(Click the book cover to see on Goodreads)
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Author: Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski
Length: 346 pages
Publication: September 22nd 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.
‘Nightfall’ is written in third person omniscient and follows three characters: Marin, Line, and Kana. Unfortunately, even with an outside person telling the story, there were quite a few key elements missing in the narration. As a result, parts of the story were lacked explanation and clarity.
Pacing: The pacing comes and goes. One moment the story moves along at a clip, the next it drags. Overall, though, the two balance themselves out to make for a quick read with a comfortable pace. Though, given the genre, a faster pace would’ve been preferred.
World: The world, while unique and inventive, seemed impossible. On certain parts of this world day lasts for fourteen years and night lasts for fourteen years. During these times, the sun and moon move very little in the sky and the years are marked by their placements. Yet, other locations on this world, other continents, have three days of sun and three days of night. It seems unlikely, if not impossible, for these two worlds to exist together based on planetary rotation and axis tilt.
Writing: The writing is sparse. This is quite common in fast-paced, action-packed stories and yet, much of the world and detail is lost because of this. Additionally, some of the action scenes lack clarity. They’re rushed in order to cause drama and tension, but in so doing, the characters don’t move fluidly from point A to point B. Their actions are confusing. Thus, disturbing the tension in the story.
Non-Spoilered Plot: Night and day rotate every fourteen years on this island and while a prosperous location presents itself during the day, you’d best be gone with night arrives. This is the rule. The law. Yet, in the attempts to save their trapped friend, Kana and Marin get themselves marooned on the island. Now, they’ll find out why no one stays on the island for Night.
Character: Line, Kana, and Marin are all fourteen years old and their age shows. While realistic, their childishness is bothersome and frustrating because it causes them to make foolish choices. Though, without their foolish choices, the book wouldn’t exist.
Plot: The main plot of this novel can be classified as ‘tragedy’ with the characters’ childish mindset being their flaw, which leads to their great mistake: searching for a necklace so close to leaving the island(Line) and going back to find their friend so close to leaving the island(Marin and Kana). This results in them being left behind because no one noticed them missing. (Another foolish mistake to not let people know.) But of course, they can’t survive on the island in complete darkness for fourteen years. They have to find a way off.
But while they rest to regain their strength for the long trek around the island to the only remaining boat off the island, the Night inhabitants come to kill them. Now, getting off the island isn’t their only priority. They’ll have to survive long enough against the Night predators to reach the boat that will whisk them away to the desert lands. But everything is working against them: Line’s injury succumbing to gangrene, the Night inhabitants capable of tracking them via smell, and Kana discovering he’s half-human, half-Night creature.
By some miracle, Marin stumbles upon the herb to cure Line’s gangrene twenty feet down into a sink hole with rushing water at the bottom. What’s more, she manages to climb in and out of the hole even as the walls are crumbling around her at even the minutest of touches and retrieve the herb with more than enough to spare after saving Line’s life.
By some other miracle, even as Marin and Line are dangling off a sheer cliff face with nothing but ice to hold onto, Kana comes to the rescue, saving them from the Night creatures. And with the help of Kana’s Night creature mother, they dive into an ice-cold river to evade the other Night creatures to reach the perfectly intact ship resting in a cave, which just so happens to be big enough to sail out on the open ocean with. The best part is when despite their constant talk of hypothermia, not a single one of them succumbs to this in their dripping wet clothes in the freezing air.
But what does that matter? It’s not like the three of them will survive out on the open ocean even after they manage to make it there completely unharmed. They’ll never reach the desert lands. Why? Because the ocean is salt-water and they didn’t pack enough fresh water to sustain them for the journey nor will a measly portion of fish they caught sustain them through the journey to the desert lands. While unique and entertaining, it is due to the inconsistencies, countless miracles that saved them, and the lack of clarity, that I leave my rating of this book, ‘Nightfall’, at three stars.