Burning Midnight is an alluring and original book, written by Will McIntosh.
When seventeen year-old David Sullivan is a sphere dealer at a flea market. No one knows where the brilliant-coloured spheres come from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and their make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the more expensive – and the greater the improvement.
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 colour no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday, Sully’s rival, learns what they have, he will go to any lengths to take it from him.
There’s no question about it – the Gold is worth millions. 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. All the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
I felt like this book had a lot of potential, but sadly, it let me down. The premise sounded really intriguing and unique… and this book just wasn’t that. This book wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t enjoyable. Don’t worry, we’re not going to get Grasshopper Jungle vibes in this review (and if you’re new to my blog and don’t understand that inside joke, you should check out that review here), but we’re not going to be getting City of Heavenly Fire vibes either. It just sits in the middle: a midrange, forgettable book. However, the concept of the ‘magical spheres’ was really cool – I just wish I could have gotten into this book more so that I could actually enjoy reading about that. After around fifty pages though, I knew this book wasn’t for me. I kept persisting in the stupid, reckless hope that it might get better, but sadly, it didn’t.
One of the biggest problems I had with this book was the writing style. I’ve heard that quite a few people really liked the way this book was written, but it just didn’t do it for me. It was very descriptive, particularly when talking about characters. And I’m not talking about good descriptive, either. It was more like: Oh, let’s introduce a new character! Why don’t I tell the reader everything about them? Why don’t I make every. single. detail. about this character known so that my readers could create an exact copy of them, if they wanted? Or, alternatively, create a ‘Wanted’ sign? It just felt unnecessary. As I take writing classes, I know that ‘good’ authors weave in character descriptions into the plot. For example: ‘Kelly nodded vigorously, her blond pigtails bouncing up and down with the movement of her head.’ Not: ‘Kelly had blond hair in pigtails.’ You see what I mean? I just felt like Will McIntosh’s writing was quite simplistic and juvenile. And yes, I know this is a YA book and we need to cater for the slightly younger readers and blah, blah, blah… but we’re not slow. Come on, Will.
On a similar note, the novel felt very slow-paced. It seemed to take forever to get into the actual story. And when I say ‘get into’, I mean see some action, not actually find myself absorbed in the world. Because to be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about this world. The world-building wasn’t done that effectively, therefore I didn’t feel as though I was actually there. Besides the fact that I couldn’t really picture where I was and what type of a world I was in, we never actually found out much about the spheres. I mean, where did they come from? Who discovered their ‘magical’ powers? It all seemed a little sketchy to me. Even when the purpose of the spheres was revealed, I was pretty nonchalant. To put it simply, I just didn’t care.
The characters also seemed fairly bland to me. Sully, our main character, made some really bad decisions and I couldn’t even feel sorry for him because I was too busy not feeling anything for him. There was nothing about him that made me connect with him or feel empathetic towards him. He was just kind of there, dragging us along on his treasure hunt for spheres that we hardly knew anything about. The villain of this novel felt way too underdeveloped and one-dimensional. I would have liked to have seen a different side to them so that I wouldn’t just see them as evil, full stop. Additionally, the romance felt like it didn’t really fit into the novel and was just there because ‘YA novels always need romance to attract a teenage audience!’. Right? *cringe* Authors, plz.
Perhaps I’ve read too many ‘treasure hunt’ books recently, because this one didn’t feel that extraordinary. The only real ‘action’ began towards the end, and everything leading up to that felt insignificant and boring. Only when they found a sphere did this book become slightly more thrilling. If I ignored the fact that I didn’t really know anything about the spheres besides the fact that they had magical powers, I think I would have felt more thrilled as the prospect of finding one. Towards the very end of the book, things became more interesting, thank goodness. The ending was quite surprising and unexpected, but because I didn’t have much of an emotional connection with the characters, I was again fairly unmoved.
I’m sad to say that I didn’t really enjoy reading this book. I had high hopes for it because it sounded so intriguing, but the writing style and the development of the characters and the world-building let me down. However, if this sounds like the type of book you’d be interested in, go for it! The ‘treasure hunt’ aspect would actually be quite enjoyable if I didn’t ask so many questions. I’d give Burning Midnight a score of 4 out of 10. Oh, I did end up giving it the same score as Grasshopper Jungle. I must have realised I disliked it more than I thought. Anyway, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think of the idea authors have that every YA book must have romance? Do you usually like ‘treasure hunt’ stories? What are your opinions on villains who are portrayed as one-dimensionally evil? I’d love to know! XD
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!