A Ray Red

Young Adult - Coming of Age
188 Pages
Reviewed on 04/25/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

A Ray Red by Art Elbin is the first installment in the author's Soul Rays series. It's been classified as a young adult coming of age, but there are so many fascinating elements of science fiction and fantasy that it's hard to fit it into any single genre. Arr is a reborn following a mistake, at his own request and with the approval of the council. He begins in nothingness—grey murk—pushing through barriers as he learns and grows and tries to come to terms with and understand what it means to be a red. He meets other colors from different levels and one in particular, an orange named Ora, with whom he feels a connection. However, a true connection can only be made if she chooses him also...he, a lowly red, with so much to master before making the ultimate transformation. “We are all soul rays for human life on earth,” Jaye explains.

Art Elbin has created a wholly original book that is almost immediately as bright and bold as the soul rays themselves. A Ray Red takes the concept of origin and really twists it into a surreal blend of what is cosmic and supernatural, and what is safe and human. At its core is a fierce determination to survive and another powerful cause that is either an underscoring of this determination or the source itself that galvanizes the transition...and that power is emotion. Feelings. Maybe even love. Elbin is somehow able to take a deeply complicated, supernatural concept and create a comfortable, easy, and entertaining read. If you'd told me a week ago I'd be reading a book where the main protagonist was a color, I'd have called you thick. Yet here we are. I did read it and, even more, I genuinely enjoyed it. I'm excited to see where the series leads.

Christian Sia

A Ray Red by Art Elbin is a unique tale that seems to take place in a soul. The protagonist is known by the color Red and as the story begins, he is facing the council for having failed in a unique mission. But is he only identified by his color? No. He has a new consciousness of identity: “My first memory is an awareness—I AM.” Follow this being as he moves through light in his quest for more. Then he meets her and is thrilled that she likes his name. But her color is orange and she seems to belong to another. Her color soothes him and he wants her badly. Can he ever have her?

I have read books with strong spiritual and metaphysical underpinnings but hardly ever have I read one with a setting that resembles pure consciousness. At times it can be confusing as the reader wants to relate to specific places, but it seems as though the narrative is taking place in the universal mind. The writing is unique, lyrical and evocative, especially when the narrator plunges into a stream of consciousness. The poetic character of the writing makes it enjoyable and it is apt for the romance that evolves in the story. The chapters are very short, with paragraphs that feature single lines and very short poetic utterances. The most intense moment of the narrative is when he meets her.

A Ray Red is a novel that has originality and I enjoyed the concept of self as a shade of light and how one soul evolves through different realms of light in the quest for more life. There is suspense and although it is hard to identify with the life of the protagonist, it isn't difficult to relate to him. The writing is simple yet bold and I enjoyed this author's unique sense of creativity. This book left me feeling as though I had just had an intense dream.

K.C. Finn

A Ray Red is a work of conceptual coming of age fiction penned by author Art Elbin. This highly abstract and often poetic work encompasses the author’s concept of soul rays, beings with different colors which pertain to their souls, and how these elements originate and are trained before being born for their life on Earth. We follow a ray of red on its journey in the light spectrum, learning, growing and leveling up as he experiences different aspects, thought patterns and ideas for perhaps the first time. Through it all, there is the concept of ‘her’, the one that the red ray knows is for him, and wonders whether she could ever choose him for her own.

This is a highly conceptual work which won’t suit all readers, but for those seeking something emotive, different and fast-paced, it will make a really thought-provoking read. I enjoyed the typography particularly, as the formatting of the prose and poetic sections is really brought to life with the arrangement of lines, letter spacing, use of color and capitalization. It makes the fiction sound as though it is alive, which is a clever technique that enhances the bizarre, abstract nature of the work. Whilst the content and its philosophy are sometimes a little hard to keep track of, the red ray that we follow is a consistent character to whom author Art Elbin gives a lot of emotion and personality, endearing him to us on his learning journey. Overall, A Ray Red was unlike anything I’ve read this year, highly unique.