Second Look: Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everybody is enjoying a nice holiday season with family and friends (including family and friends that happen to be fictional book characters). In less than 36 hours, we’ll be closing out 2015, which means I have to throw out one last book review (ya know, since I’ve written so many this year… *cough* two *cough*).

NightfallThe Story: Imagine living in a place where daylight lasts for fourteen YEARS. In the small island town of Bliss, the sun rises every 28 years… 14 years of light, 14 years of night. When the sun sets, the people of Bliss pack up their homes and prepare to leave the island for the Desert Lands, a safe place where they will live for the next 14 years as frigid, icy darkness descends on their home. Staying behind means certain death.

14-year-old twins Marin and Kana and their friend, Line, don’t understand the bizarre rituals that must be performed before leaving, except for a cryptic message left on the island cliffs: The houses must be without stain.

When Line goes missing before the boats depart for the Desert Lands, Kana and Marin are determined to bring him back. But when they find him and return to the loading area, the boats and their people are gone. They’re stranded, and the island they call home is waking up. It’s then that the three teens understand the residents of Bliss were preparing the island for someone (or something) else. If they don’t get off the island soon, it’s not just the plummeting temperatures that will kill them.

The Low-Down: Let me start by saying that Nightfall is an uber-creeptastic ride. Nightfall takes everything that you’re afraid of and preys on those fears. Three young teens completely alone in a setting of unending darkness… unseen creatures in the night stalking and hunting them… sounds more like a Stephen King novel, doesn’t it? The teens’ fear is palpable as they try to find their way off the island in the freezing cold, and making terrifying discoveries about their home as they go. I’ll also say that reading it before bed gave me some SUPER WEIRD dreams.

The only thing I didn’t care for (and this isn’t even really a complaint, more of an observation) is we never really get a chance to truly *know* the characters, nor do they show any real development. The book is written in the third person, primarily from Marin’s perspective, however we ultimately see what’s happening at various points in the story through the eyes of all three characters. We do learn some backstory about their lives prior to the sun setting, but nothing in depth. As the story progresses, we don’t see much character growth despite the ridiculously awful circumstances these kids are in (and, let’s be honest, any situation can be turned into a learning opportunity, right??). Granted,  Nightfall is pretty intense on its own and doesn’t need to offer an in-depth character study. But someone who is looking for a great emotional connection to the characters may not find it here.

The Bottom Line: Nightfall is a super creepy and un-put-downable survival story. Characterizations were not as strong as I would have liked, but not bad by any means. If you’re into suspenseful survival stories, this one will suck you right in.



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