Midnight City: A Conquered Earth Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview


Lord of the Flies meets War of the Worlds in J. Barton Mitchell's alien-invaded post-apocalyptic world where two teens and a young girl with amazing powers must stop the aliens’ mysterious plan

Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone---a powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to ...

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Midnight City: A Conquered Earth Novel

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Overview


Lord of the Flies meets War of the Worlds in J. Barton Mitchell's alien-invaded post-apocalyptic world where two teens and a young girl with amazing powers must stop the aliens’ mysterious plan

Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone---a powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to a state of complete subservience. But the Tone has one critical flaw. It only affects the population once they reach their early twenties, which means that there is one group left to resist: Children.

Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, and his current target is Mira Toombs, an infamous treasure seeker with a price on her head. It’s not long before Holt bags his prey, but their instant connection isn’t something he bargained for. Neither is the Assembly ship that crash-lands near them shortly after. Venturing inside, Holt finds a young girl who remembers nothing except her name: Zoey.

As the three make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, they encounter young freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and the amazing powers that Zoey is beginning to exhibit. Powers that suggest she, as impossible as it seems, may just be the key to stopping the Assembly once and for all.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first book of the Conquered Earth series.

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Editorial Reviews

Julie Cross
"Midnight City hooked me right from the moment Holt first tries to capture Mira and takes her prisoner only to realize he's dealing with a girl who's got some serious survival skills. The two characters are complete equals, more than any other fictional co-star team I've read and yet they're enemies. I knew exactly what would happen with Mira and Holt's instant chemistry and yet, I had to read on just to watch this amazing, action packed journey, both emotional and physical, unfold." — Julie Cross, international bestselling author of Tempest
Nancy Holder
"I have succumbed to Midnight City! Just like Holt, who fights to liberate a conquered Earth, I now see that great things can happen. After all, J. Barton Mitchell wrote this novel. I have hope of another. As soon as possible"- Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Saga
Jana Oliver
"When the adults mysteriously disappear, who will save the day after earth is conquered by aliens? In J. Barton Mitchell's riveting post apocalyptic tale, the kids are the last line of defense. Centered around engaging (and conflicted) characters, Midnight City hurtles you into a story teeming with frightening monsters, bizarre techno-magic and edge-of-your-seat action. "

—Jana Oliver, award-winning author of The Demon Trapper's Daughter

From the Publisher
"Mitchell’s prose debut, the first in a dystopian sci-fantasy series, is an imaginative mix of danger and humor...The action will keep readers turning the pages."

Kirkus Reviews

“Comic-book author Barton’s first prose novel offers a bold narrative style, strong characters, and fast-paced action that will appeal to genre fans. Readers may feel disoriented at being dropped into a larger story already in progress, but the cinematic experience is enjoyable enough to convince them to just hold on during the wild ride.”

Booklist

"Midnight City hooked me right from the moment Holt first tries to capture Mira and takes her prisoner only to realize he's dealing with a girl who's got some serious survival skills. The two characters are complete equals, more than any other fictional co-star team I've read and yet they're enemies. I knew exactly what would happen with Mira and Holt's instant chemistry and yet, I had to read on just to watch this amazing, action packed journey, both emotional and physical, unfold."

—Julie Cross, international bestselling author of Tempest

“I have succumbed to Midnight City!  Just like Holt, who fights to liberate a conquered Earth, I now see that great things can happen.  After all, J. Barton Mitchell wrote this novel.  I have hope of another.  As soon as possible.”

—Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Saga

“When the adults mysteriously disappear, who will save the day after earth is conquered by aliens? In J. Barton Mitchell’s riveting post apocalyptic tale, the kids are the last line of defense. Centered around engaging (and conflicted) characters, Midnight City hurtles you into a story teeming with frightening monsters, bizarre techno-magic and edge-of-your-seat action. “

—Jana Oliver, award-winning author of The Demon Trapper’s Daughter

VOYA - Meghann Meeusen
For Holt Hawkins, securing the bounty for Freebooter Mira Toombs to erase the price on his head turns out to be more difficult than expected, and not just because she can use ordinary objects from the Strange Lands to produce powerful magic. Surviving the global alien invasion with his dog, Max, Holt knows caring for someone means risking loss, for unless a person is Heedless, like him, reaching adulthood means Succumbing to the Tone and marching zombie-like to the nearest alien Assembly vessel. As the pair head toward Midnight City amidst a plethora of dangers, Holt must come to grips with his growing feelings for Mira and his urge to protect their mysterious companion, the eight-year-old Zoey, who the Assembly relentlessly pursues and who just might hold the key to everything. Readers will be fascinated by the complexly post-apocalyptic world of Midnight City, with every few pages providing new twists--a giant spider-like Fallout Swarm living in a nuclear power plant; the terrifying half-human Forsaken of the Drowning Plains; the River Rat land ship trading post; the complex factions system that defines Midnight City; the magic created by the Strange Lands?and the list continues. Yet, the characters provide the most depth of this sometimes overwhelming world-building. Plot elements and imagery reminiscent of popular science fiction and dystopia will make this text a popular choice, and the book’s end will leave readers clamoring for a sequel. Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
Eight years after the fall of Earth, survival is the name of the game. In a near-future world controlled by the mechanized aliens known as the Assembly, where most adults have vanished and teens slowly succumb to the mind-controlling "Tone" that calls them to an unknown fate, 20-year-old Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter with a price on his own head. To clear that price, he sets out after Freebooter Mira Toombs, who has an even higher price on her head. Her magical artifacts from the Strange Lands nearly prove too much for him. After rescuing 8-year-old amnesiac Zoey from a crashed Assembly ship, Holt and Mira set aside their differences and head for Midnight City to clear Mira's name amid the factions of kids and preteens who vie for points like currency and barter artifacts. The Assembly is on their tail, however, and everyone seems bent on their destruction…and Zoey is far more than she appears. Mitchell's prose debut, the first in a dystopian sci-fantasy series, is an imaginative mix of danger and humor. Some descriptions can get repetitive, and the mechanism of the Strange Lands artifacts is a bit murky, but the action will keep readers turning the pages. Added bonus: a clear break in the middle makes this feel like two books in one. (Fantasy. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250013439
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Series: Conquered Earth Series , #1
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 228,764
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • File size: 882 KB

Meet the Author


J. BARTON MITCHELL is a screenwriter, comic book writer, and author. He studied creative writing at the University of Houston before going on to receive a B.S. in Film Studies from the University of Texas. After selling screenplays to Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox, he created and wrote the comic book series Poe, published by Boom! Studios in 2009. Mitchell lives and writes in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

1. VULTURES
 
 
RIGHT ABOUT THEN, it became official: Holt Hawkins was having a bad day.
“Hey, you’re right,” one of the kids shouted, reaching for him underneath the crumpled old truck. “There is someone under here!”
The kids yanked him out from under the ruined vehicle and slammed him hard against its rusted door.
They were younger than Holt, but not by much. Seventeen or eighteen he guessed, looking at the black veinlike growths crawling through their eyes, the telltale sign of the Tone. It had a firm hold on them now; it meant their time was running out.
Holt sized them up quickly. They were shorter and thinner, weaker, less quick probably, but those things mattered a lot less when you had guns or knives, and these kids had both. Holt had left his with Max, near the tree line, not wanting to risk the weight on the precarious bridge. A decision he was quickly coming to regret.
The six kids holding him had small tattoos on their right wrists. The one with his forearm pinning Holt to the door sported a Scorpion. Two more, knives at the ready, had a Coiled Snake and a Heart respectively.
The wrist tattoos were bad news. It meant these kids were in the Menagerie, and the situation had just gotten a whole lot worse. Then again, Holt thought … maybe they wouldn’t recognize him. He glanced at the single, fingerless glove he always wore on his right hand.
“Hey, this guy’s a Heedless, look at his eyes!” one of them pointed out bitterly. They were right—Holt was Heedless. One of the rare few on the planet the Tone didn’t affect. His eyes were perfectly clear; there were no signs of the crawling black tendrils. It was the only reason Holt had made it to twenty years of age. “Isn’t Tiberius looking for a Heedless out here somewhere? Tall guy like this one?”
Holt grimaced. So much for not being recognized.
He peered upward, looking for any sign of the ship. There were no clouds, the sun was high, and in the blue sky it would blend in perfectly. He had no way of knowing if it was even still there. Which was unfortunate, because it was probably his only shot at getting out of this.
“One way to be sure,” another said, younger still, fifteen maybe, with two tattoos: a Yellow Skull on his right wrist and an eight-pointed star on his left. The star had only two of its points filled in; the rest were just outlines. It was a sign of promotion—it meant he was an Adjutant, a lower-level commander in the Menagerie. As he rose in rank, more star points would be filled in.
“The glove,” the yellow skull said. “Pull it down.”
Holt’s heart sank. He struggled when they went for the glove, but a couple more punches brought him in line. It was a leather one, and he wore it for only one reason, to hide what was under it: a black tattoo just like these kids’ … only his was half-finished.
It was hard to make out what it would have been, but there were hints of a birdlike shape, wings, claws. Whatever it was, it was enough for the Menagerie thugs who had him by the throat.
“Yes, indeed!” said the yellow skull. “This is Holt Hawkins—Tiberius is paying big money for his head, no wonder he’s hiding under there.”
The funny thing was, Holt hadn’t been hiding from them at all. He’d been huddled underneath the truck because of what had been circling in the sky. He glanced upward once more, trying to find it.…
“That what you were doing, Holt Hawkins? Hiding from us?” the yellow skull asked with a sneer.
“If you want the truth, I was taking a nap,” Holt replied, holding the yellow skull’s eyes as solidly as he could. He had to stall them, had to keep them talking. “Nice under there, you should try it.”
Holt groaned as one of their fists made less-than-gentle contact with his stomach. The Menagerie still lacked a sense of humor it seemed. Where is that ship?
“You’re a funny guy, Holt Hawkins,” the yellow skull said, stepping even closer. “Didn’t know that about you. Say something else funny. Go on.”
Holt didn’t bother. Instead, he glanced at the environment out the corner of his eye.
They were all standing on a massive, decaying steel bridge that spanned what used to be called the Missouri River. It stretched as far as Holt could see in both directions, and was filled with hundreds of old cars, where they had either been abandoned by their owners or blown to bits by Assembly gunships during the invasion.
Holt’s fists clenched in frustration. Even if he ran, there weren’t many places to go, other than taking a swan dive off the edge. The way Holt’s luck had been going today, that probably wasn’t the best idea.
The bridge’s supports and cables were barely holding on, many of them had snapped already, and a huge crack in the asphalt near the middle showed where the bridge was pulling itself apart in slow motion. Of course, the bridge’s state of disrepair was the reason he’d bothered to check it out in the first place. Places like this, precarious ones that were risky, they were where you still found valuable things for trade. It had been eight years since the invasion, and most everything not locked down had already been taken, unless it was difficult to get to. Clearly, these Menagerie thugs had been thinking the same thing.
“Get something to tie him up with,” the yellow skull ordered.
The snake groaned at the implications. “We have to drag this loser all the way back to the Samneric?” he asked.
“The bounty says Tiberius wants him alive,” the yellow skull said. “How else are we gonna collect it?”
“What do we tie him up with?” the heart asked.
“Rope. Wire. Your shoelaces—do I have to do all the thinking? Go find something,” he said with impatience.
Two of the boys left to go find restraints. When they got back and tied Holt up, it would all be over, plan or no plan. As ironic as it was, he needed that ship. He just hoped he could draw its attention.
“Kind of funny, I guess,” the yellow skull said, his eyes back on Holt. “Bounty hunter with a price on his head. Could’ve just turned yourself in, collected your own reward. You ever think of that?” The yellow skull laughed. The others laughed with him.
Then a strange sound filtered up from under the truck. The laughter died; the boys all looked down at it. It hadn’t been there before, the sound. Holt knew why. What he’d left under there was starting to burn hotter.
“What’s that?” one of the boys asked, kneeling down to look underneath. His eyes widened at what he found.
“Well?” the yellow skull asked. The boy grabbed hold of something and pulled it out. A long cylinder that sparkled bright red. Even in the daylight, the kids had to shield their eyes.
A road flare. Sparkling and burning hot.
If this was going to work, it would happen any second. Holt looked up into the sky.…
… and saw a flash of light, far above, as the ship twisted and caught the midafternoon sun. His heart made a hopeful leap in his chest.
“What did you do?” the yellow skull demanded, looking back at Holt, his voice nervous and unsure for the first time.
Holt smiled. “E.T. phone home,” he said.
Something slammed into one of the boys, knocking him to the ground and pinning him at the same time.
Holt had just enough time to see the clawlike contraption, the cable stretching up into the sky … before it yanked the poor kid violently off the bridge. His scream quickly faded to nothing as he disappeared far above.
The others flinched, panicked, looked around the bridge in confusion. It was only the leader, the yellow skull, who knew what was happening. “Vulture!” he shouted, fear in his voice.
Another boy screamed as the claw ripped him upward out of sight. The rest bolted.
Holt rammed his head into the face of the lone boy still holding him, sent him reeling backwards. He was loose; the yellow skull was too shocked to react. Holt’s kick found his knee, crumpled him to the bridge. The other Menagerie were already running, no longer interested in Holt, concerned only with escaping the horror circling above.
Holt didn’t waste the opportunity. He ran with them, toward the edge of the bridge several hundred yards away. Unfortunately, abandoned, rusting cars blocked his path like an obstacle course.
Another boy went down, pinned by the claw of the Vulture scout ship above … and then screamed as it yanked him powerfully up and away.
Holt had seen the Menagerie approaching, knew the Vulture was circling above. The Assembly scout ships’ optics were infamously powerful, so he’d lit the signal flare before the pirates grabbed him, hoping to attract the thing’s attention. A gamble, but it had paid off.
Of course, there was no guarantee it wouldn’t grab him next, but he liked those odds a lot better than the ones he would have gotten with the Menagerie.
As he ran, Holt leapt over the hoods and trunks of cars, sliding over them agilely, hitting the ground at a sprint. Ahead, the two Menagerie who had gone for rope were running back. They weren’t totally aware of their predicament yet. They were still focused on Holt. He saw them raise their guns, and he ducked quickly behind a ruined station wagon.
Gunfire erupted from ahead of him. He flinched as slugs sparked on the hood of the car.
From the other direction, the remaining boys were closing on him, drawing their own weapons.
A scream echoed from in front of him. Another grapling claw yanked one of the two blocking his path into the sky. Immediately after, one of the boys behind him was ripped upward as well.
No Vulture could fire and retract its claw that fast. Holt ripped his gaze back up to the sky. He saw one flash above him. And then another, separate flash several meters to the north.
There were two of them.
“Super,” Holt groaned. His plan had just backfired.
The kid in front of the car, just now figuring out his problems, stared up into the sky with terror.
Holt drove straight into him, sending him crashing to the crumbling concrete of the bridge.
He could hear the shouts of the other Menagerie pirates behind him, chasing after him. Gunfire sparked all around him as he ran, but Holt ignored it.
Only two pirates were left: the heart and the yellow skull leader. They rushed after him, leaping over the cars almost as agilely as Holt, guns drawn.
More gunfire shredded the bridge near his feet, barely missing him.
Holt lost his footing, stumbled forward, crashed into the open rear door of an old van, hit the ground hard. The wind burst from his lungs; he struggled to get up. The kids were almost on him—he could hear their shouts, growing louder, their footsteps.
He got to his feet and ran. He had to keep moving, to get to the tree line on the other side of the bridge. It was his only shot.
The heart grabbed him from behind. Holt lashed out with a foot, managed to connect and sent him spinning away.
Another grapling claw blew the kid to the ground, pinned him … then yanked him with ferocity up into the air.
Holt stumbled to his feet, ran for the edge of the bridge. Above him, sunlight flashed off the metallic fuselages of both Vultures.
He dodged and shimmied past the remaining cars on the bridge, and came out the other side onto solid ground. Holt instantly turned right, down a grassy slope toward a thick line of trees just a few dozen yards ahead.
It was going to be close.
Holt reached and burst through the tree line with a sigh of relief. With the tree canopy above, he was safe, at least from—
Holt groaned as the yellow skull hit him from behind, tackled him to the ground. He tried to roll over, but the boy grabbed his hair, shoved his face into the dirt.
“You cost me my whole crew!” the boy shouted. “You know what that means?” Holt did know. It meant the Menagerie would hang the kid on sight, but right then he was too preoccupied to answer. The pirate pounded Holt’s face into the dirt over and over, and he struggled to get loose, but the boy’s grip was too strong.
Something growled behind them. The yellow skull gasped as a big blue gray shape rammed into him.
Holt rolled onto his back, saw the yellow skull wrestling with a large cattle dog, its mouth clamped down firmly onto the boy’s arm, its eyes intense slits. It growled angrily as it tried to chew the kid’s appendage off. The boy yelled in pain and shock.
Max. One of the few things Holt ever counted on.
Holt leapt for the yellow skull. Max was tough, but he wasn’t a pit bull. The kid would get him off eventually; it wasn’t a fight the dog could win.
Holt punched the yellow skull hard. Max let the pirate loose, barking furiously.
The two kids grappled, but it wasn’t a school yard fight—it was life or death, and they knew it.
They rolled through the dirt, and the yellow skull maneuvered on top of Holt again. His hands circled Holt’s throat, started to squeeze.
But Holt had seen it coming, got his feet underneath the boy when they rolled over. He kicked outward with everything he had … and the pirate went flying.
The yellow skull hit the ground and rolled right out of the tree line and back into the open field beyond.
Max barked after him, but Holt grabbed the dog and held him in place, staring at the open air beyond the trees with trepidation.
The yellow skull looked up in a daze. Then his eyes widened as he realized he was no longer concealed by the trees. The two looked at each other. Holt almost felt sorry for him.
Almost.
The grapling claw flashed down from the sky, pinned the pirate to the ground. Then he yelled as it ripped him upward out of sight, back into the deadly blue sky.
It was over. Holt let Max go. The dog brushed against him affectionately, licked his face. Holt smiled, tried to push Max off him, but it wasn’t the easiest task. His fur was a mixture of gray and blue with spots of black, and under it rippled muscles made strong by years of carrying packs full of salvage … and chasing the occasional rabbit. Max was considered only a medium-sized dog, but Holt had seen him readily take on creatures and kids three times his size without any hesitation.
“Thanks, pal,” Holt said, scratching the dog’s ears. “Another one I owe you.”
Holt found his pack and weapons where he’d left them, loaded up, made ready to move. He whistled three short notes. At the signal, Max bounded off into the trees ahead of him to scout.
Before he left, Holt looked to where the last Menagerie kid had been. Other than the scarred ground where the Vulture claw had punctured it, there was no indication anyone had ever been there at all. Here one moment. Gone the next.
Just like everyone else …
Holt set off through the trees, following Max’s trail.

 
Copyright © 2012 by J. Barton Mitchell

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2013

    Next

    The next book is called the servered tower. Totally reccomend both.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    More "And the Children Shall Lead" than "Lord of

    More "And the Children Shall Lead" than "Lord of the Flies": or was it "Children of the Corn"?  What survives of the  world before and how it has changed was the interesting part of this book, to me: artifacts and the interesting items made from then.  A good addition to the current crop of dystopian literature.  And there's a dog: just maybe not so much candy?

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  • Posted January 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell was more than what I had ini

    Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell was more than what I had initially thought it would be.   In a world where the site of anyone over the age of 20 is a rarity, it was reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies with a sci-fi element that I devoured.  Midnight City is a jam packed story full of adventure and a budding romance in a dying world.

    Midnight City follows the path of one Holt Hawkins, a bounty hunter, and his faithful dog, Max, as they  set out to conquer the one hunt that will make his life a little easier to live in a world over ridden by aliens.  His current target, Mia Toombs is not at all what he expected.  She is smart, independent, and a survivor, and she will stop at nothing to get what she needs and above all else, to survive.

    As their paths cross, not only are they battling each other, but they must also face the paths ahead riddled with untrustworthy opponents and alien machines, with minds of their own, that will annihilate anything and everything that comes in their way.  As they make their way to Midnight City, where Holt is determined to get his money for capturing the ever elusive Mia, the learn of other alien beings that are similar to the ones they have feared their whole life.  More machines, decked out in various colours, who have made their presence known.  And it seems that all these beings have one goal in mind, a little girl that Holt and Mia have picked up along the way…Zoey.

    Holt find Zoey tied up and trapped inside a burning shell of one of the machines that have been shot down by one of the other machines.  On the outside, Zoey is your typical innocent 8 year old girl, but there’s something else hidden deep within her that will change the course of all their lives, forever.

    Together, all three make their way towards Midnight City and have formed a bond that can only get stronger when trying to survive.

    Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell is an amazing dystopian sci-fi read.  Although there is the element of a romance in the story, it does not over power this action filled read.  Right from the beginning to the very end, we witness the various scenarios that pop up when trying to survive in an alien filled world.  The action scenes kept coming, one after the other, and was a non-stop thrilling read.  I could easily picture the events unfold before my very eyes, and am really hoping that this stunning read will be a movie.

    I can already picture the different pyrotechnics and the imagery that could be projected on the big screen.  The storyline is gripping and had me on the edge of my seat pretty much throughout the entire read.  The characters themselves are ones that you can’t help but fall in love with.  It was  so exciting to watch Holt, Mia, Max, and Zoey foil their foes time and time again, and at the same time wonder which event will end up being their demise.  I really enjoyed the elements of these special objects found in the Strange Lands that, when put together with other various every day, miniscule objects, can be used as a powerful weapon or an object that can get you out of a pinch.

    What I did have a hard time believing was the age group of the kids found in Midnight City.  Whether it’s out on the paths during their travels, or within the walls of Midnight City.  The way in which they carried on their conversations, or themselves for that matter, were more adult than youth.  I totally understand that due to the situation handed to them, they are forced to grow up fast…well beyond their years, but I have a hard time grasping that an 8 year old can be so cunning and deceitful and carried themselves with the tone and authority of an adult.

    What I did really love was Holt’s character.  Yes, of course I crushed on him.  How could I not?  His survival instincts, his loyalty to his dog, Max, and his memories of his family and his love for his sister Emily.  I loved seeing his vulnerable side, and then seeing how strong and goal oriented he is.  If the world were to end up like this book, I sure as hell wouldn’t mind having a Holt of my very own.  Heck, I even loved Mia!  With her ability to thwart Holt time and time again.  I loved how her mind was constantly working to get ahead.  To get ahead of her enemy so that she can live to see another day.

    With a plot that keeps you guessing, various twists and turns hidden throughout this story, strong characters (both main and plot building), Midnight City is one read that you don’t want to miss out on.

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  • Posted December 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    And a little child shall lead them. I love this book. What can


    And a little child shall lead them.

    I love this book. What can I say to show you why? Perhaps “show” is the operative word because J. Barton Mitchell clearly has a talent for showing as well as telling. In short, he’s a very good storyteller and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this, his first novel (of many, I hope).

    I very much appreciated the third person past tense points of view, not being a big fan of first person present tense. Most of the story is told from Holt’s perspective but occasionally seeing other points of view is a good way to add more depth to the story and, since the three main characters have such different issues, it helps the reader understand them better. I’m also eternally grateful that we don’t have to suffer through insta-love. Whether Holt and Mira will eventually become a romantic item is pretty much a given from the moment they meet but their progression towards mutual attraction is a natural one. Slowly growing feelings are what should be expected when these two start out in such adversarial circumstances.

    I found the four main characters—Holt, Mira, Zoey and Max—to be completely engaging and believable, especially Holt. Here is a young man who has seen the worst life has to offer and, yes, he’s cynical, but a piece of him still wants to believe that things can be better. Growing up fast was a necessity and he has become a teen who could very well be a survivor in such a nightmare future. Mira, on the other hand, is a girl we don’t see often enough in young adult fiction. She’s a bit more than cynical, too, but she’s brave, intelligent and very clever but also has a wistful side that’s very appealing.

    Zoey is that child who often shows up in this type of book, the one who may just be the savior of the world, but Mr. Mitchell manages to keep her from becoming trite. Zoey is a likeable 8-year-old and, most of the time, behaves just as you would expect her to. I really enjoyed her attachment to Max and her mix of vulnerability and calm dependence on her companions, not to mention her touches of humor. Oh, and by the way, I adore the four-footed Max, best companion to have on a perilous journey.

    If anything made the story sometimes drag for me, it’s in the descriptions of the artifacts and how they work. I don’t quite get it any way so less attention on them would have been fine with me. It would be enough to know that certain items have special properties—and at some point, I’ll want to find out why they do—but I don’t really need to have such details as that one coin is turned heads out and another tails out.

    Some reviewers are disconcerted by questions left with no clear answers but, to me, full knowledge of what’s going on works only if the book is a standalone. This is the first in a series (trilogy?) so why would the reader want to know everything by the end of the first book? Mitchell‘s worldbuilding is imaginative and detailed and, yet, there are still many things to find out in upcoming volumes, not only about this frightening future but about the people and the aliens that inhabit it. In some ways, Midnight City reminds me of a Stephen King novel in it’s detailed yet very broad storyline but the difference is that King tells it all in one book of 1,000+ pages.

    Speaking of worldbuilding, this author has the magic touch. I easily saw through the eyes of this small band when they encountered such awful places as Clinton Station with its Fallout Swarms but Midnight City itself is the real gem and Mr. Mitchell‘s meticulous attention to detail made for a strong picture in my imagination. He has a background in comics and screenplays so his ability to create such strong visual images comes as no surprise.

    I’m very glad I hadn’t yet compiled my list of best books read in 2012 before reading this because Midnight City will certainly be on it. Now I just have to cope with the endless wait till next fall for the second book in the series, The Severed Tower.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    Loved it!

    I was unsure due to the negative reviews i read, but i was lured in by the cover. I absolutely loved it. Fast paced and starts right in the action with world building as the story progressed. Not a ton of romance, but hints, and lots of well placed humor.

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  • Posted December 5, 2012

    Midnight City is one of the most engaging fantasy/adventure nove

    Midnight City is one of the most engaging fantasy/adventure novels I have read in a long time. I couldn't put it down, and now I'm waiting on pins and needles for Act Two.

    J. Barton Mitchell is a masterful world-builder. The post-apocalyptic scenario he paints is colorful, multi-layered and complex. It has enough anchors to familiarity to keep the story grounded and relevant to readers (the Hostess CupCakes reference was an especially cute and rather prescient touch). It has a strong but never browbeating undercurrent of social observation, speculating on what it might be like to reconstruct life in a decapitated society - while keeping sight of the fact that this new world's inhabitants are still children with childlike fallibility beneath their streetwise exteriors. And it has quests, fantastical steampunk-y artifacts, sages, aliens, and cool spaceships aplenty - this IS a fantasy novel after all!

    I found Mira and Holt's relationship to be utterly believable. Too often, teen romance devolves rapidly into cringeworthy codependency (I'm looking at you, Twilight). Refreshingly, Mitchell manages to write a love story that feels genuine and sweet while avoiding that trap entirely. Both characters carry some baggage, and the way the relationship evolves feels authentic to their personalities - neither is comfortable throwing caution to the winds, but neither can deny the growing draw they feel towards the other.

    The beginning is admittedly a tad slow, but the pace definitely picks up in the second half - it's worth puzzling through a bit of disorientation in the first few chapters to get to the meaty character development and action. And Zoey is without a doubt the cutest little bad ass this side of the Strange Lands. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

    Bottom line - J. Barton Mitchell's debut novel is a must-read. When you're busy buying them up for all the book lovers on your Christmas list, be sure to grab a copy for yourself too. You can thank me later.

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  • Posted November 15, 2012

    With a lot of our fellow bloggers raving about Midnight City, w


    With a lot of our fellow bloggers raving about Midnight City, we knew we had to try to get a copy. We were curious whether the hype was living up to the actual book, but what did we get? Well, for starters, all that was missing from this book were the fairy tale characters. This book somehow seemed to fall under dystopia, science fiction (you know, the one with lasers, and aliens, and stuff), fantasy (zombies), and apocalyptic fiction.

    We found that there seemed to be a latent disconnection between the characters and the readers. Holt and his lot of random misfits were uninteresting and flat at most. The characters were just that-characters from a book that stayed in a book. We didn't feel anything towards the characters, and it is suspect that this is where it goes wrong. Give the readers characters they could relate to, and they'll be sold. Give them confused characters who don't know who they are as persons, and you'll confuse the readers too.

    The pacing was remarkably slow in the first half of the book, then the latter half attempted to jam in new characters, new turn of events, and new possibilities, which made a confusing book all the more baffling.

    This book was hard to finish for the both of us, and it was equally hard to swallow down Mitchell's attempts at romance. Contrary to what the blurb promised, we didn't detect any immediate romantic attraction Holt had for Mira, and their romance seemed a tad forced. In fact, it seemed as if the author had a checklist to what could possibly elude to a romantic tension. Of the proper age? Check. Emerald eyes that Holt hates one moment and adores the next stuck on infinite loop throughout the book? Yes. Mint-scented hair every few chapters? Ditto. Cheesy dancing under the stars? Aye aye! So they're stuck together for quite a long time? Uh-huh. Holt turn into a cheeseball, no more "Survival dictates it." stuff? Of course. Mira rid of her tough girl exterior and behaves like a total girl? Positive.

    The action scenes in this book were frankly, lacking. We couldn't feel anything for the characters as they ventured into new territory and, as said in the blurb, encountered aliens, pirates and freedom fighters. We couldn't feel the tension, the danger and the thrill of their expedition. The very confusing world building didn't help either, while we could see similarities with War of the Worlds mainly due to the tripod-like aliens, it wasn't easy to imagine the different settings that Mitchell describes in the book. The Strange Lands, the Drowning Plains and Midnight City itself. The artifact combinations, while interesting, could have been fleshed out more.

    At the end of the book, questions are still left unsolved: Why was Holt a Heedless? And does being Heedless really mean you're immune to the Tone? (if you've read the latter part of the book, I think you'll understand why we asked this question)

    Midnight City, I guess we are not your intended audience at all.

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  • Posted November 10, 2012

    It was pure bliss and it¿s hard to put down. Like Whoa! It¿s a

    It was pure bliss and it’s hard to put down.

    Like Whoa! It’s all action till the end. I love how dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, adventure and romance merges together in one book. It was pure bliss and it’s hard to put down.

    The story started where the aliens had taken over the earth. The population was almost wiped out. All the adults have succumbed, leaving children and teens on their own. Holt is a bounty hunter and a heedless. Somehow, he’s immune to the tone. He was told to capture Mira, a freebooter from Midnight City. He needs her in order for him to get out of the group (Menagerie). But capturing Mira is as hard as winning the war. The story took a great turn when the met Zoey, a 9 year old kid who keeps a secret that could save them all. What can Zoey do? Can Holt be able to turn Mira in, despite his growing affection? You have to read this awesome book to find out.

    I love books with superb world-building. Midnight City did not disappoint me at all. It has everything that I want from a book. As for the genre, I have an itch when it comes to sci-fi, dystopian and post-apocalyptic. I love how all those genres are in one book. It’s brilliant!

    The survival and adventure always captures my interest. I think its how one character can endure the hardships. Their strength and strong wills fascinates me. The story is written in a fast-paced manner, where you have to brace yourself from aliens, mutants and pirates. The element of surprise! You don’t know where the story can lead to. I also enjoyed how the author described the scenes in a detailed manner. The vultures, raptors and fall out swarms gave me goose bumps and heaps of excitement. Again, I like how it was written perfectly like it could be turn into a comic or manga rather than a book. It certainly dragged me out of reality.

    The characters are interesting and easy to like. The book was written in third person. You get to see the whole story from Mira to Holt. Two characters that I came to love. Holt had caught my attention instantly. He’s strong, brave and cold. Yep, cold because of what happened to his past. Somehow Mira and Zoey made him a bit softer. Mira reminds me of Katniss from Hunger Games. I love how brave and brilliant she is. She’s a butt kicking and innovative. Zoey’s gave character gave spice to the story. The aliens want her badly! –Can’t really tell why- She’s innocent and funny. Her remarks made me laugh several times. A nine year old match maker!

    The romance angle is good. It was not insta love. I enjoyed Holt and Mira’s blossoming relationship; it felt real. The “Ohhhhh! Can you guys kiss already?” moments made this book more appealing.

    Overall, Midnight City is a fun read. I recommend this book to sci-fi, dystopian and post-apocalyptic lovers. It has a hint of romance that you don’t want to miss. I can’t wait to read another book from this author.

    I give this 4.5 whales.

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  • Posted November 3, 2012

    Enthralling!

    Could not put it down! I randomly picked it up at B&N, and immediately had to buy it after reading the first few pages. It was hardback and therefore more expensive but totally worth every penny! Can't wait for the sequel, but I am sad it doesn't come out until fall 2013 :(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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