MMGM Sixth Grader Review: A WISH IN THE DARK by Christina Soontornvat

I’m back with another MMGM review by my sixth grader this week. On March 24, we spent much of the day enjoying the digital launch events for Christina Soontornvat’s A WISH IN THE DARK. She had everything from a sketch-off with Max Brallier (LAST KIDS ON EARTH series) to weird stuff in her house with Stuart Gibbs (SPY SCHOOL and other series). If you’re interested, you can still find those on her YouTube page here. Authors are finding a lot of great ways to connect with readers while everyone’s stuck at home!

I’m actually halfway through the book and really enjoying it myself, but since my son already finished it and he’s the target audience, I’m going to let him do this week’s review again. But first, here’s the cover and description.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina SoontornvatAll light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

So now I’ll turn it over to my sixth grader.

I really liked how A WISH IN THE DARK displayed a fun, magical-ish world that’s nothing like anything we have here. But it has real people with real desires and it feels true.

It has some very good character development. The main character, Pong, was born in a prison, and the main leader there believes “Trees drop their fruit straight down” so children have to stay in the prison until they’re 13. Pong knew that was unfair and started out always protesting, but he developed into a more mature character. He learns how to focus on fixing the things he can.

There’s also the other main character, Nok, who is from one of the rich families. Her dad is the warden of the prison that Pong is in. She doesn’t see the unfairness of the rules because her family is wealthy and the rules were made by those families. So before Pong fully develops into his character, he escapes, and Nok starts trying to track him down. She goes from being kind of inflexible with the rules to realizing some things aren’t fair and that some families can’t do anything else. She realizes she needs to fight back too.

I really liked the setting. It happens in this world full of different lights and canals. It’s definitely different from the cities we have, but there’s also other places that are peaceful villages and temples up in the mountain. It’s a good mix of fun and peaceful, and the description is very good.

From what I’ve read so far, I second all of his points. The description is fantastic, and I’m really enjoying the characters. So definitely check this book out!

Since my son averages four to five books every week and has extra time on his hands at the moment, I’ll probably have another one of these for you next week–unless my fourth grader decides she wants in on it 😉.

Responses to “MMGM Sixth Grader Review: A WISH IN THE DARK by Christina Soontornvat”

  1. Greg Pattridge

    Such an engaging plot presented in this book. The review covered important aspects of character and setting. The descriptions convinced me I need to add this book to my list of future reads. I gave the young reviewer an A last week but can’t do the same this time around. Instead, I’m awarding him double A’s! One for organization and another for the extra effort. Great work!

  2. Natalie Aguirre

    Thanks for the awesome review. The setting sounds fantastic and the magic is different from what I’ve read. Looking forward to more reviews.

  3. Karen Faszold

    Great job Luke, very well written thoughtful review.

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Jenni

    I really enjoyed your son’s review! You had me at Les Mis set in Thailand. It sounds like my kind of book!

  5. Completely Full Bookshelf

    What an excellent post! It’s always great to hear kids’ thoughts about books! Also, I’ve heard a lot of praise about this book in particular—it sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great post!

  6. Patricia Tilton

    Enjoyed your son’s review! It was well done! I have this one on my shelf to read and review, so you’ve made me eager to read the story Thanks for sharing.

  7. agardenofbooks2

    Such an absolutely gorgeous cover. It is so colorful and charming and definitely would tempt me to buy it solely based on cover alone. The review was terrific. I know a 6th grader myself who has helped me review, but nothing like the review here.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Yes, the cover is beautiful! And the descriptions inside are too. I’ve finished reading since I posted his review, and I agree completely with his assessment :).

  8. rosihollinbeck

    I really like that you are getting your kids involved in reviewing, and they are doing such a good job! Thanks for telling me about this one. It’s not my kind of book, but I have a granddaughter who might like it. Thanks for the post.

  9. Kim Aippersbach

    Great review, and sounds like a fascinating book. Adding it to my TBR. Thank you! (I’m still waiting for my niece to give me another review for my blog: it’s great to get the target audience’s perspective.)


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