Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Girl at Midnight - Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight book cover
UK cover
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source/Format: Borrowed from Gaby/Netgalley (Thanks!) || ARC/e-galley
[I received this book for review. This in no way affects my thoughts or opinions.]

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

While I was contemplating about how to write about The Girl at Midnight, I was inspired by the word “midnight” in the title. It might not have any relation to the actual tale, but I thought it’d be fun to share twelve thoughts (representing the twelve numbers on a traditional clock face) on The Girl at Midnight.

1: I liked the two races – the Avicen and the Drakharin. The Avicen mostly reside under the ground in New York City, and are often described with different plumage to represent different types of birds. The Drakharin are very similar to dragons, with scaly features and an affinity for heat and fire. Both races are very unique, but the one thing they share in common is their hatred for one another.

2: I liked the lore behind the Firebird, and their journey to find it. The Firebird is the only way that the war between the two races will come to an end, so it’s obviously important to both sides. It was interesting to learn the secret of the Firebird, and to come along as Echo, Caius and their friends go on a journey to find it.

3: I liked the settings. I love when novels are set in New York, mostly as a resident of nearly five years now, and it’s even more special that the New York Public Library is an important place in it! But I also enjoyed the fact that Grey allowed Echo to travel between many different places; that was a really fun surprise.

4: I was okay with the non-romantic relationships. I love how Echo finds an adoptive parental figure in the Ala, a member of the Avicen council, and friends-that-are-family in Ivy and Rowan. I adore that she has relationships with other Avicen who prove useful to her, like Jasper and Perrin. Caius and Dorian have another sort of relationship, and challenge the dynamics between the Avicen and Drakharin.

5: I was okay with Echo. Echo is a collector of words, a skilled thief and very, very clever. She’s definitely a gal I wouldn’t mind knowing, as she could help me out in a pinch with her skills, wit and sheer loyalty to the people she loves.

6: I was okay with Caius. He appeared to be strong and decisive as a member of the Drakharin, but wound up surprising me with his notions of resolving the Avicen-Drakharin conflict with peace.

7: I was not so fond of the main romance. It wasn’t because there were actually two different love interests (note: NOT a real love triangle), but rather because both relationships felt a little underdeveloped.

8: I was not so fond of the jumps in third person narrative. While we mainly follow Echo and Caius, occasionally, the novel uses the point of views of Ivy, Jasper and Dorian. It was a little jarring to be tossed into someone else’s thoughts or feelings unexpectedly.

9: I was not so fond of the fact that I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters. While it’s not always, it certainly helps improve my opinion of any read if I find at least one character (preferably a main character) that I can really connect with.

10: Grey’s writing is really great though. It’s very easy to read and includes just the right amount of details and dialogue. The story pacing was smooth and steady, and I feel like it flowed very naturally. I didn’t even realize how quickly I was going to be able to read this one, but before I knew it, I’d hit the end!

11: It seems to me like this would actually make a great film, effects and all. I can actually imagine a lot of these scenes brought to life, especially the action sequences. It would also be interesting to see the Avicen and Drakharin races brought to life!

12: My curiosity for the next book is pretty mild. It would be interesting to see whether the hostilities between the two races can ever be resolved, and of course, to discover what happens to Echo and Caius. But I wouldn’t run out and grab the sequel right away.

The Girl at Midnight is, objectively, a good fantasy YA debut. Readers will be attracted to the combination of whimsical lore and relatable emotions; they will be hard-pressed not to enjoy this story. Personally, while I enjoyed being immersed in Grey’s writing, I’m still uncertain about my overall feelings towards The Girl at Midnight. I’d still encourage you to give it a shot if the summary appeals to you at all though!

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