What We Saw at Nightby Jacquelyn Mitchard
Like the yearning, doomed young clones in Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, three teenagers with XP (a life-threatening allergy to sunlight) are a species unto themselves. As seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Allie Kim, they roam the silent streets, looking for adventure, while others sleep. When Allie's best friend introduces the trio to Parkour, the stunt-sport of running and climbing off forest cliffs and tall buildings (risky in daylight and potentially deadly by darkness), they feel truly alive, equal to the "daytimers."
On a random summer night, while scaling a building like any other, the three happen to peer into an empty apartment and glimpse an older man with what looks like a dead girl. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that escalates through the underground world of hospital confinement, off-the-grid sports, and forbidden love. Allie, who can never see the light of day, discovers she's the lone key to stopping a human monster.
An Indie Next Selection
“Dangerously addictive, breathtakingly beautiful, terminally awesome.”
—Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author of Shine
“A thrilling ride through the darkness... Dark, suspenseful and quietly beautiful.”
—Melissa Walker, author of Small Town Sinners
"The plot is intricately woven, with twists at every turn. Mitchard's exemplary writing takes a masterful detour into young adult territory."
—Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of Criminal
“Allie’s... voice [is] honest and real...fascinating looks at both Parkour and a disease so unconventional that it turns the lives of patients and families upside down.”
—Booklist, High Demand Review
“What We Saw at Night is an engaging blend of real-world drama involving a life-and-death illness and a whodunit thriller. Imagine John Green's recent The Fault in Our Stars in a mashup with a Nancy Drew mystery. Plus some roof jumping and wall scaling.”
"The fast pace is set from the beginning with Juliet’s dazzling jump across the buildings... recommended for readers who enjoy a unique twist on realistic fiction."
"Atmospheric, melancholy... breathtaking"
“This latest from Mitchard is quickly paced and intricately plotted, with flares of humor cobbled into the dialogue.... The suspense will keep [readers] engrossed.”
“An interesting page-turner ... the cliff-hanger ending will have most readers waiting for the next installment.”
—School Library Journal
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Dark Stars
Don’t move and don’t scream too loud, no matter what you see,” Juliet told Rob and me. “Promise? On pain of death?”
“I promise,” I said readily.
Rob shot me a furious glance. I forced myself to shrug with a chilly deadpan.
What else was I supposed to do?
Juliet was a force of nature. I could ask her why we might scream. I might as well chew on air. She wouldn’t tell us. She was my best friend—in fact, aside from Rob, my only real friend—and the sum total of what I truly knew about her would have filled a teaspoon. She’d probably spent two hundred days at my house, and I’d spent another hundred at hers. None of that mattered. Still, I was always guessing at how headstrong she was and how unattainably different . . . and we were about to see that proved all over again.
Rob shivered in the Washington Wizards team jacket his father had given him. It was meant to be comforting, to include Rob in the real world. Rob was a natural athlete, especially when it came to basketball, but couldn’t play because of what he had, what we were. He could never be exposed even to the lights in a gym during a real game. The jacket was one of thirty or so. His dad stockpiled them, being a sporting-goods buyer. They were actually a kind of mockery. But Rob’s dad was such a sweetie that he would never have realized that. So Rob dutifully rotated among the Bucks, the Bulls, the Pacers, the Pistons, and yes . . . even the Wizards.
I was wearing my leather coat and two layers of scarves. It was April 8, but Iron Harbor didn’t know it was technically spring. At two in the morning, in the brick passageway between the Smile Doctors dentistry and Gitchee Gumee Pizza, we could see our breath every time we spoke. The temperature couldn’t have been much above freezing.
“I’m going to die,” I said. “And be cryogenized. Standing
“Such a weenie,” Juliet said.
She didn’t seem to feel the cold. Ever. In a black bodysuit that made Rob stare and a black turtleneck sweater that gathered at her knees, Juliet braided up her waist-length dark blond hair and looped it into an elastic band. Along the left
side of her face, from her cheekbone to her lip, she’d stenciled in iridescent face paint a line of blue stars that glowed in the faint light from the street corner.
Face paint! For a Tuesday night among the Nothings of Nowheresville, Minnesota. For the excellent true adventures of three people who had absolutely no lives.
“I’ve been called a lot of things,” I said. “But never—”
“A weenie? Consider yourself called,” Juliet interrupted with a wicked laugh. “In fact, I have called you a weenie myself.”
She had, in fact: the previous summer, when I balked at breaking into Valerie Meyercheck’s house again. After all, it was the third time. Valerie spent about ten days a year in Iron Harbor and the rest of the time whirling among her houses in Switzerland, Paris and Lake Forest. I’d finally followed Juliet inside, but I did not try on any clothes. Juliet took two sweaters, two of countless heather cashmere cardigans.
Juliet insisted (and I believed her): no one who had a hundred color-coded sweaters could be sure if the moths had eaten some, or if the dear old family servant Valerie probably called “Mammy” had given them away to the poor.
Maybe I was a weenie.
Of course, none of us could trump what Henry LeBecque had called Juliet last fall, though we should have seen it coming for years: “A wannabe vampire.” As if she’d chosen to live the way we did. First off, how could any guy with a pulse dump Juliet, no matter what her limitations? Henry said he couldn’t stand being with a girl who basically had to go home every morning and sleep in her coffin.
He paid for it, though, a month later. Just before Halloween, the former librarian, Mrs. Taylor, died at ninety. Torch Mountain Home Cemetery also happens to be a place where a lot of kids like to drink. Nobody was thinking about the fact that they would dig old Mrs. Taylor’s grave before they actually buried her, and cover it with a piece of canvas and a blanket of sod. Henry never knew what hit him. His
“friends” (loyal allies that they were) took off when they heard Henry scream and tumble into a black hole. He was lucky to have had his cell phone so he could call his parents to explain to them how he ended up alone in the deep bottom of a new grave in the snow on Halloween night. He was a weenie.
“Don’t look yet!” Juliet called back. “I have to go through this mentally before it happens.”
Biting my tongue, I watched Juliet stretch, an old habit from her days as a competitive skier. She patted her hands over her clothing, to make sure nothing was sticking out or unbuttoned. She checked her shoes to make sure the laces were tied. Then she ran off into the darkness.
Rob nudged me as we heard Juliet’s light step on the fire escape, far down the cobbled passageway. The metal was old and rusty and probably a decade out of code. Most public things moved about forty years behind schedule in Iron Harbor. Who would know better than we? People were careless enough not to lock their doors. Many didn’t even bother, for the convenience of the only three teenagers who would be out all night, whose parents either were fine with what we did, or never bothered to stop us. Who dared to try to keep us out?
There was no fire escape, roof terrace, restaurant back entrance, abandoned cabin, deck door on a lakeside mansion, no unused boat, construction site, or gated park that Rob, Juliet and I didn’t know about—even before we all got our driver’s licenses the past winter. The three of us had been born within four weeks of each other. What were the odds? January was obviously a very good month for freaks. Now the streets of Iron Harbor—all twenty of them, plus the resorts in the hills around the tiny town—belonged to us.
“What do you think she’s doing?” Rob said.
He noticed me shivering and pulled me close to him.
My heart skittered. I resisted the urge to say: Hold me tighter. My fingers flickered at the level of my chest in the ASL sign for “I want”: the one we taught my little sister to use to ask for food when she was two and spoke only baby Chinese. But Rob didn’t see. He never saw. My sign language was from me to myself, a sort of prayer, like the way people cross their fingers behind their backs when they tell a lie.
It wasn’t a lie, though. It was the central truth of my socalled emotional life. For the past three years, Rob’s touch could brand itself in a way I would be able to feel the next morning when I lay in bed, as though I’d been bruised and there was a sort of pleasurable agony in probing the injury. Rob could pull the pin on my emotions just like that, and then leave me on fire as he walked away. He had no idea, of course. Worse: it was the effect he wanted to have on Juliet, and never would.
He hunched down on his heels and started poking at the mortar between the cobblestones. We waited.
One, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Three, one thousand. . . .
You can think a lot in three seconds, I’d learned from being in an MRI machine.
My mother knew how I felt about Rob. I never told her. I didn’t have to. My mother should have been a clairvoyant on TV and made us all rich. (“I see an older man, very handsome, a thick head of hair. He’s with a baby. He wants you to know they’re both happy.”) People would have believed her. She could see through walls and straight into my skull. And phones? She could name the person at the other end of the call by the tone of my voice or who I was texting by the number of keystrokes.
A telling example of how my mom operates: about six months ago I got dressed for the night and came down for dinner. There, at my place at our butcher block table, was this little pink bag. In the bag was a year’s supply of birth control pills.
“Well,” I said. “Uh, thanks. I was hoping for a digital camera for my next birthday. Which isn’t for quite some time. What’s the occasion?”
“Just in case,” my mother said.
My little sister, Angela, who’d just turned nine, started laughing so hard that milk came out her nose. I’d bet that Mom had sat her down beforehand with a matter-of-fact “Allie’s a young woman now,” and “sexual feelings are a part of every young woman’s process of maturity.” Having been adopted at the age of the three by a single mom (who happened to have an older biological daughter with a lifethreatening disease), Angie was disturbingly wise beyond her years. Either that or just disturbed.
“I hope these have a really long, uh, shelf life or whatever, because I don’t have acne and Mr. Right isn’t anywhere around,” I said. “Or even Mr. Wrong, for that matter.”
“I was thinking about Rob Dorn,” Mom said.
“So have I, but he thinks about Juliet.”
“Are they . . . ?” Angela put her fork down. Spaghetti sauce was way too volatile a condiment for this conversation.
“Most certainly negatori,” I said. “Rob has the same chance with Juliet as Howard.” (This in reference to a custodian of indeterminate age, who had worked at the hospital
and clinic since shortly before time began. All of us knew Howard because he never seemed to really leave. Any time any of us had ever been there, he was either pushing the big rubber dumpster through the halls or lying down inside it, singing some of his favorite religious hits.)
“I just thought you should have them,” Mom said.
“Isn’t this the kind of thing you’re supposed to find hidden away somewhere? Then start crying and saying your little girl is all grown up?”
My mother sighed. “That would be conventional,” she
Even now, I couldn’t tell if she would be happy if I actually took the birth control pills or if I didn’t. So I kept them in my underwear drawer. I was the one who almost cried whenever I saw them, because I knew I was the last person on
earth who would ever need them. . . .
Juliet’s voice came in from above like a mortar shell.
“Live once!” she shouted. “Ready?”
“For a year now,” Rob muttered. “What stupid thing is she doing?”
“She’s okay,” I said, and I called softly, “Ready, Juliet!”
“She doesn’t have a light,” he pointed out.
“You don’t know that. She could have had it in a fanny pack under her sweater.”
Until recently, my little sister actually assumed that people with XP could see better in the dark, like cats. Which is absurd: on average, we probably see worse. A lot of people with XP damage their eyes with light when they’re little before they even know they have it. Rob and Juliet and I kept miners’ headlamps and little Maglites in our backpacks if we had to pick a lock or peer down a ravine or around a dark corner.
“Are you right where I left you?” Juliet called, very far away. “You have to watch every second of this. You’re my witnesses!”
I called back, “We’re right here!”
One of the things you learn pretty quickly if you live your life at night is that—unless you’re literally standing on someone’s front porch—you can pretty much be as loud as you want. No one will hear you or see you. Definitely, no one will care. We had Juliet’s dad to thank in part for our freedom, of course. Tommy Sirocco was one of the Iron County sheriff’s deputies, and he worked the midnight shift solely because his family’s life was set up around his daughter. Whenever he spotted Rob’s Jeep, Officer Sirocco would quietly turn his squad car away to give us privacy.
I heard a shuffling and loud scraping above. Rob tensed. Juliet was making her way across the flat graveled roof of Gitchee Gumee Pizza. The Indian name for Lake Superior is Gitchee Gumee; that wasn’t just something Longfellow made up for a poem. (Hiawatha was real, too, by the way.) The second floor of Gitchee Pizza housed the apartment of its owner and founder, Gideon Brave Bear—also a genuine Indian, a Bois Forte Chippewa; he got pissed if you used the term “Native American.” Every kid in town ate at least one meal a week at Gitchee. Fortunately, in addition to being a very good purveyor of pizza, Gideon was also a very stereotypical drunk. He wouldn’t have heard Juliet if she had been up there setting off fireworks.
We heard the scraping again, and then a few short taps.
“Juliet!” Rob cried out. “What the hell?”
Then Juliet jumped.
For a shattering instant, I thought I was a witness to my best friend’s death: a spectacular original suicide, for an audience. It was just the kind of stunt Juliet would pull. My mind slowed to syrup as I waited for her body to hit the ground between Rob and me. Juliet had always sworn she would die her own way. Not in some bed in the darkened living room of her house or hooked up to an IV in a sterile hospital . . . or after an overdose with a note pinned to her pillow, which is how many lives end for people like us.
But this wasn’t death. This was life. The moment Juliet launched herself from the roof, she became a whirling constellation. I couldn’t see her face. A long line of glow-in-thedark blue stars, outlined in silver, soared out above our heads between the buildings, wheeling in space, completing a full circle. Then the stars were gone. She’d already landed on the opposite roof—hooting in her victory dance—when my brain caught up to my eyeballs.
Juliet Sirocco had just traversed a twelve-foot gap, twenty feet off the ground . . . while performing a front flip in mid-air. She must have shed her sweater on the roof. That explained the feverish swirl of glowing stars. She’d stenciled them on her bodysuit, all up one leg and one arm, as well as her face. Rob fumbled for the switch on his Maglite. The faint beam flickered over the roof. Juliet was punching the air and grinning down at us. I broke my promise, because I screamed. I couldn’t help it. The word exploded from deep inside: “Amazing!”
“Shut up, Allie!” Rob hissed.
“What? That was pretty amazing.”
“She could have been killed!”
I had to laugh. “What else is new?”
Chapter 2: The Sandbox
The three of us met in the sandbox. In the sandbox, at night.
You think of a happy child. That child is playing in the sun. She’s picking flowers in a field with the sun’s rays painting threads of platinum in her hair. She’s running with a kite, her chubby legs just a little tanned with the balmy blessings of midsummer. Think about it: even the Sesame Street theme song begins with the words, “Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away.”
That sunny day would kill us.
We were happy children, I suppose, but we ran to the swings to play when kids our age were listening to bedtime stories. In the hospital, I’d once overheard a toddler telling his parents he’d seen ghosts in the Iron Harbor playgrounds, the ghosts of children. I remember I was afraid to speak to the nurse after that because I thought I might cry. We hadn’t come back from the dead, but we did live in a parallel universe. It was our own country, the night country. We lived there with our parents, many of whom chose to be Persephone and abide in the netherworld for the sake of love.
We also had each other.
I couldn’t even remember a time before the three of us were friends. So I knew from those playground days that Juliet would never stop. She was always the first to dive naked into Ghost Lake, black water so cold that it would freeze the blood in your veins. She was the first one to get a set of lock picks so that we could steal a joint from the back room of the guy who hand-loomed ugly ponchos for tourists. We got the
weed but we only had one toke apiece. If you have XP, you really can’t smoke. Heat damage risk is huge. You can, however, drink. Juliet helped us celebrate the New Year last year by sneaking into the hot tub of a famous New York talk show host’s ski chalet, drinking the champagne we’d lifted from one of the twelve cases of Veuve Clicquot in his wine cellar.
But there was a flipside to Juliet’s adventurousness, the side that haunted Rob and me. She was the only one who took off, for weeks at a time, alone, away from us. First she had a legitimate reason: for four years, from ages eleven to fifteen, she managed to ski competitively. Sunlight be damned, she hurtled down the slopes swathed like a mummy in oversized goggles. But then, a year and a half ago, she’d suddenly stopped. Yet the disappearances continued. Like every month or so, for a few days or a week, we wouldn’t hear from her beyond a text saying C U Soon.
She always came back though. That was the silent mantra I repeated to myself whenever the absences seemed to reach the breaking point. Juliet always comes back.
Meet the Author
Jacquelyn Mitchard is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, the very first Oprah Book Club pick, as well as more than twenty other critically acclaimed books for adults and teens. A nominee for several national and international awards, she served on the 2004 Fiction Jury for the National Book Award. In addition, she is a longtime journalist and regular contributor to Real Simple and Parade magazines.
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Place of Birth:
- Chicago, Illinois
- B.A. in English, Rockford College, 1973
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I should not have read this book right before going to bed. Beautifully written and well paced, this was one creepy ass book. I'm not normally a fan of contemporaries, but this one really managed to suck me in and keep me up all night to finish it - and then up all night because I was afraid to go to bed. The characters are what make it worth it. It's all told through Allie's head, but you get a good idea of where they are and become strangely attached to them -- I was worried for Juliet when Allie was, rather than dismissing her behavior; I got mad at Rob when she did, rather than rolling my eyes; whenever Blondie appeared, I was as scared at Allie was. And boy, was Blondie scary. But that verges into the realm of spoilers, which I definitely do not want this review to have, as the entire book relies on the suspense of the unknown to drag you in. And it does an amazing job at it, too.
I’m not nearly as much of a mystery lover now as I was when I was younger, but I couldn’t help being drawn to What We Saw at Night. One of the immediate strengths of the book is the apparent randomness of the elements that comprise the story. Parkour, XP, and a possible murder? Color me intrigued. As a clarification on the premise of the novel, Parkour is a form of martial art that involves leaping off and around tall buildings or other manmade structures. XP is a genetic disease that basically causes a severe allergy to sunlight, forcing its victims to live in the dark. Hence the title. The characters we follow on their nighttime travails are a group of three similarly afflicted friends. They have a long history, but it’s also painfully apparent that something isn’t right in their world—even before they witness a possible murder. Though the story and characters are both wonderfully original, I felt that the world-building and plotting were given more attention than the character development, in that they stayed strong throughout the book. I’ve read a handful of mysteries as an adult that I could poke some holes in, and What We Saw at Night was not one of these. Allie, the protagonist, was painted accurately as a girl who has long used her friends to avoid the stasis of her own life, and must learn to forge on ahead without them. Her connections to her family, and the woman she babysits for, even the two other members of her ‘tribe’ who at times treat her badly, were what made the story worth reading. I loved her to death—not only because she was likeable, but because her actions never felt implausible. Both Rob and Juliet, her friends with XP, suffered from a lack of believability at times—Rob near the beginning and Juliet at the end. Usually I care far more about the questions left unanswered with plot, but since the author has plans for a sequel, the character mysteries were far more irksome to me after some reflection. That being said, had I not been aware of a sequel when starting the story, the ending would have ad me raging for days. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the first in a series pull off that big of a cliffhanger, and I’ve read a ton of series. The excerpt at the back of the book had me fooled into thinking there were more pages than I’d assumed, and when I came to the end I was furious. Even though I was bothered by some of the characters at times, I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel. And if you have an interest in murder mystery plots that don’t feel tired or rehashed, then you should give What We Saw at Night a shot.
Great sspense but ending is more than a cliff hangrr
Allie Kim and her two best friends Rob and Juliet don't live the live of normal teenagers. They all three have Xeroderma Pigmentosum. This is a fatal disease that makes them allergic to sunlight. They sleep during the day or stay in doors were it is safe. They have grown up together and look out for each other. When Juliet introduces them to Parkour they go along with her. Parkour is extreme stunt sport of scaling or leaping from buildings. Only be out after dark make this sport even harder for them. They do it because it helps them feel like normal kids and after all they probably won't live a long life after all. One night during this sport they see something. Allie is sure she has witnessed a murder. Her two friends aren't sure whether to believe her or not. She takes matters into her own hands and tries to solve the mystery herself. What she finds may destroy her trust in some she loves most. Allie is a great character. She is very original as she has XP and that is not something I had read about. You can see all sides of her personality as you read from being a daughter who tries not to worry her mother a whole lot, a very loving friend, someone who is in love and has been a while, does some extreme things but you get to understand why she does it, to someone who will not let a crime go even when people make her think she is crazy. Rob I liked but at times he confused me. He seemed like he was torn a few times about the three's friendship. I wanted to shake him and say think before you act. Juliet I have to say I don't like. To me she seemed selfish and wasn't to good a friend. I understood after I read the book what made her that way but I think she could have handled it different. At times it seemed like she wanted Allie and Rob not to be friends or Allie to be friends with others. It was like it all had to be about her. There is a lot more fascinating people you get to meet in this book. From the beginning you get to understand what XP is. The author did a great job bringing you into the world of that disease she writes about. You really get to get into Allie's head and see all she goes through. You feel you are Allie reading this book. The plot is wonderful and you really can't figure out just what happened it leaves you guessing to the end. You also wonder who is her friend and who is hiding stuff from her. Lot's of action is in this book and no one is safe. I don't do spoilers so it is so hard not to say something that is one. All the interaction between the characters keeps you on your toes to see what happens next. Did Allie see a murder if so who did it? Is it part of her disease making her lose her mind? You have to read to find out but beware you are probably wrong i know I was. I didn't see the ending coming or what happened. If you want a different mystery in a unique world be sure to pick this up. I look forward to were the next book goes.
“Live once.” Some pretend like there might be a second chance. Others hide in the dark. Only Juliet knew what our life could be. Allie Kim is 16. She has two best friends. In most ways, she’s a completely normal teenager…except that she, Rob, and Juliet can’t go out into the sun. Ever. Each suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a fatal allergy to sunlight. Their lives? Lived only at night. A bit bored, Juliet leads the trio in learning the dangerous, boundary-pushing parkour, leaping off buildings and training like Olympians until one night Allie sees what she thinks is a murder. Rob and Juliet aren’t so sure, and the division takes its toll. At first appearance, the Soho Teen debut sounded much like a modern take on the classic Rear Window – odd circumstances lead to a possible murder sighting and disbelief. What We Saw at Night surprised me. Allie isn’t the typical YA protagonist. Neither are Rob and Juliet. Knowing the seriousness of their conditions and their odd lifestyle, it makes sense that they’d be more mature. It was refreshing, as was the relationship between the three. Allie has feelings for Rob, and so much of what she feels reminded me of those high school relationships when a friendship turned into a crush. However, as the story progressed, the murder and ending became more and more muddled, and the suspension of disbelief was more and more difficult to achieve, and by the cliffhanger end, I was less interested in reading a sequel and more annoyed that the story had not reached some sort of conclusion. With an intriguing premise and realistic characters, What We Saw at Night is a promising start to Soho’s Teen line, and even with the ambiguous ending, I can see this one flying off the shelves.
The unexpected, thrilling and plain outright creepy all make up parts of the world, Jacquelyn Mitchard introduces us to in her book 'What We Saw at Night'. Allie Kim is a typical teenager with only one big different - she can't go out in sunlight because it will kill her. But, that doesn't stop her from going out at night with her two friends to play a high adrenalin, and life-threatening sport. On one of their night-time adventures, Allie witnesses something so spine-chilling that it causes nightmares. A glimpse of a girl who appears dead and a blond-haired man, who could be her killer. And that's when the fun really begins. When I first started reading this book, I thought I wasn't going to like it. The pace was slow and there was a little bit of info-dumping, which are two things that totally put me off a book. But, I continued reading because I had been given this for review through NetGalley. I was glad I did. It took awhile, but once the body had been discovered that was when the pace speed up and I ended up really enjoying the book. That's not to say that there weren't things that annoyed me about it. One of the things that bothered me was how Allie would call her mother 'Jack Jack'. Now, I don't know about you, but I would never in a million years get away with calling my mother anything, but 'Mom' or variations of the form. I know it was used affectionately, but it just didn't ring true to me and made them seem more like sisters than mother and daughter. I also didn't really like Juliet. She didn't think. Allie, her best friend, tried to tell her things that were only in her best interests and she pretty much manipulated the situation until Allie thought it was her. Juliet put her friends' lives in danger, totally on a whim of hers, all because she wanted to 'live'. The other characters were okay. I haven't really got anything to say about them. Rob played the love interest although I did think for a moment there was going to be some kind of love triangle going on, but it didn't happen. Rob was a follower. He followed Juliet and whatever she wanted to do. It was only later that he seem to become stronger as a character. I do think that Rob's relationship with Allie ended up being cute though, even if a little disappointing at times. I haven't really mentioned Allie as a character, because I don't really have much to say about her. She turned out to be quite a good character, even though, at times, I was a little disappointed in her. The story line itself was actually quite good. I liked how Allie and her friends weren't normal, everyday characters and that they had a condition they had to live with as best they could. I could understand why they did what they did when they decided to do Parkour. I also liked the murder-mystery side of it. It was better than the usual murder-mystery because Allie had a weakness that other heroines didn't have. The ending was kind of sad, especially since something happened that I didn't really expect. I should have, I guess, but I didn't. I would recommend this to readers who like murder-mystery novels. Sandy from Magical Manuscripts
Last year Soho Press announced that they would be expanding to include a YA imprint, Soho Teen. This imprint will be publishing teen thrillers and mysteries. I'm always excited about new imprints so I decided to check them out. They very nicely sent me an ARC of their first release, which is now out in stores, What We Saw At Night. It centers around a group of three teens who all suffer from a deadly allergy to sunlight. Thus, they must live their lives at night. They own their small town after sunset but when one of them thinks that she witnesses a murder, the Rear Window action starts. LIKES: The concept is really cool: There were so many aspects of this book that were new and different and I really appreciated that. In particular I love the concept of kids who were confined to the night. It adds a whole new world of opportunities and challenges for the author to play with. Throw in the thrilling sport of Parkour and you've got a great backdrop. The disorder is very nicely explored: I admired how Mitchard didn't simply use the disease as a crutch. She really explored the ins and outs of XP and this led to a greater understanding and therefore appreciation of her characters. The suspense is great: Once the story gets going, the suspense is wonderful. There were several scenes that will stay with me for a long time. DISLIKES: The action, particularly the Parkour, is hard to visualize: The Parkour aspect of the book was cool, but since I don't know much about the sport it was hard to visualize many of the action scenes. The author used a lot of jargon and, while she explained it, it still made it hard to picture what was going on. It takes a little bit to get going: There was a bit of a pacing problem especially in the first half of the book. This is a pretty short book and so the pacing really needed to pick up a bit. Luckily, the second half was better. I just didn't like Juliet: I'm sorry but it had to be said. She's manipulative, hard and I didn't find anything about her very redeeming. She's pretty much a terrible friend and so I had a really hard time getting into the parts of the story where the reader was supposed to feel for her. Someone needs to call the police: Okay, to be fair, the police are called initially and nothing comes of it, but I just felt like if Allie would have gone to her mother or the cops sooner everything would have gone a lot smoother. Of course, I realize that then we wouldn't have a book, but it's just hard for me to understand a character that believes she is in mortal danger and doesn't run to the cops or someone in an authority position. I'm very happy that I was able to read What We Saw At Night. Overall, it was a very unique, cool little book. There is a sequel in the works and it will be interesting to see where the author takes these characters. If you're looking for good thriller with a different setup, you should check this one out. I think it would have a lot of potential as a film as well. I look forward to reading more from Mitchard and Soho Teen.