Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: NIGHTFALL by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

Rating: 2/5 stars

I decided on this audiobook because I wanted an October-themed read, and I guess this was technically one, but it wasn’t really what I was expecting and it didn’t satisfy my desire for a spooky book. It wasn’t scary at all and it had only minor suspense elements, but it does take place almost primarily during Night in the forest with strange creatures.

Marin, Kana, and Line are from the island of Bliss, which gets 14 years of sunlight and then 14 years of Night. That concept alone was intriguing enough to get me to read the book, but it’s not really what the book’s about.

The sun is setting and it is almost Night, and the inhabitants must leave the island and travel to the desert for safety. Just as the boats are about to set sail, Line goes missing, and Marin and Kana go into the forest in search of him. It is not hard to guess that the trio gets left behind and has to survive Night on the island, presumably for fourteen years, until everyone comes back.

This book had its creepy and mysterious moments, but something was just missing. It felt like a mixture of Midwinterblood and Bird Box, and I frequently thought of both those books while reading this one.

I was mostly enjoying the story until about halfway through when I started to lose interest because everything started to turn toward paranormal elements, and it honestly felt like a cop-out to me. Like there was no way to explain certain events without introducing these inhuman creatures. And I didn’t like that. I don’t really like paranormal or supernatural stories, especially when they catch me off guard. I didn’t know this book was going to be that way prior to starting it, so I was a little disappointed when it happened.

I almost always don’t like supernatural creatures in stories because they are never explained well enough. Where did these things come from anyway? The people have lived on Bliss for fourteen years yet have never seen the creatures? We found out where they were hiding all that time, but it just seems so improbable that neither race would run into the other in all those years.

Another thing that disappointed me was that I expected the characters to not be able to see at all when it became Night on the island—it would be pitch black darkness. But there’s a moon. And they can kind of see. So that made the story a little more lackluster because it lowered the stakes for them. Have you ever run around in complete blackness, no moon or sliver of light at all? It’s terrifying. You have no idea which way anything is, no depth perception. You have to rely completely on your other senses to get you where you’re going. And I kind of thought that’s how this story would be—and it would have been cool to listen to on audio because I could lie in bed and close my eyes to imagine myself in their place. But it wasn’t like that. The characters can see and they describe things they’re seeing all the time, even if their vision is rather poor during Night.

Also, this story was told from a third-person omniscient perspective, which can make it difficult to keep track of who’s thinking what or who’s saying what at times. Because of this, I did feel a bit detached from the characters throughout the story.

Overall, Nightfall was not what I was expecting or hoping for, so it was ultimately disappointing and forgettable to me. But I don’t think it was a bad book; it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I would still encourage you to read it if it sounds interesting to you, but now you might have a better idea of the minor details that mattered to me and how they were presented in the story.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, was the song included at the end of the audiobook called “The Other Side of Me” by Celia Rose. The lyrics sounded like she wrote them based on this book, which is pretty neat.

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