Granted, there's been a long string of paranormal young adult books featuring a troubled yet good-hearted female protagonist. The pervasiveness of the type doesn't mean these books are any less entertaining. Born at Midnight, first book of the new Shadow Falls series, is another title to add to the list of quality young adult stories. While some elements of the story are familiar to us readers, this is nevertheless a well-crafted book with much to like about it.
The book is written by C.C. Hunter, who also writes successful romantic suspense novels under the name Christie Craig. This is the author's first foray into young adult novels, and she's done a wonderful job. Here's a blurb from the author's site:
Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap lately. Her parents are getting a divorce for who the heck knows why. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn't put out. And her grandmother died because . . . well, older people do that. But now, Kylie's acquired a stalker and she hasn't a clue what he wants or how to get rid of him . . . and she really wants to get rid of him because apparently she's the only one who sees him. Thinking she may be losing it, her parents send her off to see a psychologist who gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it's a camp for troubled teens.
They thought wrong.
Kylie's surrounded by vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shapeshifters. And if she believes what they tell her, she's one of them. They're just not sure exactly how she fits in. As Kylie struggles to cope with the realization that these creatures even exist, and the fact that she might not be human, she's got two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vying for her attention. And they can just keep vying. Kylie's determined that before she lets her heart loose on love, she needs to unearth the truth. What does the ghost want? Who can and can't she trust? And most of all . . . What is she?
I was thrilled to have received this ARC, since the idea of a paranormal summer camp sounded like all sorts of fun. And indeed, it was. I sat down to read just a chapter or two and was quickly pulled in. Before I knew it, I was nearing the end of the book and eager for more.
The great appeal of this book is the pace. Things start off with a kick, swinging right into a charged scene between protagonist Kylie Galen and her parents, who have just announced their impending divorce. Within just the first chapter we get a good sense of Kyle and her life. The pace doesn't slow as the situation escalates and Kylie's world becomes increasingly complicated.
I give the author massive amounts of credit for creating a protagonist that's likable and believable. Kylie's not perfect -- she struggles to push beyond her preconceptions, fear, and lack of self-identity. Indeed, her perfectly depicted confusion makes for a personal journey that's highly realistic despite the inclusion of witches, vampires, and ghosts.
This book isn't just about Kylie's self-actualization, though. There's a varied band of secondary characters, each with their own tale to be told. From arrogant vampires to shy faeries, everyone can find something to like about this group -- especially a certain mysterious, smokin' hot werewolf, if, you know, you like that sort (and I do!). And it isn't all fun and games, despite the prevalent light-hearted tone. There are some serious issues handled here, problems and questions dealt with by many teenagers today, even the non-paranormal ones. I appreciated how the author addressed these things responsibly without ever turning preachy.
I expect that teens and adults alike will appreciate this book and this promising new series. Born at Midnight is scheduled for release on March 29, 2011. The second book, Awake at Dawn, comes out October 2011. If you're interested in this book, check out this great giveaway contest at Blkosiner's Book Blog and more reviews at: Urban Fantasy Investigations, Knight Reader, and Books and Things.