Thursday, April 23, 2015

*ARC* The Girl at Midnight - Review

The Girl at Midnight #1

By: Melissa Grey

Published: April 28, 2015 by Delacorte Press

368  pages

Source: Netgalley ARC from publisher

(Goodreads / Amazon)

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo'sShadow and BoneThe Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.
   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, though 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.
An interesting fantasy about three races: humans, Avicens and Drakharins. Though all human in bodily form the Avicen have feathers for hair, strangely colored eyes and the ability to wield magic. The Drakharin have dragon scale markings on their face, most have strangely colored eyes and also have magical abilities. These two races have a centuries old war and hatred between them.

Told between alternating POV's between Echo, Caius, and Dorian, the chapters are not clear on who is speaking in the beginning of each. I always find this distracting. Often times it's not immediately clear whose perspective you're reading from and you have to read several sentences to find out. I find myself often going back to reread the previous sentences once I figure out which POV is being written so that I'm sure not to miss any vital information. I much prefer the author to note the beginning of the chapter with whose POV it is. Much like George R.R. Martin does in his books. He doesn't use chapter numbers, as there aren't in this book. But he does mark the start of each chapter with the name of the person who is speaking or thinking at that moment.

Echo, the human in the story, is a runaway orphan living in a New York library. As a young child at the age of 7 she is taken under the protection of The Ala, who is a thousand year old Avicen. Though Echo grows up considering the Avicen her family, many, if not most, of the Avicen do not accept her as one of them. Echo grows up learning a well trained art of thievery, and how to wield magic, and it's the combination of these arts that lead her down a path and a journey to tracking down something called the Firebird. It's a myth by all accounts to both the Avicen and the Drakharin, except to the few who believe it's real and will settle the war between the races once and for all.

The story has a bit of a love triangle but not a traditional one, in that I didn't feel a big connection to the first guy - perhaps because he is overshadowed by the connection between Echo and the other guy and is very minimally included in the story. I'm being vague on purpose because I don't want to spoil anything.

I found the description of the characters to be quite intriguing and beautiful. The Avicen with their feathers and the Drakharin with their dragon scales. It was a little hard to picture what they would look like. I would be interested in seeing a depiction of what the author envisions these beings to look like.

Small personal dislike: as is the case with many YA and NA books these days, there are two gay side characters. Since I'm not a fan of this lifestyle in the books I read, I felt that the flirtatiousness was a bit too much between them. In the midst of the characters running for their lives and evading capture from both of their races, it seemed unnecessary to put so much emphasis on their attraction - especially since they are side characters. I could see the author doing a novella to focus more on these two characters and perhaps it would make sense....that is IF this were a LGBT series. But it's not. So to add more to that aspect of the story would be a major thumbs down for me - possibly a deal breaker on whether I continued the series or not.

As you'll note in my language score, I rated it a "2 - medium" because for a YA novel, the amount of bad language used was quite high, given our main character is only 17 years old yet she has quite the vocabulary of colorful language.

There's action and battle and love. It's really quite a great story and I really enjoyed it. Fantasy fans should definitely check out this book! I'm highly intrigued for what's to come in book two.

Favorite Quotes:
"Sometimes," the Ala said, "when I'm feeling sad, I like to be around all these books. They're very good at making you forget your troubles. It's like having a million friends, wrapped in paper and scrawled in ink."

I am so screwed, Echo thought. Or I passed screwed five miles back.

"There are some things more important than taking sides," Caius said. 

"There's always a choice, Echo. Even if it's a bad one."

"I get that you're a bigger-picture kind of guy, but you have to have some personal stake in this. It can't just be for the greater good." ... "Nobody's that good. Nobody's that selfless."

Language Rating: 2 (medium)
Mature Content Rating: 0 (none)
Final Rating: 4 stars


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