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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Midnight City
Format Acquired: Galley
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Publishing House: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9781250009074
Source of Copy: NetGalley

Summary: Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone - a powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to a state of complete subservience. But the Tone has one critical flaw. It only affects the population once they reach their early twenties, which means that there is one group left to resist: Children.

Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, and his current target is Mira Toombs, an infamous treasure seeker with a price on her head. It's not long before Holt bags his prey, but their instant connection isn't something he bargained for. Neither is the Assembly ship that crash-lands near them shortly after. Venturing inside, Holt finds a young girl who remembers nothing except her name: Zoey.

As the three make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, they encounter young freedom fighters, mutants, otherwordly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and the amazing powers that Zoey is beginning to exhibit. Power that suggest she, as impossible as it seems, may just be the key to stopping the Assembly once and for all.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first book of the Conquered Earth series.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads)


With a lot of our fellow bloggers raving about Midnight City, we knew we had to try to get a copy. We were curious whether the hype was living up to the actual book, but what did we get? Well, for starters, all that was missing from this book were the fairy tale characters. This book somehow seemed to fall under dystopia, science fiction (you know, the one with lasers, and aliens, and stuff), fantasy (zombies), and apocalyptic fiction.

We found that there seemed to be a latent disconnection between the characters and the readers. Holt and his lot of random misfits were uninteresting and flat at most. The characters were just that-characters from a book that stayed in a book. We didn't feel anything towards the characters, and it is suspect that this is where it goes wrong. Give the readers characters they could relate to, and they'll be sold. Give them confused characters who don't know who they are as persons, and you'll confuse the readers too. 

The pacing was remarkably slow in the first half of the book, then the latter half attempted to jam in new characters, new turn of events, and new possibilities, which made a confusing book all the more baffling. 

This book was hard to finish for the both of us, and it was equally hard to swallow down Mitchell's attempts at romance. Contrary to what the blurb promised, we didn't detect any immediate romantic attraction Holt had for Mira, and their romance seemed a tad forced.  In fact, it seemed as if the author had a checklist to what could possibly elude to a romantic tension. Of the proper age? Check. Emerald eyes that Holt hates one moment and adores the next stuck on infinite loop throughout the book? Yes. Mint-scented hair every few chapters? Ditto. Cheesy dancing under the stars? Aye aye! So they're stuck together for quite a long time? Uh-huh. Holt turns into a cheeseball, no more "Survival dictates it." stuff? Of course. Mira rid of her tough girl exterior and behaves like a total girl? Positive.

The action scenes in this book were frankly, lacking. We couldn't feel anything for the characters as they ventured into new territory and, as said in the blurb, encountered aliens, pirates and freedom fighters. We couldn't feel the tension, the danger and the thrill of their expedition. The very confusing world building didn't help either, while we could see similarities with War of the Worlds mainly due to the tripod-like aliens, it wasn't easy to imagine the different settings that Mitchell describes in the book. The Strange Lands, the Drowning Plains and Midnight City itself. The artifact combinations, while interesting, could have been fleshed out more.

At the end of the book, questions are still left unsolved: Why was Holt a Heedless? And does being Heedless really mean you're immune to the Tone? (if you've read the latter part of the book, I think you'll understand why we asked this question) 

Midnight City, I guess we are not your intended audience at all.


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