Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Born at Midnight

Author: C.C. Hunter
Genre: YA/Supernatural
Type: Paperback
Pages: 398
Series: 1st book in the Shadow Falls series
ISBN-10: 0312624670
ISBN-13: 978-0312624675
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
First Published: March 29, 2011
First Line: "This isn't funny!" her father yelled."

SynopsisSometimes your life can change if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Sixteen year old Kylie Galen learns this lesson the hard way when her parents find her at a party and accuse her of drug use.  They decide to send her off to a camp called Shadow Falls that helps troubled youth.  Unfortunately Kylie soon learns that the other youth at the camp are more than just 'troubled'.  It's at Shadow Falls camp that werewolves, fairies, shapeshifters, vampires and witches are sent to be trained so that they can learn to function in the real world.

This change of scenery with supernaturals isn't the only problem that's been plaguing Kylie.  Her parents have suddenly decided to separate, her grandmother recently died, she just broke up with her boyfriend , she regularly has extreme night terrors where she wakes up screaming and, for some reason, she keeps seeing the ghost of a dead soldier.  Now she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with the camp leaders and other campers insisting that Kylie is one of them.  Kylie remains adamant that there has been some kind of mistake.  How could be a freak like them?  To make matters even more complicated Kylie has two guys at the camp that have piqued her interest.  Derek, who is half fae and Lucas, a werewolf, whom Kylie had a very negative experience with in childhood.

My Thoughts:  I have to admit that I had a tough time reviewing this book.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either.  I think it falls somewhere in the 'forgettable' pile unfortunately. From the book description I had a lot of hope that this would be a great new series but it just never really took off.  Here's a run-down of my take on this book:

Kylie wasn't a great protagonist nor was she the worst but she also won't be memorable.  She starts off as this self-righteous pretty girl whose favourite thing to do is to judge others based on their looks - specifically how 'slutty' they look.  Words used to describe a girl who had sex were "screw toy, slut and whore".  May I introduce Mrs Judgy Judgerson!   So when Kylie's parents suddenly send her off to a special camp for wayward teens based on basically circumstantial evidence Kylie gets a little of her own medicine.  That said the reason that her parents gave for sending her off felt silly, abrupt and forced.

Judging aside, Kylie is fairly likeable and even a little meek when she first goes to camp.  But it's the way Kylie is so adamant that she's not a supernatural grated on me very quickly. This is a girl who sees a bloodied-up soldier GHOST regularly and yet she still doesn't believe that she's more than human?   I cannot count how many times I've seen ghosts pop out of nowhere.  Oh wait, yes I can.  ZERO!  That's not 'normal', Kylie!  The camp leader continually trying to convince Kylie of her special powers got on my last nerve too.  It was just too repetitive and bogged down the momentum of the storyline.

The other characters were ok if not a little clichéd -- from the hot, sensitive Derek to the 'bad boy' (who really wasn't that bad) Lucas, to the dark, brooding and sarcastic roommate, Della (although she was my favourite character) we had all of the clichéd characters covered.  Sadly these secondary characters didn't add to the storyline.

Call me a picky reader but there are certain things that I like and others that I'm not fond of. I tend to like books that are somewhat similar to other books that I've loved in the past.   I guess I'm hoping to snag another great read.  For example, I liked the fact that this book was set in a boarding school/camp for 'special' teens (a la Percy Jackson) and I love that it had a supernatural element (shout out to Harry Potter, Kelley Armstrong ...). But when one mimics a great book series one has to bring her A-game and this book just didn't cut it and became a poor imitation by not bringing anything new to the table.  So to recap: I like books that are similar ... but not too similar.  I don't try to understand my book love.  The bookworm wants what the bookworm wants.

While the book jacket description of the book enticed me to pick it up sadly the book didn't deliver.  The storyline was very hectic and all over the place yet didn't go anywhere. Kind of like riding a wonky, busted up stationary bike. It's this 'ain't going anywhere' repetitive rut that got in the way of the general pace of the book.  We've got Kylie's roommates Della and Miranda fight constantly.  Check.  Creepy little peeping Tom guy keeps on a'peepin on the girls.  Check.  Kylie keeps believing she's just a normal gal and not a supernatural.  Check!  Kylie is torn between three hot guys.  Check, check and check!

No doubt there's a lot of stuff going on in this book.  It's a lot of different storylines but I never got the feeling that anything (whether it's her roommates' family issues or Kylie's love life) was really dealt with in depth or even resolved at the end of the book. So much time was wasted going over and over the same issues that it negatively affected the oomph of the storyline and made me lose focus.

This book is filled with the typical teenage angst but also deals with a lot of issues relating to sex. I will give I give the author credit for not shying away from talking about premarital sex, STD's, teenage pregnancy etc but the way it was done felt like more of a lecture from your Grade 6 gym teacher or an 80's Afterschool Special. 

I mentioned above that Kylie has three guys vying for her attention.  Oh the woes of youth (that I never had).  Sadly, I didn't buy the love triangle. It seemed like an add on (or an homage to Twilight) and it was obvious from the get-go who Kylie would choose. One minute Kylie hates one of the guys then the next minute she can't stop thinking about him. Add in the fact that Kylie can't stop thinking of her ex-boyfriend and now there's three guys that Kylie is obsessing over. For a book which takes on a very chaste tone in the beginning (I'm not saying that as a negative) this foursome seems a little at odds with the original feel. Kylie goes from being a girl who cherishes her chastity to, a couple of weeks later, making out with every boy who has an interest in her.  Actually I could have done without the Twilight-esque love trian ... um, square.  I picked up this book because I thought it was going to be more of a teenage girl's journey to find her supernatural self ... not who Kylie will pick to be her boyfriend. I've had enough of supernatural love triangles for awhile.

The supernatural element wasn't in the forefront of the storyline as much as I would have liked.  It seemed like it took a back seat to all of the teenage angst which is not what I was expecting.  There were werewolves, fairies, vampires and shapeshifters but their extraordinary powers were overshadowed by the buff bodies of teenage guys and who was the better kisser. 

As for the big ending?  It had a very 'let's throw in this adventure at the last minute' feel to it. Nothing was even hinted at during the bulk of the book but then all of a sudden there's this new storyline that's introduced in the last 50 pages. Come again?  Even the big 'bad guys vs good guys' faceoff at the end of the book was very lackluster and over before I could even get into it.
Needless to say this wasn't a favourite book of mine.  While it had it's moments "Born at Midnight" will not stay with me and will be relegated into the 'I vaguely remember that book' vault in my brain.   

My Rating: 2/5 stars

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