn’t touch. Her brother Aaron can read minds. And Rose, well, she makes a mean spaghetti Bolognese.”
Rose Atkinson is a typical 19-year-old teenager who loves rollerblading and everything that involves cooking and dreams about becoming a chef. But at home, all she wants is to fit in with her family, who are Atypical. That means they have abilities — like mind reading, telekinesis, and premonitions — and she doesn’t. After a rollerblading accident that lands her in the emergency room, she passes out in the ER with the bonus of meeting a cute girl. Another time, she is in the kitchen talking to her mother; she starts to feel light-headed and passes out. She shrugs it off as narcolepsy. But it is not until she enters her brother Aaron’s dream and he remembers that they figure out Rose is also Atypical. That’s right; Rose gets her dream to be Atypical like the rest of her family. But is it all she thought it would be?
After her initial visit to The AM, she learns more about the Atypical world thanks to someone she recognizes on her discharge day. She recalls seeing his face in a window during a dream she was in, so she approaches him. You’ll never guess who is back in the picture? Damien! They meet for coffee, and Damien answers Rose’s questions when it comes to being Atypical, other Atypicals, and about The AM. Some of those answers send her on a journey where she meets some other familiar Bright Sessions faces.
Speaking of familiar faces, for those who think Rose’s name sounds familiar, that is because this is not the first time we have meet her. Rose was a secondary character in The Bright Session podcast during a few episodes, the most memorable being the musical episode, episode 50 – seriously, go check it out; the whole cast and Shippen sing beautifully.
In that journey, Rose doesn’t always make the right choices. Rose violates Emily’s privacy and dreamdives into her dreams and uses the information she learns to be the girlfriend Emily deserves, the same as her brother’s dreams. Despite the fact that multiple people warned her, Rose also spends a lot more time with Damien creating a special bond that is meaningful for them both. Ultimately, the more time she spends diving into dreams, the more she wants to devote to sleep than being awake. But Rose feels the pull to keep going back in the dream world where she can control the landscape and her surroundings, ignoring her problems. Like a drug, she’s addicted to it.
Some Faraway Place is a character-driven novel full of emotions. This book had me crying and wanting to reach in and hug Rose and even Damien. Just wait until you get to his final two letters. Just thinking about them gets me choked up. Not to mention the intimate moment she shared with her dad in the dream world, which was beautiful. An honest conversation between father and daughter where Rose apologizes for not being there and her father says, “Don’t be sorry. Just promise me that you won’t dream your life away,” pulls at your heartstrings and showcases the powerful emotions that Shippen’s words inflict on readers.
While it was bittersweet to be reading the final book in the trilogy, it was for sure worth the wait to see everyone’s stories come full circle. Like Shippen’s previous novels, I found it difficult to put down as I got sucked into Rose’s world. Before reading this book, I highly recommend reading the previous two, The Infinite Noise (check out our review) and A Neon Darkness (check out our review), as there are many mentions of things that took place during those timelines that the book took place and would cause someone who hasn’t read them be lost. I enjoyed that the cover art for all three novels was done by the same person, Victo Ngai, and that the font style remained the same, tying them together nicely.