Sep 23, 2015

Nightfall, by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

I return to young adult fiction with a newly released horror novel, a tale of friendship, family, betrayal, and very large creatures that like to kill people. Fourteen-year-old Marin, her twin Kana, and their friend Line - whose growing interest in Marin has rather alienated Kana - live in Bliss, a perfectly formed town on a beautiful island. Day lasts for fourteen years, as does Night, and when it comes, the entire town packs up and heads south to the desert. Curious about the rituals surrounding their departure and exasperated by her brother's sudden indifference to her, Marin nevertheless packs up with everyone else when the tide turns and the furrier's boats arrive to take them away. Except that Line has disappeared, probably to go find a necklace Marin lost several months back, and as the boarding of the boats becomes more frenzied, she convinces Kana to go back and find Line. They're pretty sure they can get back in time to catch the boats...but they don't. Left alone on an island made suddenly unfamiliar with the onset of Night, the three adolescents must keep each other alive and try to escape the terrors that lurk in the woods.

The scary bits are done pretty well, enough to make the book a page turner and definitely enough to pump adrenaline into the teenager reading it. I wasn't as thrilled with the character development; moods tend to shift suddenly and without warning, and while teens are known to be hormone-crazy, the shifts are abrupt and awkward. It's written a bit like a movie, or like the authors intended it to be immediately bought for movie rights, which is one of my pet peeves. But the idea is very cool (it reminds me of the movie Pitch Black) and the good parts are enough to carry the bad parts. Predictable to me but probably not so much to a teen, it should make a fun read for those who need a little adrenaline in their lives.

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