We Light Up the Sky

Pedro, Luna, and Rafa may attend Fairfax High School together in Los Angeles, but they run in separate spheres. Pedro is often told that he’s “too much” and seeks refuge from his home life in a local drag bar. Luna is pretending to go along with the popular crowd but is still grieving the unexpected passing of her beloved cousin Tasha. Then there’s Rafa, the quiet new kid who is hiding the fact that his family is homeless.

But Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find themselves thrown together when an extraterrestrial visitor lands in their city and takes the form of Luna’s cousin Tasha. As the Visitor causes destruction wherever it goes, the three teens struggle to survive and warn others of what’s coming–because this Visitor is only the first of many. But who is their true enemy–this alien, or their fellow humans? Can Pedro, Luna, and Rafa find a way to save a world that has repeatedly proven it doesn’t want to save them?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Lilliam Rivera examines the days before a War of the Worlds-inspired alien invasion in this captivating and chilling new novel.


"An engrossing and exceptionally relevant pre-apocalyptic tale that begs for a sequel."

Kirkus, Starred Review!

"Sharp social commentary, on-point humor (“I’m not mentally prepared for this part of the dystopia”), and a tender exploration of grief add heart and depth to a novel that’s just right for fans of Attack the Block."

Publishers Weekly

"A heart-pounding, eccentric and emotionally complex sci-fi."

Shelf Awareness

"A nonstop run-for-your life kind of narrative."


"More than just a riveting alien-invasion story, though, this novel deftly weaves commentary on colonialism, police violence, and racial injustice into the chaos, leaving the main characters to wonder if the only people worth saving may be one another."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"We Light Up the Sky is still an action packed SF that forces us to examine who we are at the end. It’s definitely a must read for YA SF!"

Utopia State of Mind

"The short chapters and sharply focused narrative made it easy to pick up and put down, and the realistic characters kept me eager to come back for the next chapter"

The Story Sanctuary

“We Light Up the Sky is an unflinching look at a Los Angeles that already feels dystopian to marginalized communities. Rivera’s expert hand guides science-fiction and the contemporary lives of three teens in a race for survival.”

Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of Labyrinth Lost

“Intense Angeleno realism all of a sudden morphs into even more intense science fiction, and you will read as fast as you can to see how these great young people deal with it. A marvelous story about how we are all being flung into the future unprepared, and have to hang together as best we can.”

Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy