Title: The Secret Hour (Midnighters)
Author: Scott Westerfeld (site)
Published: 2004 by HarperTeen
Price: $8.99 Amazon
Series: Midnighters #1
Synopsis: Nobody is safe in the secret hour.
Strange things happen at midnight in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma.
For one secret hour each night, the town belongs to the dark creatures that haunt the shadows. Only a small group of people know about the secret hour -- only they are free to move about the midnight time.
These people call themselves Midnighters. Each one has a different power that is strongest at midnight: Seer, Mindcaster, Acrobat, Polymath. For years the Midnighters and the dark creatures have shared the secret hour, uneasily avoiding one another. All that changes when the new girl with an unmistakable midnight aura appears at Bixby High School.
Jessica Day is not an outsider like the other Midnighters. She acts perfectly normal in every way. But it soon becomes clear that the dark creatures sense a hidden power in Jessica . . . and they're determined to stop her before she can use it.
A story of courage, shadowy perils, and unexpected destiny, the secret hour is the first volume of the mesmerizing Midnighters trilogy by acclaimed author Scott Westerfeld. (Goodreads)
Initial Thoughts: I'm a big fan of both the Uglies series and Peeps, but it took me a while to get to this series. It seemed a bit 90s-YA to me (if that makes any sense to you), and it turns out I was right-but not necessarily in a bad way.
Review: I really like the idea of a group of teens who somehow experience an hour outside of reality, running around while the rest of the world is frozen. There are so many possibilities! It's also much more terrifying- no one can help you if something goes wrong in that hour. The unique powers were definitely interesting, I wonder how each person's 'ability' is determined? Just luck? Why are they the only ones? I was definitely drawn in by the mystery of their situation, if not by the characters themselves. They just felt a bit one-dimensional. It's not that they're unoriginal, more that they aren't fleshed out. I feel like the book was, overall, a bit roughly sketched. It felt really short (can't believe it was almost 300 pages), I felt like I didn't really get to know them at all. I'm hoping that we get to see more of that in the next book.
Another thing I loved about this series? All of the crazy mathematical rules and weapons. They used pieces of metal with thirteen-letter names to fight their enemies, because they can't handle anything to do with the number 13. I never realized how many 13-letter words there are, it was fun to see which one they'd pull out next. The whole backstory about who the creatures were and why they were there was amazing, original and fantastic. Scott Westerfeld has one hell of an imagination. I wonder if he has vivid, terrifying nightmares? (Maybe that's where these guys came from!) I'm very excited to read the rest of the series, but if I don't see some major character development (or at least exploration), I'm going to be disappointed.
Quick Review: The Secret Hour was a fast read with an original, gripping story. The characters felt a bit unfinished, but it's nothing that a bit of character development in the next few installments wouldn't fix. This is definitely worth a read to fans of fantasy, horror, and all things supernatural.