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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
What We Saw At Night - Jacquelyn Mitchard We got this in at work from the publisher and I decided to give it a read, as the cover copy sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, while the cover copy sold me, the rest of the book really failed to live up to my expectations. It’s not a horrible book, but the majority of the plot dragged on and I felt myself losing interest.The first quarter of the book was good. I liked these teens, and how they live with Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP). I kinda wished that Mitchard would really get into the mindset of how the nighttime is so fundamentally different from the day, especially from a teen’s perspective, but all she does is throw around a few vampire jokes. (Which is a shame, because I’ve seen it done before, with Scott Westerfeld’s Midnighters series.) I even liked Allie really trying to have what could pass as a normal life, with a babysitting job and even discussing the potential of going to college. There was a lot in the beginning that could have lead to a really solid book with good characters and atmosphere.However, one of the biggest problems of the book is that elements drop in and out of the plot at random, and don’t really add up to a compelling story. And I have to start by mentioning Rob and Juliet—they felt more like friends of convenience for Allie, and I never got the sense that the three of them were as close as they said they were. Allie’s whole fantasy about marrying Rob even feels like a child’s fantasy, marrying the only boy she’s ever been close to. I never got the sense that any of these kids would be willing to fight for each other, much less jump off buildings for each. Juliet was especially frustrating—it felt like Mitchard was forcing to make her character more ‘mysterious’ by randomly running away for long stretches of time. Rob doesn’t really add anything to the story, and it does not help that a love triangle is actually forced in here—and it doesn’t even feel like a love triangle! I felt no chemistry between Rob and Allie, much less Rob and Juliet.The mystery is incredibly weak, and the revelations feel too unconnected. By the end of the book, part of me felt that Allie’s guesses were wrong and she was trying to desperately pin the blame on someone who wasn’t responsible for the original crime. And that isn’t good when I’m calling the heroine’s conclusions into question and I’m not supposed to be doing that. The mystery only came up when it was convenient to the plot, so it had a tendency to randomly drop in and out of Allie’s life. (I have to give this one point to the plot—it actually takes place over the course of a year.) The climax and ending are incredibly weak, and it feels like Mitchard stretched a very thin plot to work the book into an unnecessary series. And the parkour element—it’s another thing that felt forced into this book. Again, there’s already a solid hook of having teens wander around at night, because it’s the only time they can go outside. I wouldn’t mind the parkour even if it was Juliet’s idea of “HEY LET’S DO SOMETHING COOL.” What I can’t get is that all of their parents are okay with this? I’m all for good relationships between teens and parents, but it feels way too plot-convenient that all three sets of parents would be okay with their teenagers jumping off of buildings with very little training.The more I thought about this book after finishing it, the less I liked it and the more problematic elements began to pop up. My biggest disappointment was that there could have been a great, creepy atmosphere and nice exploration to living the “night life” (if you will), but Mitchard doesn’t quite grasp this, and the other elements—like the mystery and the parkour—feel tacked on to make the book more interesting, but they ultimately fail. It is very unlikely that I will recommend this book, much less pick up the follow-up.