The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld, author of the popular Uglies series, is composed of three works. They are The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon.
The trilogy begins with high school student Jessica Day moving to Bixby, a small town in Oklahoma, because her mother has landed a job with a local aerospace company. Jessica soon is befriended by four other teens with which she shares two special attributes. They were all born at the stroke of midnight and are able to move around the world during the mysterious “blue time,” a secret hour which exists between the stroke of midnight and the first second of every new day. Each Midnighter also has a special talent that is individual to them.
Throughout the series, the five struggle against ancient shape-shifting monsters (called “darklings”) that live in the blue time. The darklings quickly target Jessica as her talent threatens their ultimate goal - to escape the secret hour in order to hunt humanity for food. Jessica and her friends also have to face down a fifty year old conspiracy by humans in the area who have been working with the darklings over the years.
Like the Uglies series, these books straddle the line between the science fiction and young adult genres. Two big differences are that Midnighters is set in the present rather than in an imagined future and the central conflict is against an ancient evil rather than the policies of a dystopian government. The feel of the tale falls much more strongly on young adult side in the first book and tilts to the science fiction side by the third.
My one major quibble with the series is more a quibble with how many books of genre fiction are being marketed these days - in multiple volumes. Many will stretch a story out to achieve a certain number of titles, most often a trilogy. In order to pump up the page count, unnecessary fluff at the start of subsequent books is inserted to catch the reader up on the story.
In some authors’ hands, this technique can feel awkward and even kill a reader’s interest. To his credit, Westerfeld does keep the recap to a minimum. As the characters are consistent, the time frame covered is reasonably short, and the story as a whole is well-paced, these three works could have easily have been published as one book.
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