Nobody is safe in the secret hour.
Strange things happen at midnight in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma.
For one secret hour each night, the town belongs to the dark creatures that haunt the shadows. Only a small group of people know about the secret hour — only they are free to move about the midnight time.
These people call themselves Midnighters. Each one has a different power that is strongest at midnight: Seer, Mindcaster, Acrobat, Polymath. For years the Midnighters and the dark creatures have shared the secret hour, uneasily avoiding one another. All that changes when the new girl with an unmistakable midnight aura appears at Bixby High School.
Jessica Day is not an outsider like the other Midnighters. She acts perfectly normal in every way. But it soon becomes clear that the dark creatures sense a hidden power in Jessica . . . and they’re determined to stop her before she can use it.
For all the love and praise people give The Uglies, it would be a lie to say I wasn’t expecting more from this book. It was good, but it didn’t blow my mind, the way I was expecting. Of course, this series isn’t The Uglies and maybe that was the problem altogether.
Jessica Day isn’t an unlikable protagonist. She’s pretty typical, as far as protagonists go, and a little too friendly for my tastes, but not too disagreeable. Her new friends are generally all angry, pessimistic people who act like they are better than everyone else because of their secret – including her. I think that Westerfield did that by design, but I didn’t like it. If I wasn’t frustrated with Jessica’s arrogance and frivolity, I was irritated with the rest of the character for being uppity. The exception to this would be Jonathan. While I can’t say that Jonathan’s character was any more realistic, he was likable, and I think maybe I even envied him a little for his sense of freedom. However, even his fallen hero redeemed storyline ran a little too close to annoying. The characters didn’t feel real to me, and since Westerfield was trying to present a dangerous fantasy world, the groundedness of the characters is important.
The concept of the story was interesting, though. In the realm of fantasy and lore, “midnight” has always had its connotations, but it is infrequently called upon in modern fantasy. The world Westerfield has created is almost there, right on the edge of magical. The first midnight that Jessica experienced left high expectations for me, and everything after that first magical experience seemed a little lacking. The creatures were too easily intimidated, and the characters seemed to be able to travel incredible distances too easily, in just an hour.
All in all, the book wasn’t bad. Just, for something presented as “dark,” it seemed too light and easy. It’s a good quick read, and would probably be better for readers younger than myself.