Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

What We Saw At NightAuthor: Jacquelyn Mitchard
Genre:  Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 272
Published: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.” On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most."~Goodreads

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.  

  • 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.  


  • 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.

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