Burning Midnight

Burning Midnight

by Will McIntosh

Hardcover(Library Binding)

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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. 
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.
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. 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. 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.
Chosen as a 2017 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Burning Midnight is for (1) adrenaline junkies and gamers, (2) obsessive collectors, and (3) people who can’t get enough of crazy endings. I’m all of these things, and I loved it.” —Margaret Stohl, New York Times bestselling author of Black Widow: Forever Red and coauthor of the internationally bestselling Beautiful Creatures series

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553534122
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Will McIntosh is the author of several adult speculative fiction novels and is a frequent short-story writer. His first novel, Soft Apocalypse, was a finalist for the Locus Award. “Bridesicle,” a short story published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story and was later expanded into his novel Love Minus Eighty, which was an ALA-RUSA Reading List selection for science fiction. His newest novel for adults, Defenders, has been optioned for film by Warner Bros. Burning Midnight is his first novel for young adults. Will lives with his wife and twin children in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he is working on his next young adult novel. Check out willmcintosh.net and follow him on Twitter at @WillMcIntoshSF to learn about his other sci-fi adventures.

Read an Excerpt


Sully pulled the thin wad of bills from his pocket and counted. Thirteen bucks. He’d hauled his butt out of bed at six a.m. on a Saturday to make thirteen bucks in seven hours. He couldn’t work out how much that was per hour, but he knew Dom made more stacking yogurt and cream cheese at Price Chopper.

The flea market was depressingly empty. Most of the other vendors were parked on lawn chairs, their feet propped on tables. Sully spent enough time sitting in school, so he was standing, arms folded.

The timing of this epically bad payday couldn’t be worse. It would have given his mom a lift, for Sully to hand her a hundred bucks to put toward the rent or groceries.

He still couldn’t believe Exile Music had closed. Nine and a half years, Mom had worked there. By the end she’d been their manager, their accountant, their everything. But she had no accounting degree; she didn’t even have a high school diploma. Where was she going to find another job that paid half of what she’d been making?

Sully took a deep, sighing breath and stared down the long aisle.

A girl around Sully’s age turned the corner and headed in his direction. He watched her walk, head down, beat-up backpack slung over one shoulder. There was a swagger to her walk, a little attitude. Or maybe the combat boots, the black gloves with the fingertips cut off, the mass of dark braids bouncing off her back like coils of rope provided the attitude.

As she drew closer, Sully looked at his phone instead of staring. It was hard not to stare.

To Sully’s surprise, she slowed when she reached his stall. She eyed the orbs he kept locked under glass, running her tongue over her teeth. She was wearing loose-fitting cargo pants and zero makeup. Her brown angular face was striking, her take-no shit scowl a little intimidating. Not your usual flea market customer.

He cleared his throat. “Anything I can help you with?”

She studied him, squinted, as if he was slightly out of focus. She unslung the bag on her shoulder and knelt out of sight in front of his table.

When she reappeared she was clutching a sphere— a Forest Green. Enhanced sense of smell. Sully didn’t have to consult the book to know it scored a three out of ten on the rarity chart. Retail, he could easily get six hundred for it.

“How much?” she asked, holding it up.

His heart was hammering. This one deal could make his whole weekend. “Wow. You find that in the wild?” She didn’t strike him as a collector or an investor.

She nodded. “It was caked in mud. I thought it was an Army Green.” Which was a big fat one on the rarity chart. Resistance to the common cold. Sixty bucks.

“Man, you must have died when you cleaned it off.”

“How much?” she repeated, with the slightest of nods to acknowledge his comment.

Sully tried to remember how much cash he had on him. Two fifty? Maybe two seventy. Usually that was more than enough, because who brought a Forest Green to a flea market?

His gaze flicked between the Forest Green and the girl’s face. “Two fifty?” His voice rose at the last minute, making it sound more like a question.

The girl chuckled, bent to pick up her pack. “I can get three twenty-five from Holliday’s.”

Sully flinched when she said “Holliday’s,” but to her credit, she said it like it hurt her mouth.

“Hang on. I can go to three fifty, but I can’t get you the last hundred till tomorrow.” He’d have to borrow it from Dom.

The girl put a hand on her hip. “I’m sorry. Did I give you the impression I thought three twenty-five was a fair price? Let me rephrase: even the bastards over at Holliday’s would give me three twenty-five.”

Sully laughed in spite of himself. They were bastards. The brand-new store they’d opened in Yonkers was a big part of why Sully’s earnings had taken a nosedive. And Alex Holli­day himself was more than a bastard. Sully squelched any thought of Holliday before that particular train of thought could start running down the track.

He did some quick calculations. This girl could list the Forest Green on eBay and get at least four fifty. Minus eBay’s cut, that would leave her with about four hundred.

“Okay. Four twenty-five.” Two hundred dollars profit. He could definitely dance to that tune.
The girl scowled, opened her mouth to counter. Sully raised his hand. “Don’t even try to tell me that’s not a fair offer.” He looked her in the eye. “We both know it is.”

She held her scowl a second longer, then broke into a smile. It was a terrific smile, complete with dimples. “You got me. Four twenty-five.”

He pulled the cash from his pocket, started counting it out. “Like I said, I can give you two fifty now, the rest next Saturday.”

The girl’s eyebrows came together. “I hope you’re not thinking I’m going to give you this marble now. If you’ll have the cash next week, I’ll come back with the marble then.”

Sully licked his lips, which were dry as hell. If she left, there was always a chance she wouldn’t come back. It had happened before; it was never a good idea to give people time to find a better offer.

“Look, I’ll give you a receipt. I’m good for it; I’m here every weekend.” Sully spotted Neal across the aisle, unpacking used DVDs from a cardboard box. “Neal!”

Neal lifted his head. He was wearing Ron Jon sunglasses despite being indoors, in a cavernous room that was not par­ticularly well lit.

“Can she trust me?” Sully asked, holding his palms out.

Neal stabbed a finger in Sully’s direction. “You can trust that man with your life.”

From the next booth over, Samantha shouted, “And that’s the truth!” and crossed herself. Samantha was Neal’s wife, so her testimonial was somewhat redundant, but the girl with the Forest Green didn’t need to know that.

Sully turned back to the girl. She folded her arms. “I wouldn’t trust my grandma with that kind of money.”

“Hey, Sully?” Sully hadn’t noticed the kid hovering at the corner of his booth. He was twelve or thirteen, Indian, hold­ing a replica sphere—a Cherry Red. “Would you sign this?”

“Sure.” Sully reached for the replica and a Sharpie the kid offered, feeling a flush of pleasure that the girl was there to witness this.

“You sure you can trust me with this?” Sully asked as he signed.

The kid laughed.

Sully blew the ink dry, tossed the kid the Cherry Red, said, “Thanks, man. Thanks for asking.”

“What was that about?” the girl asked, motioning toward the kid, who was disappearing around a corner.

Sully held out his hand. “David Sullivan.” When the girl only looked at his hand, he added, “I’m the guy who found the Cherry Red.”

“I know who David Sullivan is.” She sounded annoyed. “A millionaire for ten minutes, until Alex Holliday’s lawyers stopped payment on the check. Tiny Tim ripped off by New York’s favorite billionaire.”

The words stung like hot sauce on a wound, but Sully couldn’t deny she was just stating the facts without any sugarcoating.

She held the Forest Green by her ear like a shot-putter. “Moving on. We got a deal? I’ll see you Saturday?”

“Tell you what.” Still trying to shake off her words, Sully took out his key ring, unlocked the display case, and pulled out his two most valuable spheres—a Lemon Yellow (grow an inch) and a Slate Gray (singing ability). Both were rarity level two; together they were worth about two sixty. “Take these as collateral. They’re worth way more than one seventy-five. I’ll trust you.”

She considered, looking down at the spheres, then back up at Sully. She scooped the spheres out of his hand and stashed them in her pack. After exchanging numbers in case one of them couldn’t make it next week, Sully counted the cash out on the table. She stuffed it in her back pocket and, finally, pressed the cool Forest Green sphere into his slightly sweaty palm.

“See you next Saturday,” she said, and turned away.

Sully watched her go, her wrists flicking as she walked.

“Hey,” he called after her.

She turned.

“What’s your name?”

She smiled. “Hunter.”

“As in, marble hunter?”

She pointed at him. “You got it.”

“Maybe we’ll do more business in the future, then?”

Hunter nodded. “Works for me if your offers are straight.”

Sully nodded. “See you Saturday.”

When Hunter was out of sight, he held the Forest Green up, rotated it, admiring.

“She’s a beauty,” Neal called over. His buzz cut always seemed wrong to Sully; his bright, open face just cried out for long, surfer-dude hair.

“I nearly choked when she pulled it out. I’ve never had a Forest Green before.”

“I wasn’t talking about the marble,” Neal said, laughing.
Sully grinned but said nothing. She was fine, no doubt about it, but not his type. Too serious. Sully liked to laugh.

“I met my first wife at a flea market.” Neal put his hand on top of his head. “She was . . . dazzling. Long auburn hair, freckles dusted across her cheeks.”

“You do know I can hear you, right?” Samantha called from behind her table, which was covered in tarot cards, crys­tals, incense.

Neal acted like he’d been jolted out of a trance. “Sorry.” He grinned at Sully. “Did I say dazzling? I meant frumpy. Face like a Mack truck. Anyway, back then I was selling Grate­ful Dead memorabilia—”

“And pirated concert tapes,” Samantha interjected.

Sully laughed. “The Grateful who?”

Neal didn’t take the bait. He knew Sully knew who the Grateful Dead were, because he’d lent Sully one of their CDs. He also knew they put Sully to sleep.

Samantha crossed the aisle and, without a word, set a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil on Sully’s table. She always made an extra for him.

“Thanks, Samantha.” She patted Sully’s shoulder as she passed.

Sully munched on a homemade meat loaf hero as Neal went on with his story. Sully wouldn’t want to trade places with Neal, but he had to admit, the guy had led an interest­ing life. Well into his sixties, he’d never had a real job with a steady paycheck. He and Samantha lived in a little camper that Sully knew well from the many times they’d invited him to hang out after the flea market closed.

After ten years of sharing an apartment with his mom, Sully’d had more than enough of living in cramped spaces. As of last Tuesday, they were in danger of losing even that. If something didn’t give, by summer they’d be living in the basement of his weird uncle Ian’s house in Pittsburgh. That couldn’t happen. It just couldn’t. Sully’s friends were in Yon­kers; his life was in Yonkers.

He tossed the Forest Green in the air and caught it, relish­ing the hard, perfect smoothness as the sphere slapped his palm. It was a start. Later, he’d call a few of his regular cus­tomers and see if anyone was interested in it. If not, he’d put it in the display case. It wouldn’t be hard to sell. The values on the rarer spheres just kept rising, and Sully kept his prices ten or fifteen percent below the big retailers’.

They’d get through this; they’d keep the apartment. In two years he’d graduate from Yonkers High with Dom by his side.

Customer Reviews

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Burning Midnight 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an ok book but not great especially for $10+ it kept building up for a great climax but it kind of fell flat.
GeorgeWu More than 1 year ago
When I first picked up Burning Midnight by Will Mcintosh, I didn’t expect much from it, honestly, I just chose it from the shelf because of its cool cover. At first it seem just another young adult novel which has a realistic science fiction genre. It started out rather slow as well, but once the plot began unfolding I was seriously interested in the book. David Sullivan or “Sully” lives in modern day New York and lives a high school life with his mother and some friends, but he wasn’t special by those aspects. He runs a flea market that sells mysterious spheres that allow the improvement of your body and mind. The spheres to me represent mysterious science in the real world that may have hidden drawbacks. But like many teenagers, he yearns for something more than just getting by. Once he meets a girl named Hunter who together with Sully finds a golden sphere with unknown properties, he knows he is set for a difficult journey, which although not under the same circumstances, is suggestive of the inner struggle to make proper decisions that we face as teenagers. Something about this book that stood out to me was how relatable it was. Between managing school, parents, and friends, as well as dealing with authority when trying to find the golden sphere, I really connected with Sully and his friends’ struggles. The book mentions that teenagers are at a spot where they are too old to be childlike, but too young to feel comfortable acting like an adult. The book is one of the first I’ve read where dealing with interpersonal relationships wasn’t just a part of the plot, but really defines the entire book. Without meeting Hunter and ultimately becoming comfortable with her, Sully wouldn’t have even experienced the emotional and physical journey that he did. The novel is very high quality in that the worlds and dimension of action is very developed. Will Mcintosh really builds compelling details that make it very easy to visualize and feel the setting the characters are in. The 3rd person view that the book is in allows there to be suspense for the reader, not knowing the planned actions of any character until it happens. The idea that burning spheres, brought up by Mandy, a character in the book is not just a concept of fiction, but provokes thought about issues in real life. The idea that we as humans perhaps shouldn’t do something just because it is in our capability. It questions the notion that all things that can be done are moral or not. Mandy believes that burning the spheres, which gives the book its title, is dangerous and unethical. That increasing your natural traits such as intelligence and even appearance shouldn’t be up to your own verdict as a human. This raises interesting ideas about ethicality of issues that could affect us as a people in the real world. Overall, this book was a great read, both with plot and character aspects which enticed me all the way throughout, and with themes that are so resonant that they can even be applied to the real world. The book builds entire almost tangible worlds with just words, and can relate to any teenager. I would recommend the book to someone who wants to read something very palatable yet interesting and enjoyable, especially people of the teen age group.
ASouthernGirlReads More than 1 year ago
High school student David Sullivan (“Sully”) hunts, buys, and sells spheres on eBay and at a local flea market. David rose to fame when he found the only cherry red sphere. He sold it to business tycoon Alex Holliday for a large sum of money. However, when Holliday didn’t receive any special enhancement after burning it, he cancelled the check. In addition, his sphere dealerships are rapidly putting independent sellers, like Sully, out of business. Sully soon meets a mysterious fellow sphere hunter ironically named Hunter. Together they develop a plan to collect and sell spheres. One night they find a gold sphere. No one has ever found one before, and suddenly they are thrust into a high stakes game of cat and mouse with Alex Holliday. This book is straight up YA. And I have a love/hate relationship with YA. There are some YA books that I absolutely LOVE, Harry Potter and Hunger Games come to mind. And others that I don’t like (I’m not going to name any names). Anything with a whiny or entitled protagonist will drive me insane. I’m not asking for unrealistic characters, just ones that are not overtly annoying. This was a YA book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters are not perfect. They have flaws and insecurities, and they make mistakes. But they are feelings we all remember having as teenagers. And the key here is that they learn from their mistakes. Hunter is a strong female character, and Sully treats her with respect. He also treats his mom with respect. The action is fast-paced, the story-building is strong. I read this book quickly because I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen. This was the first book I’ve read by Will McIntosh, but I am definitely going to check out his other books. It was smart and fun, and treats adolescents like intelligent individuals. Love it. (For full review go to www.asoutherngirlreads.com)
DownrightDystopian More than 1 year ago
**Thank you so much to the publisher for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!** The second I started this book, I knew that it was going to be different. I've always been a fan of science fiction worlds, but this one was so different than the ones that I'd read about in the past! Burning Midnight follows a character named Sully who lives in this future world where spheres can be found. Basically, a sphere is a little orb that can be used to give you special abilities and powers, only if you have a pair of them. For instance, a sphere could give you musical abilities while another one could make you prettier and alter your genetics. Sully doesn't exactly use these spheres. Instead, he likes to find them and sell them in order to make a living. However, he ends up meeting a girl named Hunter who really likes looking for the spheres and together they go out into the world and find a sphere that hasn't ever been found before. I think my favorite thing about this book would have to be the world-building. I think it would be so awesome to live in a world with these spheres! However, it also brings the whole morality debate in to question as well. Is it right to alter your life like this when everyone has the ability to do so? Sully was a great character. I liked that he wasn't really all about the spheres because he didn't want to use them. He really just wanted them to help himself make a living, which was really admirable. When everyone was using this spheres to be different versions of themselves, Sully was just being his one true self through and through. Hunter was also a pretty interesting character. I liked that she was really tough and didn't mind getting dirty to find certain spheres out in the world. She was also very intelligent and took the time to calculate areas that she thought nobody else would've visited. In the end, I think that Burning Midnight was a very different science fiction read with awesome world-building.
erinlee20 More than 1 year ago
3-3.5 stars Burning Midnight is the first book I have read by Will McIntosh and I will definitely be checking out his books in the future. There were some things I liked and some things that didn’t necessarily click for me. With that said, I thought this was a solid story and I absolutely love the cover for this book. One of the pieces of this story that I enjoyed was the fact that it was a male narrator. David Sullivan is a sphere dealer and things aren’t easy for him and his mom. In this world that McIntosh has created, spheres are what make people more than what they were born as. Spheres mysteriously appeared on Earth and people realized they gave them certain abilities. Different colors meant different abilities and the rarer the sphere, the greater the value…and cost. David has been selling spheres at the local flea market but because he is competing with the big box stores…namely Alex Holiday’s stores, business and money isn’t steady. When he meets Hunter, a girl who makes a living searching for spheres, they make a deal to hunt together and that is when things begin to get interesting. Let’s talk characters for a minute. I really liked Sully (David) and thought he was developed well. He is a great mix of caring, driven, and smart…when he actually does what he thinks they should do instead of listening to Hunter. I found Hunter frustrating. She was so distrustful and refused to listen to reason which really annoyed me. I think this is why I didn’t believe the romance between Sully and Hunter…at all. The secondary characters in this story are well done and I wish we would have had more of them with Sully. I loved the friendship between Sully and Dom and the brief glimpses we had were well done. Alex Holiday is the bad guy. He burned Sully in the past and now that Sully and Hunter have found something he wants, he is willing to do anything to get it. He clearly doesn’t care about anyone but himself and what he wants. I was glad that Sully didn’t fall for his tricks and stood up to him. Eventually he got what was coming to him and I wasn’t sorry about how things ended up for him. Going back to the spheres…things come to a head and we finally find out where the spheres came from and why. I found it interesting although slightly rushed at the end and what happened with Hunter was a bit odd but overall what I liked most about this story was that it is different. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of action, an interesting premise, and a solid male point of view. If you are looking for a YA in the science fiction genre that gives you a story that is different than other books out there, consider checking this one out.
Barb-TRC More than 1 year ago
Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh is a YA Sci-fi novel. I have never read Will McIntosh, and when I was given the chance to read this book, I accepted after I read the description. It looked like something I might enjoy, and I am happy to say I loved Burning Midnight. This is a very different and unique world, which is set in a somewhat modern day setting. Years before, hidden spheres were discovered, each in different colors, with different powers. If you burn a pair of the same color spheres, you will receive special abilities. The lower range spheres can offer white straight teeth; or make you a little taller; middle to high range spheres can erase bad memories, make you become more attractive, faster, or smarter, etc. The rarer the sphere, the more powerful it is, not to mention most expensive. David Sullivan (Sully) is our young hero in Burning Midnight. Sully lives with his mother, and they just barely make ends meet. Sully a while back discovered a rare sphere, and sold it to powerful millionaire Alex Holiday, who holds many spheres. But Holiday cancelled the 2.5 million dollar check he wrote to Sully, when he said the sphere did not do what was expected. Sully continues to search for spheres, trading and selling the small or medium range spheres to help pay the bills. Then he meets our heroine Hunter, a young girl, who sells him a medium range sphere. Sully and Hunter then begin to work to gather in an arrangement that will help both of them financially. Hunter excels at finding spheres, and with Sully’s help they find another high range sphere that will make them a lot of money. But a betrayal by friends, cause them to be attacked and losing the sphere. Hunter doesn’t trust Sully friends, and their new found friendship will suffer. In a short period, Sully convinces her to trust his friend Dom and Mandy, and when they find a new powerful sphere (gold), all four of them will embark on finding the second gold. Along the way, they are also hunted by Alex Holiday, who wants the gold sphere and will kill to get it. They are thrown into a wild dangerous situation, when the world as they know it will cause destructions and possible loss of lives. How can they stop this massacre? Who can they trust? Anything more would be spoilers. What follows is an awesome exciting and captivating story that will have us on the edge of our seat. I could not put this book down, as I needed to know what would happen. McIntosh has created some wonderful characters and villain, and despite this unusual world with spheres, he had us believing it. Though the ending was exciting and climatic, I would have liked a little more explanation about the spheres. However that being said, I loved Burning Midnight.