Vivid by Ashley Bustamante (Color Theory; 1)

Book Blurb:


Ava Locke dives into the mysteries of forbidden Yellow magic and discovers a dark path filled with secrets and injustice.

When Ava Locke was five years old, she began a journey to join the Benefactors—the leaders of the magical continent of Magus. Twelve years later, she unwittingly started down the road to betray them.

On Magus where colors fuel magical abilities, yellow is banned in an effort to protect people from its mind-controlling capabilities. When a rogue Yellow magic-user named Elm escapes imprisonment Ava becomes innocently fascinated with his story. Once this mysterious Elm shows up at her school, Ava pushes her interest to the next level by helping him evade the Benefactors. Ava grows increasingly conflicted as her intrigue leads her down a dark road of secrets about her world. As she learns more about Yellow magic’s potential to control its victims, Ava now must question whether her rash decisions are all her own or if someone else is pulling the strings.

I received this eARC for free from the publisher. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.

Erin’s Review:

Vivid by Ashley Bustamante, book one in the Color Theory series from Enclave Escape, is a timely story that is as enchanting as it is powerful. Full of whimsy and magic, Vivid is a colorful tale that combines the academic, dystopian, and fantasy genres to create something reminescent of Wonderland, Oz, and the Winx Club (for us 90s babies). It is a exciting story from beginning to end, a fast-paced and easy read that is as appropiate for all ages as it is entertaining.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to ask question.”

I felt drawn to Vivid for so many reasons as I read the story. I kept thinking about it and eager to get back to it, and not just because I wanted to know what would happen next! (Now that is rare for me!) Ashley Bustamante has truly created a captivating world that stands out as being entirely unique (reminding me of Caraval by Stephanie Garber at times) while still being so familiar it could be our own world. And it so many ways, it was! I truly appreciated her abliity to marry vibrant creativity with realism in the world of Magnus.

The characters were another draw for me. I related to Ava so much, especially with her desire to achieve and make her superiors proud of her (that dreaded people-pleasing!), which is so strong it causes her to sometimes doubt her gut. While at times it was frustrating for her to constantly wonder if she should trust Elm or Selene, it was also relatable because I saw myself in that struggle. Whether Ashley intended it or not, she represented what gaslighting feels like extremely accurately, building compassion for Ava in the struggle to discern the truth and hopeful satisfication when the lies are exposed.

Elm was also a truly fun character, and very instrumental in pulling Ava out of her usual routine simply because he is so unpredictable! He reminded me a little bit of Legend (seriously Caraval fans need to check this one out!) with his wild and whimsical magic. I was always pleasantly surprised by his “pranks”, but also appreciated that he was self-aware of his own weaknesses and flaws. His relationship with Ava was the most adorable thing ever, but also really helped the pacing of the story from getting to heavy too soon.

“Either outcome would result in a world without Ava. And who, dear Ava, could ever possibly want that?”

Vivid also has some very fun twists and turns, starting off with a bang right at the beginning! The tension was handled perfectly with carefully rising stakes, so that you can never fully relax but you also have room to breathe.

And at the core, Vivid is a story about bigotry, discernment, and truth. Being able to separate the truth from the lies can be tricky at times, but things are not always what they seem, and discernment is a valuable tool. Sometimes we have to be willing to give up what we know to discover what is actually true, and nothing is more important than the truth: the truth about the world, the truth about others, and the truth about ourselves.

Overall, this book definitely deserves all five stars! Vivid has a whimsical world filled with fantastic characters (and an adorable romance), placed in an exciting plot that all contribute to a heartfelt story. Looking for something fresh to read next? Grab Vivid, releasing May 17!


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