A Brilliant and Original High Concept Sci-fi

A Brilliant and Original High Concept Sci-fiBurning Midnight by Will McIntosh
Published by Pan Macmillan
Published on February 11th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 305
Format: ARC
Source: Pan MacMillan
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RRP: $16.99
4 Stars

How much would you pay for superpowers? Fast-paced action adventure with a world-changing twist...
For fans of The Maze Runner and The 5th Wave, this debut YA novel from Hugo Award-winner Will McIntosh pits four teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.
Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn't pay much - Alex Holliday's stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers - but it helps him and his mum make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-coloured spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at maths, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement - and the more expensive the sphere.
When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. What they find will change more than just their lives... Because the entire world fights over spheres, but no one knows why they're here or what their powers are... until now.

I received a copy of this book from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

SUMMARY

Overnight they appeared – spheres that granted enhanced properties like straight teeth, intelligence, and strength when a pair were ‘burned’. Some were rarer than others, and so a business grew around hunting these spheres. And that’s how Sully and Hunter met. But no one know if these mysterious spheres are a gift from God or something far worse – after all, they used to say cigarettes were good for you, right?

PLOT

Sully is known as the kid who lost the Cherry Reds – when he sold them to an insidious collector, they didn’t grant powers but simply reseeded the Earth with more spheres. Sully’s $2.5 million vanished and now he’s back to collecting and selling at the flea market. He teams up with a hunter named Hunter who’s figured out likely places people haven’t looked yet. Together they find the rarest of all, a Gold sphere, and its twin, but they’re faced with being murdered for the Golds or burning them with no idea what will happen.

CHARACTERS

Sully seemed like a regular kid who just lucked out on the deal of a lifetime. He’s trying to make money buying and selling spheres because he lives alone with his mother who has a crappy job and they might have to move away if they can’t afford rent. Although he’s largely driven by financial motivations, the relationships he develops with Hunter and Mandy, who he met during the novel, and his ongoing relationship with Dom, was really lovely to watch.

Hunter was your typical badass YA female character, ninja-like and almost super-powered, even though she hadn’t burned any spheres. She couldn’t afford to. She was one of those ‘I’m capable and I don’t need a man’ types, which is why I liked it when she fell in love with Sully. Oops. Is that a spoiler? Anyway, it showed her gentle side, but it also re-established that her selfish nature and how when she felt something was for the best she wouldn’t listen to the other characters at all, even though she was supposed to love them. I think this self-reliance was due to her being homeless for a few years and never having anyone to count on.

I loved Dom and Mandy. Dom seemed like a great big brother character and it was cool to see lots of diversity in Mandy, a gay Asian girl who kept her friendship with Sully and Dom despite her distrust of burning spheres. They really were the perfect supporting character, arguing against Sully and Hunter’s more selfish ideas in a realistic way.

WRITING

I had no idea this was going to lead to where it led and so I was pleasantly surprised with the massive plot twist. It really came out of nowhere and seemed really imaginative. I liked the writing fair enough, I didn’t really see anything wrong with it.

PACING

I did feel like the novel was slow to get going because for a long time we didn’t know if the spheres were bad or good or really what they were or even how they were used. Everything was eventually revealed but it took its sweet time and sometimes I was flipping through the pages for the next part and sometimes I was glad to put the book down at the end of the chapter. I will say I did have a big battle of willpower not to check the final pages to see who survived and what the outcome was, boy that was hard to fight but I’m glad I fought it because all was revealed in time.

OVERALL

This novel was just so unexpected. I thought it was going to be about superheroes, not making money looking for the spheres to sell to people for enhanced attributes. I certainly was not expecting where it eventually took us!

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo specialises in reading and reviewing contemporary, paranormal, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She especially loves novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, healing, and assassins.

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