After a hideous car wreck, Lucas wakes from a coma to find that his world is gutted. Not only is his beloved twin sister, Silver, gone forever, but Lucas is broken in body and spirit. He will never be a college athlete, and is robbed of what he now realizes was the most important bond of his life. Although they weren't identical twins, Lucas and Silver shared a bond so fierce it defied reason, and was nearly supernatural.
After her death, that bond seems to endure when Lucas sees Silver everywhere he turns. Either he's crazy, or Silver is trying to tell him something about the California gang initiation they stumbled into that cost Silver her life. Lucas is bent on revenge, turning on Raymond, Silver's former boyfriend; the one Lucas never wanted her to date. He forms a posse of vigilantes to take out the gangsters responsible for Silver's death, but he risks not only his own life, but the love of the new girl on his block, who knows more about Lucas and Silver than can be accounted for by mere chance.
A Promising Premise That Falls a Little Short
What I Loved:
The premise of VIGILANTE NIGHTS is absolutely fascinating. It's part contemporary urban street gang, part ghost story, part haunting journey from grief to hope. I loved the juxtaposition of a rich, privileged boy running a gang on the streets because his grief and rage drove him to do things he wouldn't have ordinarily done.
The action from about halfway into the book is intense, and plot twists abound. Readers who hang on through the slower first half will be entertained.
The ending is hopeful, something a book with this much darkness needed. I appreciated that the author led her characters (and her readers) to redemption in the end.
The setting, a small coastal town in California, was often portrayed with lovely imagery. I could hear the eucalyptus leaves in the breeze and smell the salt air. It was enjoyable to feel solidly connected to the landscape that served as a backdrop to the story.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The pacing felt off to me and made it difficult to become fully immersed in the story until nearly the halfway mark. So much of Lucas's character depends on us taking his word on what he was like before, but without a chapter or two of normalcy to help cement his relationships, his pranking, and his interactions with his social structure, it was hard to care about his grief and the changes that loss wrought in his life. The author also hurries past chunks of time, skimming the surface of Lucas's emotional journey, and then quickly gives us his decisions as if we should be on board with them. Without walking through his slowly evolving thought process on loss, and eventually on revenge, it was hard to keep up. I felt like I had whiplash trying to keep up with Lucas's sudden declarations and actions, especially when he seemed to contradict himself or when the motivation remained murky for the reader.
I also had difficulty with Lucas himself. For one, the teens in this book don't sound like the teens I have under my roof or like any of their friends. There were phrases like "hella" and "take a powder" that went out of style before I graduated from high school. Lucas also approaches his male friends with macho arrogance, and denigrates any emotion inside himself (other than rage) as wussy and female. He mentions that he should just take estrogen pills and get his transformation into a woman over with and similar phrases when he feels sad or in love. He's especially hard on himself when he cries. I might feel differently about this if his character arc had included him learning to accept that boys feel emotions and then finding a constructive way to deal with them. I would hesitate to recommend this book to teen boys because they get enough "men shouldn't feel" messages as it is, and that's a shame, because I think this premise would certainly draw male readers.
A promising premise and an action-packed second half should appeal to readers who enjoy urban thrillers with a hint of supernatural and who don't mind a main character who can be difficult to cheer for.
Review: Vigilante Nights
I'll try not to reveal anything big.
Okay, first of all, mental bond? Lucas and Silver are Fraternal Twins. If they were Identical Twins, the story would make much more sense, because identical twins share the same DNA and are practically the same. It sounds kind of illogical, but I'll let it go. I'll say its a brother-sister bond/shared-the-same-space(aka uterus)-before-birth bond.
Anyway, let's get to the book. Vigilante Nights is brilliant for a Young Adult book. It faces the pressure and craziness of teenages in horrible, poor areas. It's a mystery book with twists and turns at every path, fake or real. Vigilante Nights had me guessing who was the real person who cause the death of Luca's beloved sister, Silver. For all those romance book lovers out there, Vigilante Nights is a romance, too. And it is a story of revenge. (Now we are going all Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke)
The plot of Vigilante Nights is fascinating. As I said before, twist and turns run Vigilante Nights. Just as you thought the book was over, BOOM! A major event happens. It was surprising while being dangerous for many of my favorite characters in Vigilante Nights.
Supernatural is a natural part of Vigilante Nights. Silver, like in "The Ghost and The Goth" by Stacey Kade, is following Lucas Alexander around. Not exactly like Alona though. Silver is nicer and sweeter than Alona, who is simply to say a blond mean bitch.
The ending was amazing. It was beautiful, although I won't tell you why. Let just say it involves with peace.
The changes in relationship between characters were amazing. An accident can change so much, just like life. An accident can change so little, just like life. The influence affects everyone, little or big. It's like a wave or an earthquake causing a tsunami.
Lucas Alexander: The twin brother of Silver Alexander. An ex-quarterback, injured. Intelligent. Sherlock Holmes, in Vigilante Nights. Ruined by a car accident. The same car accident which took the life of his beloved sister. Like a good brother, he was adorably protective of Silver. He has this anger inside of him. With the support and love from Tara, he semi-heals, but the ghost of Silver still haunted him. Lucas went through this huge character change, affected by the very same car accident/gang rivalry war. From a bad boy, in the beginning, to the protector of the weak, in the end. It was a spectacular change to see.
Silver Alexander: The twin sister of Lucas Alexander. An interesting character, in my opinion.
Rating: Four out of Five