The Light Side of the Moon by Elizabeth Guizzetti

“One Earth was a stark place too, but we’re building something that will change the destiny of generations.”

– Elizabeth Guizzetti, The Light Side Of The Moon

If you’re looking for a nice attempt to mix science fiction with reality, The Light of the Moon is for you. Set around 3062, idealists seek to create a utopia on another planet beyond Earth. As Earth is slowly caressing diverse problems, from a political to an economical scale, a way is found for individuals to travel light years away onto the abandoned Lunar Colony Serenitatis. Although this was an opportunity to create a utopia that every citizen dreamed of, Kipos (the planet in question) serves as a prison colony more than anything. It gives prisoners that are transported there regularly a second chance while also giving the government the opportunity to deal with overpopulation, with life-long sentences and with violence among captives. The story follows the adventures of a couple of characters as they seek to establish their lives on Kipos for different purposes. Seeking a future that is bound to promise great things, these protagonists learn great lessons as they grow up and figure themselves out through hardship and perseverance. Utopia remains their ultimate goal.

“Life has no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties…Or at least that’s what my father says. He loves the ancient philosopher Samuel Johnson.”

– Elizabeth Guizzetti, The Light Side Of The Moon

What was truly intriguing about this book is how it managed to make this story set in a far, far future seem very realistic. Every line contributed in making the setting seem easily conceivable. Making use of some great references of classic authors to quote, of known locations throughout the world and modern day problems, Elizabeth Guizzetti explores the dystopia genre in her own way. The book has a couple different protagonists that live their own adventures without ever crossing paths with the other characters until later in the story. You get a great idea of what drives every character, of that they’ve lived through and what their personas are like. Lunar Colony Serenitatis and the search for a utopia are the sole common denominators in the lives of all these characters.

Ella Sethdottier is definitely the main character in this tale. A very young girl that you follow around as she grows up and discovers life. You’re given her perception of life and get to contemplate her ability to reason and rationalize. Right from the start, you find out about her abusive father who disappeared very young, her very ill mother, her two brothers and her need to work as a child in a factory in order to earn a living (at least enough to get food). As she confronts hardship, she finds hope in the Lunar Colony. She hears of potential job opportunities on that planet and goes on a lonesome interplanetary mission. Alongside her side of the story, readers also see Ian Whitlach’s story. Medical student and son of a doctor, Ian sees Kipos as a land of billions of opportunities. He sees this Lunar Colony as a potential utopia where he could build his life and establish himself. Although his parents strongly disagree with his desire and dream, his story leads him to a life that he most certainly did not expect. The Light Side of the Moon also mixes in an android and its family’s quest to evolve. Seeing in Kipos the opportunity to get closer to the sun, their source of energy and life, these characters wish to travel to this new prison colony. Finally, there’s Yvonne Tallier, the woman who made the transportation from Earth to Lunar Colony Serenitatis possible. Throughout the book, you also acquaint with her side of the story as she tries to make a utopia happen on this new planet. You’ll learn about her husband and her family as well as the struggles she faces to find people to fill in the open job opportunities on Kipos. Basically, a ruler with a very big burden to carry on a planet that doesn’t have the same gravity as Earth. Should help making the burden feel lighter right?

“Keep your nose out of everyone’s business. A person without prudence is a ship without an anchor.”

– Elizabeth Guizzetti, The Light Side Of The Moon

Although the story sounded very promising and seemed like it had a lot of fascinating themes it could visit, I ended up thinking that it slowly and suddenly went off course and fell into an abyss; or maybe another universe. Right off the bat, I thought the climax was very anticlimactic. I would even go on to say that the climax was an inch a way from not even being one. And we all know how inches matter. In fact, after the supposed climax, the story fell into something romantic more than anything. Important themes such as criminal rehabilitation or education were touched upon but nothing more. These elements that could’ve served as great lessons in building utopias were overshadowed by relationship issues and marriage problems. I find this really unfortunate since The Light Side of the Moon had great ideas but weren’t explored further. The focus was more around the main character and her desire to have an impact on other people’s lives, to grow up into a respected woman and to honor the memories of her loved ones. Larger themes related to dystopias could’ve been interesting to invoke and affect the lives of Ellie and company.

I thought that it was really amazing how Elizabeth Guizzetti portrayed Ellie and is able to get readers to empathize for her. It was a brilliant idea to use this character as a vessel to divulge the setting of the story. As she learns through her education with Mr. Johnson about the world she lives in, readers find themselves learning as well. Looking to travel to the transportation center to Kipos Ellie’s whole adventure seemed to be a recipe for disaster and she always seemed to live something dangerous that was meant to be a lesson in the long run. As she goes on her quest to leave Earth and attempt to find a life worth living for on Kipos, you get to understand Ellie a lot better and see how she absorbs knowledge like a sponge. She learns from her mistakes and tries to adapt to every situation she faces. Big kudos to the author for working really hard on this character.

However, as you progress through the story, you come to realize that some characters are completely forgotten or barely mentioned. Especially Mr. Johnson (basically Ellie’s mentor when she was young and on Earth) and her brothers. You also realize that the androids side of the story remains a sad mystery. For a character that could bring great depth to the storyline, they were barely developed. We’re never entertained with more information on their purpose, on what evolving really consisted or on their back story. I believe their story could’ve been a great asset to the plot by showing readers the differences between humans and androids and the conception of utopias and dystopias. I thought the adventures on Kipos were also going on a faster pace than the rest of the book. As if too many pages were put into everything before that part of the story, a need to fast-forward through the last part of the tale rose. I have to say that after the climax, everything felt like a mess. Great ideas were touched upon but everything seemed to have went all over the place. Even if reader’s indulged the romance twist to the whole book towards the end, I believe the problems and the main relationship issues that happened were poor, weak. It was hard to believe and slowly deconstructed characters that seemed to have been much more interesting in the beginning. However, the story does have some fun twists here and there. They managed to aid in captivating the reader’s attention and keep on reading to find out what other adventures were afoot.

“Perhaps, we need more idealists and fewer jaded politicians. Victor Hugo once said ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison.’”

– Elizabeth Guizzetti, The Light Side Of The Moon

The Light Side of the Moon is a fun read. It puts a spell on you to keep you flipping through the pages. Some characters are pretty well developed and the setting is without a doubt captivating. This science fiction touches upon some really interesting themes. From education to sexual intercourse to family to euthanasia, Elizabeth Guizzetti visits a vast and diverse array of themes. Although the story seemed to have lost its purpose and plunged into a romantic tale between characters, the author has a great set of writing skills and manages to put fiction and reality beautifully. The Light Side of the Moon is a standalone tale that anyone can jump into. The author also released a novel before this huge chunk of literature set in the same universe as this story.

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My overall rating: ★★★☆☆/

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