Radiant by Ashley Bustamante {Color Theory; 2}

“Radiant did not disappoint! The same colorful, magical vibes are back!”

Review by Erin Phillips

Secrets Come in Every Shade

After the introduction of Yellow magic in a society accustomed to only Red and Blue magic, the world inside the barrier has become more complicated than anyone imagined. Ava, Elm, and the former students of Prism navigate life in hiding. They face discord, secrets, betrayal, and danger that looms ever closer as the Benefactors narrow in on their hideaway.

Ava is determined to keep everyone protected, even at the cost of her own safety. She explores dangerous aspects of her new Mentalist abilities—against Elm’s dire warnings.

Tensions escalate when a new visitor arrives claiming to know a way out of the barrier. While this may be the only way to escape the Benefactors, what awaits them on the outside? Will they gain allies or make an entirely new set of enemies?

Release Date: 5/9/2023

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 304

“It does no good to dwell on the what ifs,” Elm tells me. “But you can choose to make the best of this fresh start.”

What a ride! When I finished Vivid almost a year ago, I was so sad to leave Ava and Elm behind, and beyond excited to find out what would happen next for the world of Magus. And Radiant did not disappoint! The same colorful, magical vibes are back! If anything, I have the urge to read these books over and over until book 3 is finally released.

Exploring a rising rebellion was also fun, at times reminding me of the political intrigue in Mockingjay. Rebellions are always dangerous, but the worst thing that can happen, is when it appears someone is destroying everything…from the inside. Starting off with a sneaky saboteur put me on the edge of my seat, and the twists and turns from there kept be staying up late to turn pages and find out what would happen next!

It should be noted that my favorite moment in every single story is the false victory, and I love spotting it and feeling smart because I’m like “something bad is gonna happen…this is too good.” But this one totally caught me by surprise!

(slight spoilers for Book 1 ahead)

“It still feels odd to wear my favorite color instead of the red that would be expected from an Augmentor. Strange that such a small thing would feel so rebellious.”

Radiant picks up shortly after Vivid ends, with Ava still processing and learning how to live with Yellow magic. While she knows the truth, it was really relatable to see her struggle with believing it in every moment, and her overthinking was spot on! Her character arc was so authentic, a rollercoaster rather than a line, and readers will easily see themselves in her.

Ava’s dream-hopping was also really fun, as we got to not only learn more about Selene, but it was a powerful representation of how anything can influence our thoughts if we aren’t careful. It was very cool how Selene’s influence over Ava’s mental state becomes a key to fighting against Prism, a great encouragement that even our deepest, darkest struggles can be used to grow us.

“If it were up to me, I would turn all the world to dust in order to keep you by my side. To hold you close always and banish anyone who even so much as thought about taking you away from me.”

Elm was, of course, absolutely wonderful again! He is so whimsical and charming, always able to see the bright side and bring sunshine where he goes. A true beacon of hope! It really hit me this time around that Elm reminds me so much of Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle! Which of course made me love him more.

Apart from Ava and Elm, every character was a delight, and even the smallest characters made a huge impact when they were present. Like Garren and Gemma, who each get one scene but I loved them fully by the end of it and I got so excited when they would show up again for a brief moment! Skye was also a character who was only in a few chapters, but she won my heart!

Side characters like Brie, Nikki, Blanca, Jazz, and Blake were also favorites of mine. (Does it count if every character is your favorite?) I really loved how everyone had something. This wasn’t a story centered entirely around Ava, or even Prism and Magus, but each individual character has a journey. I can’t even talk about Samantha–holy cow I hated her so much in the beginning.

“Just because someone has the ability to do something doesn’t mean they should or would.”

The themes in Radiant brilliantly build upon Vivid. Characters struggle against and grow in trusting one another, working as a team, and sacrificing to do what’s right. I especially appreciated the conflict the characters face once they leave the barrier: the value of sacrificing your own comfort and security for those who can’t defend themselves–if we don’t protect the weak just to protect ourselves, eventually no one will be safe.

“There are many more flowers in your future.”

Radiant is fast-paced but with plenty of time to breathe, to spend time with Elm and Ava, and to explore the whimsical world of Magus. It is the second book in the Color Theory series and comes out on May 9, so if you haven’t read book one–Vivid–yet, grab your copy today and get reading! This is a series you don’t want to miss.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 2 out of 10.
2. Very mild action (mentions common injuries without gruesome detail).

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 2 out of 10.
2.  Mild content (holding hands and mild kissing).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 0 out of 10.
0. None.

Other Trigger Warnings:


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