Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review: Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh
Publisher: Macmillan Children's
Released: February 11th 2016
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
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 mum make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-coloured 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 maths, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement - and the more expensive the sphere.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. What they find will change more than just their lives... Because the entire world fights over spheres, but no one knows why they're here or what their powers are... until now. (from Goodreads)

Burning Midnight was a very odd book. I liked the original premise and enjoyed the first half, but the second half was just weird and the things that happened seemed a bit random, and weren’t well explained. 

Our main character Sully was a sphere dealer. Don’t ask me about the spheres, because nothing about them was explained until the last quarter of the book, and even then it made hardly any sense. All we were told at the start was that spheres gave people abilities - from a high IQ to good hearing and a whole range of other things. As a result, they were in high demand, and rarer spheres were sold for thousands, if not millions of dollars. Sully was mostly sphere hunting to try and make some money, though it wasn’t really going well. He hadn’t found anything worth much since his discovery of the Cherry Red sphere a few years ago - and back then, he was conned out of the over two million dollars he was owed, so it wasn’t the best of times for him. After meeting Hunter, however, he started getting his hopes up again. She was a natural at finding spheres, and if together they could find something with a high rarity level, they’d be set for life. The romance between these two was really, really unnecessary and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sully seemed like a decent enough guy but he got too fixated on Hunter too fast and it was weird. And I really liked Hunter to begin with, she was really cool, had been through a lot in her life, but was determined to succeed. Then in the second half of the book she suffered a completely personality alteration and it was just ugh. Whhhy? And the romance became all sappy and these two barely knew each other yet were perfectly happy to risk their lives in ridiculous ways and I just didn’t believe it. Even Sully’s friends who came along for the journey seemed too eager to die for this - in my opinion, most people would have tried to talk Sully and Hunter out of their plan instead of going along with it.

Plot-wise, oh dear. I mean, I did like the first half of the book. I really did. The writing started a little choppy but got better a few chapters in. The concept of the spheres was really interesting and I was definitely intrigued by them. I liked getting to know Sully, I liked the reveal about who stole the sphere he and Hunter found (that could have been developed and used in the second half!). I enjoyed the scenes where Sully and Hunter went out looking for spheres. I had my suspicions about the spheres, and I was hoping we’d get a good explanation as to where they came from. But nope. The explanation was so odd and then what happened after the Gold spheres were burnt was completely random and barely explained. Why did those events occur? Where did the spheres even come from, exactly? It was all a bit of a mess - the ending conflict was introduced so quickly and then solved so quickly, and it just seemed out of place. The world-building in general was poor and one of the biggest weaknesses of this book.

Overall, while I liked some parts of this book, it took a direction that I didn’t think made much sense and the personality changes in some of the characters were just too much for me. I wouldn’t actively discourage anyone from reading this book, especially if you like science fiction, but just go into it cautiously if you do pick it up. Personally, it wasn’t for me, but if you are a fan of very unexpected twists, you may enjoy it.