Burning Midnight

Featured
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
686   1
Write Review
Burning Midnight
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 02, 2016
ISBN
0553534106
Buy This Book
      

For fans of The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave, this debut YA novel from Hugo Award winner Will McIntosh pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime. Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere. When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them. There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0  (1)
Characters 
 
3.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (1)
(Updated: February 29, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

Pop-Fantasy

This Urban Fantasy is a quick, simple read with an intriguing premise and a younger YA appeal.

High-schooler David “Sully” Sullivan is a low-income kid trying to keep his tiny family afloat through sphere-hocking. Nobody knows exactly what the spheres are or how they work—but it’s been 9 years since they first showed up hidden in man-made settings and the world became obsessed. The 42 known color shades of these objects all have one thing in common: A pair of the same color will grant you enhanced abilities of some kind if you “burn” them. The rarer the spheres are the more significant the enhancement; and the more Sully can get for them at the flea market. His one dreary claim to fame is that he was badly cheated several years before by a big-shot sphere retailer named Alex Holliday. But when Sully meets a street-wise girl and begins sphere hunting with her, his life gets a lot more interesting…

What I Liked:

This book started out strong on many fronts. Underdog protagonists, survivalist tough-girl love interest, high stakes seek-and-find theme, and the largely rapid pacing—all solidly reader-pleasing. (It’s like Geocaching on speculative-fantasy steroids!)

This reader appreciated the unlikely friendship between Sully and Dom. It’s clear they wouldn’t have found camaraderie if not for the fact that they both are infamous—Sully for finding the match to the rarest known sphere (and being cheated out of it), and Dom for having an uncle who committed an unforgettably terrible act. A bit of commentary on this actually turned out to be my favorite quote:
"It was a weird bond they shared, being known for something. At least Sully was known for something he'd done. Dom had to live with a last name that was a verb through no fault of his own."

I liked that the primary antagonist (although largely depicted as a one-dimensional and generic corporate bad-guy) came from a rags-to-riches background and considered himself a “gamer.” It was a gutsy, unique move to make him relevant and even admirable to the book’s target audience—though he was obviously corrupt.


I also liked that the book rounds out with the sense of a cautionary tale. The main protagonists (while largely good-intentioned) consistently make poor, impulsive, or selfish choices and then face fairly logical corresponding consequences. And aside from that spot of teenaged realism, the story graphically conveys age-old concepts like: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

What Didn’t Work For Me:

One of my biggest complaints would be feeling let down by the world-building. As much as this reader enjoyed the idea of the spheres, I would have loved a recap on what methods had been exhausted to learn what the heck they are or where they might come from. The cultural aspect was decently fleshed out—with regular examples of the societal impact the spheres were having (brag buttons, social ladder climbing, entertainment industry impact, public and religious opinions.) But the scientific angle is left almost entirely unexplored. There’s some vague mentioning of spheres affecting people at the neurological or even DNA level, but only once and in passing. Also, who first figured out that if you touched two identical mystery balls to your temples, they will drain of color and give you inexplicably enhanced abilities of some sort? (Especially considering you apparently don't FEEL any different after you've "burned" them.) It does underscore the overarching caution over not flippantly messing with things you don’t understand, but there’s no reason that readers couldn’t be given more background.

While this reader was relieved that there was no insta-love, the romantic buildup between Sully and Hunter seemed oddly forced. (Perhaps in part because we are only receiving the story from Sully’s somewhat bland POV.) As much time as they spent together with shared goals and hardships, there should have been plenty of opportunity for a gradual and organic attachment that readers could believe in. And yet… it fell a bit flat. I think the reason for this stems from the book’s overall sparseness of any visceral emotional conveyance. Even the physical descriptions are somewhat lacking beyond blatant ethnicity cues—and this oversimplified tendency seems to carry over on a psychological level as well. I was never able to feel particularly connected with the characters or invested in their plight.

There is an abrupt sort of tone shift around page 80. Up until that point, the book could have easily passed for an upper Middle Grade story in style and content. It’s almost as if some mild sexualized commentary was inserted to help reinforce its belonging on YA shelves. From about the 1/3rd mark onward, the story lost some of its momentum and never quite regained it—racing in the last 50 pages into a conclusion that struck this reader as a color-coded YA version of Stephen King's ‘The Mist’—more silly than surprising.

Ultimately a fun popcorn, pop-culture kind of read—but one that may not have lived up to its full potential.

Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ryan Quinn and the Lion's Claw (Ryan Quinn #2)
Ryan Quinn and the Lion’s Claw is the much-awaited sequel...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Among the Red Stars
World War Two has shattered Valka's homeland of Russia, and...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Going Wild #2: Predator vs. Prey
The Going Wild series highlights the unbelievable (and completely true)...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
It's 1953, and the United States has just executed an...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
In sixth grade, bad things can happen to good kids....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Before I Fall meets “bah, humbug” in this contemporary YA...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Autoboyography
Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Infographic Guide to College: A Visual Reference for Everything You Need to Know
For fans of the popular Show Me How series, this...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
The Hanging Girl
Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
BanThisBook.jpg
You’re Never Too Young to Fight Censorship! ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Eight Days on Planet Earth
How long does it take to travel twenty light years...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
Even monster-battling princesses get tired sometimes! But a peaceful time...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Refugee.jpg
JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
SwingitSunnyjpg
Summer's over and it's time for Sunny Lewin to enter...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
 
4.0
"In 1961, Charlie Fisher is a poor little rich kid whose mother has decided that she's tired of caring for..."
Going Wild #2: Predator vs. Prey
 
4.0
"After getting involved with Project Chimera in Going Wild, Charlie and her mother and brother Andy are struggling with the..."
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
 
4.0
"The Vanderbeekers family of five children, parents, dog and rabbit have lived on two floors in a brownstone in Harlem...."
 
5.0
"Richard and his family live near Washington, D.C., where his father does something secretive for the government. They live in..."
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
 
5.0
"Maverick's mother has trouble keeping a job due to her alcohol consumption, which probably also influences her bad taste in..."
Ban This Book
 
5.0
"I absolutely feel in love with this book. I was always a big Alan Gratz fan, but after hearing him..."
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
 
4.5
"The Princess in Black protects the people and the goats from monsters that come up from their underground home. She..."
See Fred Run
 
3.5
"'See Fred Run' by Kevin Bolger, and illustrated by Ben Hodson, is a story about main character Fred and his..."
Where's Waldo? 30th Anniversary Edition
 
5.0
"Where's Waldo is an iconic search and find activity book that has been entertaining people for 30 years. This 30th..."
The Little Girl Who Didn't Want to Go to Bed
 
4.5
"THE LITTLE GIRL WHO DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO BED is about a girl who will do anything to stay..."
Mr. Biddles
 
5.0
"MR. BIDDLES stars a cat named Mr. Biddles who is an inventor. He creates all types of new gadgets and..."
Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True
 
4.5
"In UNI THE UNICORN AND THE DREAM COME TRUE, magic is weakening amongst the unicorns because of the never-ending rain...."
Pashmina
 
3.5
"Priyanka Das’s mother does not like Priyanka asking questions about India and her life there, but that doesn’t stop Pri..."
Penguins Love Their ABC's
 
4.0
"In PENGUINS LOVE THEIR ABC'S, Mama Penguin hides ABC's in the snow for her six children to seek out. They..."
Even Fairies Fart
 
5.0
"EVEN FAIRIES FART teaches that nobody's perfect. As children, we listen to fairy tales and dream of having perfect lives..."
Little Penguin and the Lollipop
 
4.5
"LITTLE PENGUIN AND THE LOLLIPOP is interactive and encourages the reader to help Little Penguin by being silly. It makes..."
Flowers for Sarajevo
 
5.0
"Haunting and hopeful. The bombing one of the last working bakeries in the city of Sarajevo might have been..."
Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales
 
4.5
"If you know me you know that I absolutely love retellings, so when I requested this book I was expecting..."
Plankton Is Pushy
 
4.0
"A quick and comical read, rife with sarcasm. A particular plankton is used to eliciting a response from every..."
Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure
 
4.0
"DRAGONWATCH is a captivating, action-packed story that is filled with all type of creatures such as trolls, goblins, dragons, nipsies,..."