Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

The Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld includes The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon. As I occasionally do on this blog I've decided to combine my reviews of these books into one post, sharing thoughts general enough that they will avoid spoilers for any of the novels.

Over the last year or two, Scott Westerfeld has been one of those authors I always intend to read and yet never managed to pick up. So when I was in need of a new audiobook I decided it was the perfect time to test out his Midnighters Trilogy and experience his writing firsthand. I already owned the Uglies Series but I needed a break from dystopia and the creepy premise of The Secret Hour caught my eye.

The Midnighters Trilogy takes place in Bixby, Oklahoma, a place where every evening at midnight the town belongs to the dark creatures that haunt the shadows. Only a few people, who call themselves the Midnighters, know about this secret hour and are free to move around during it when the rest of the world is frozen. Each of them has their own special power which is strongest during the secret hour, and each of them has one thing in common: they were born at exactly midnight. When The Secret Hour begins Jessica Day has just moved to Bixby and immediately Rex, the seer of the group, recognizes the midnight aura on her. However, it soon becomes clear that Jessica is not an ordinary Midnighter and something about her scares the dark creatures very much, and they will do anything to stop her before she can figure out what exactly her special power is. 

The entire series, but especially The Secret Hour is driven far more by plot than character development. In many cases I would have found this frustrating, but Westerfeld is so imaginative in his world-building that I instead found myself appreciating the story he had created even if most of the characters were either unlikable or simply boring when it came to their personalities. That said, there are definitely moments, like when Jessica first discovers the secret hour, that are beautiful in their dreamlike qualities.

The second Midnighters book, Touching Darkness, wasn't quite as awe-inspiring as the first for me, I still enjoyed it but having gotten familiar with the world and characters in the first book, this one felt a lot less meaty in comparison. I did like the storyline, but there was more romance in this book than The Secret Hour and I didn't connect with it as well as I hoped. Touching Darkness delves deeper into the interpersonal relationships between the Midnighters and so readers who appreciate that component of a story may actually prefer this novel to its prequel. My own problem was that I think it is actually the characters I have issues with, I don't like any of them, except maybe Jessica a bit, and while that didn't bother me in the first book they seemed to get increasingly whiny in this one.

Where Westerfeld really excels is with the history and myth behind the Midnighters, of which there is plenty but ultimately, I found the main storyline of Touching Darkness certainly kept my attention better than the subplots.

The final book in the Midnighters trilogy is Blue Noon, and I can definitely tell you that if this had been my first book by Westerfeld I doubt I would have picked up any subsequent novels. That's because it seems as if the book goes for shock rather than coherence. I don't need every little piece of the story tied up for me but a big twist is thrown into the mix near the very end of a Trilogy only to have it leave the characters all sorta just floating, and after so much time with them I really wanted more closure. To be honest, I feel like the way things ended in Blue Noon was really more annoying than surprising, because it was really a case where I was left going really? However, while it could be argued that at least it got a reaction out of me I'd still have preferred a positive one. 

Ultimately I'm glad I read the Midnighters Trilogy. Westerfeld has created an incredible and unique world, and I am amazed to have gotten a small glimpse into his complex mind. This trilogy definitely left me wanting to try other books by Westerfeld, but as much as I enjoyed The Secret Hour in particular, I remain skeptical of his ability to wrap up a series in a way that doesn't make me want to throw the book across the room.

The Secret Hour: 
Release Date: February 19th, 2004         Pages: 304
Source: Audiobook                                  Buy the Book
Touching Darkness:
Release Date: March 1st, 2005               Pages: 336
Source: Audiobook                                  Buy the Book
Blue Noon:
Release Date: February 28th, 2006         Pages: 352
Source: Audiobook                                   Buy the Book

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