The Secret Hour, by Scott Westerfeld

I’ve been delighted by Scott Westerfeld‘s writing since I picked up Uglies (though I found Leviathan more to my personal liking). He writes stuff that’s fun and enjoyable and that doesn’t make you think too hard, so far as I can tell. That’s certainly true of this first Midnighters series book, but it took me a long time to really get going with it.

The plot goes like this: Jessica Day moves from Chicago to Bixby, Oklahoma at the beginning of the school year. Apart from being the new girl, she’s also made uncomfortable by a couple of goth-y kids at school who keep looking at her like they know something about her. Which they do. We find out through one of them, Rex, that Jessica is like him and his friends — that is to say, a Midnighter who can walk around in the “hidden hour” that happens right at midnight and which for other people goes by in a blink. This is cool for Rex and company, because they don’t have much fun during the day (the sun is too bright, the light isn’t right, and for one of them everyone’s thoughts are too loud) but Jessica doesn’t have a problem with the day, just the scariness of the night when strange animals seem to come out to hunt her.

I know that this is the first of a trilogy, but really, it took so long to get to the part where Jessica knows what’s going on and she’s being chased and something is actually happening in the book. I almost put it down for good more than once, but it’s such a quick read that I really wanted to find out what happened. And I’m glad I kept with it — the reveal on why the “darkling” animals are out to get Jessica is kind of okay, but the very very end is chilling and more than enough to make me want to pick up the next book.

Rating: 7/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2004, A to Z Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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