Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Review: What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”

On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.

What We Saw at Night is a great mystery novel, and Jacquelyn Mitchard's writing is amazing as usual. I've read her Midnight Twins trilogy, so I had high expectations of this book. However, while reading it, I realized this book wasn't really for me. Don't get me wrong - it has a captivating plot and good characters. I just felt it was a little slow after the first half. But if you love horror mystery books, I think you should definitely check this one out!

I found the concept of the main characters having XP really intriguing. I searched up the disorder after reading the book, and found out it was completely true. In fact, the people suffering from it are even called 'Children of the Night.' I found myself trying to imagine what life would be like if I had this disorder. Imagine not being able to see the sun, or even go out during the day without putting your life at risk! I really felt for Allie, Rob and Juliet because of this. I found myself wishing for them to have better lives.

The incorporation of Parkour in this novel also intrigued me. I find Parkour fascinating - I have ever since I watched a French movie called Yamakasi, which was all about this sport. Reading about it was amazing - the different styles of it, the variety of moves, the beauty of it in general. I found the credibility a little lacking, though. Parkour is extremely difficult to learn. It takes years of practice. But Allie and Rob seem to have mastered it in almost no time. Juliet, at least, said she had spent ages learning it.

I have mixed feelings about Allie's character in this book. She was brave, kind, and determined, but at the same time she was really timid. She seemed to live in Juliet's shadow, always doing what she tells her to. Juliet was the driving force, the leader. Allie and Rob were like her puppets. At the beginning, Juliet reminded me a lot of Alaska from Looking for Alaska by John Green. They're both fearless and carefree, and have decided to die on their own terms. But that's where the similarities end. Juliet is one of the most ambiguous characters I've read about. She's extremely complex, and I liked that. I spent most of the novel trying to figure her out. Of course, I never managed to!

Rob, I felt was slightly lacking as a character. I liked him in the beginning, but later he kind of drifted into the background. His opinion wasn't voiced much, either. I did like his wisdom, though. Even though all three main characters are juniors in high school, Rob seemed mature beyond his age. No wonder Allie looked to him for support and safety. Allie's relationship with Rob developed a bit too fast for my liking. It was literally like one second Rob was into Juliet, the next second he switched to Allie. Their feelings for each other were true, though, and I think they were really sweet together.

I loved the first half of this book - the parts where the three of them were just having fun, Juliet teaching Parkour to Allie and Rob, and all of them making humourous jokes. I normally like mysteries, but this was slightly darker. I would say that this book is definitely for the older YA age group, since some themes are clearly adult. A lot of things began to change after the first half - the characters especially. You would think they were completely different characters, the way they were acting! I got quite confused while trying to keep up with their mood swings.

What We Saw at Night will definitely keep you at the edge of your seat - the suspense is absolutely thrilling, and you'll find it hard to stop yourself from reading ahead. I definitely did! One thing I wasn't expecting - this book is not a standalone. There's a sequel, and maybe more after that. I honestly expected the plot threads to tie up by the end, because I believe they would easily be able to. But the end shocked me! I will, of course, read the next book, since I really want to know what happens next.

There are a lot of twists in this book. A lot! Some will leave you reeling in shock, while others you may have seen coming. The ending is speculative, and I hope it will be cleared up in the sequel, What We Lost. Overall, I liked What We Saw at Night, and it's definitely worth checking out. Jacquelyn Mitchard has done a great job in creating such an original and enthralling plot!

Rating: 3/5


  1. Sounds like a book for me. I know it wasn't the best for you, but I am a horror fan, so....
    Great review, appreciate the honesty and candor.


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