Scott Westerfeld – Midnighters: Touching Darkness
Read my review of book:
1. The Secret Hour
Length: 330 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Horror
Started / Finished: 18 September 2010
Where did it come from? Borders.
Why do I have it? I was bad and bought the entire series before reading the first book.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 03 April 2009.
The power to kill
ancient evil won’t help stop
the human bad guys.
Summary: Now that Jessica’s discovered her secret talent, and the Midnighters have found an effective weapon to keep the darklings at bay, it seems like things might be settling down in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma. Jessica’s finally learning to enjoy the secret midnight hour, when time stops for everyone except her and her four fellow Midnighters. But they’ve all forgotten that danger can come at times other than midnight, and from sources other than the darklings. It seems impossible, but they discover evidence that regular humans know about the midnight hour, and that they want something that will imperil the Midnighter’s lives, something bound up with the evil that stalks the blue hour of midnight… and something to do with why there are no Midnighters older than sixteen.
Review: Oooh, so good. Just as good as the first, really. These books are compulsively, addictingly readable – I stayed up well past the midnight hour reading this one, practically tearing the pages I was in so much of a hurry to find out what was going to happen, and how it was going to end. Westerfeld’s got a deft touch with the creepy, populating his world with a good balance of psychological menace and out-and-out gruesome nightmare fodder. (It’s also highly effective – as I was getting out of my car last night at a few minutes before midnight, my neighbor’s black cat followed me up to my front door, and Westerfeld’s world is creepy enough that I was tempted to touch my metallic front door handle and whisper a tridecalogism as darkling deterrent.) He’s a little bit cagier with his clues this time around; I suspect the necessities of the story ran afoul of some bits of the anchoring reality, and he opted for poetic license for some and slight obfuscation about the rest. The world of midnight still hangs together extremely neatly, though, and as I suspected, he adds to the lore and answers quite a few of the dangling questions from the first book.
Westerfeld creates his characters as effectively as he creates his world. I particularly enjoy that the Midnighters aren’t some group of super-powered heroes out to save the day – well, they are, but they’re also normal teenagers, complete with the full array of teenager neuroses, jealousies, petty bickering, and sarcasm. That’s true in the first book as well, but I felt like in Touching Darkness, Westerfeld did a very nice job of getting inside the heads (sorry, bad pun, considering one of them is a mind-reader) of each of the kids, looking at the way their individual gifts have both saved and scarred them, and making them into multidimensional people rather than flat stock characters. Overall, I am enjoying the heck out of this series, and unless Westerfeld totally flubs the third book, it’s going to unseat the Uglies series in my ranking of Westerfeld’s books. (Still doesn’t beat Peeps, though; not enough biology!) 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: These books aren’t stand-alones, so don’t read this one first. Go pick up The Secret Hour first, and then I suspect my recommendation about whether or not to read Touching Darkness will be totally moot.
Other Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf
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First Line: At last, everything was sorted out.
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