Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight, by Will McIntosh
2016, 320p, YA Science Fiction
My Rating=3.5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

This YA novel pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.

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 mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored 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 math, 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. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is priceless, 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. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

Sully is 17 years old and sells spheres at a flea market, but it's not very profitable. Spheres just started showing up all over the place one day. As people burn them (which means they put two of the same color to their temples at the same time), they are given enhanced senses or abilities (Forest Green--enhanced sense of smell, Taupe--artistic ability, Cream--athleticism, Periwinkle--good with numbers, etc). There are 43 sphere colors and a rarity scale from one to ten. Sully seems to have the best luck with the ones on the lower end of the scale, but they aren't worth as much money. He did find a rare one once but got ripped off by a billionaire named Alex Holliday. He's trying to make ends meet so he and his mother don't need to move away to live in a relative's basement.

Hunter shows up at his booth one day with a sphere on the rare end. When their sale doesn't go as planned, they team up together to find even more rare spheres. That eventually leads to them teaming up with two more of Sully's friends, Dom and Mandy, and they end up on a wild adventure. 

I liked the way this book started! It was easy to cheer Sully on as he had been wronged in the past and was looking to improve his lot in life. Once he met Hunter, he was able to see how teaming up with her would be beneficial. They were creative and made sacrifices on their quest to find rare spheres. When the four teenagers got together, their motivations were different, which caused fights at times and solutions other times.

There was a point where I couldn't put this book down because I was so engrossed in it and then some things happened that felt out of place and I started losing interest. I kept with it, though, hoping it would pick up again. It did somewhat and I thought the ending was okay. The only content of note is that there is some language. Overall, I liked this book and think it will appeal the most to science fiction fans!

Will McIntosh is a Hugo Award-winning science fiction author, as well as a finalist for eleven other awards. His alien invasion novel Defenders was optioned by Warner Brothers for a feature film, while Love Minus Eighty, was named the best SF novel of 2013 by the American Library Association. Coming in 2016 are his first young adult novel, Burning Midnight (Penguin Random House), about a pair of teens hunting for mysterious colored spheres that give people enhanced abilities, and the wild SF adventure Faller from Tor Books.

Along with four novels that have been translated into five languages, Will has published dozens of short stories in magazines such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Interzone. His stories are often reprinted in different "Year's Best" anthologies.

Will was a psychology professor before turning to writing full time, and still occasionally teaches a class at The College of William and Mary. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and is the father of twins. 


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