I admit it…I’ve been hunting Pokemon with my boys. It may be silly and it may turn people into the walking dead. But for us, it’s been loads of fun. My boys are already very active and are outside riding bikes, playing basketball, or playing soccer until after dark. So I wasn’t concerned about them being more active. Rather, it has given us a lot of together time walking, talking, and laughing. Lots of laughing. This laughing has mainly been at my expense. I am not well-versed in Pokemon lore and my gaming skills are pitiful. The boys find this hilarious, but I am a good sport. Honestly, I am.
Our town is touristy and includes a National Park. For a smaller town, we have a large concentration of Poke Stops downtown, mainly in the National Park area. We have spent hours walking around downtown and up and down the mountain. We have laughed, talked, sampled local goodies, and ran into friends. We’ve even taken the show on the road to Kansas City (lots of Poke Stops around the Sporting KC Arena) and Springfield, MO.
When this Pokemon Go craze started, it slightly reminded me of the underlying premise of Burning Midnight. In the book, shiny and colorful spheres have appeared around the world, and people have become obsessed with hunting them. But that is where the similarities end, for hunting spheres is no game. When a person “burns” the spheres, they gain special characteristics or powers, such as the ability to sing or enhanced sense of smell. The “common” spheres have benefits like resistance to the common cold and the “rare” spheres have bigger benefits like enhanced strength or intelligence.
High school student David Sullivan (“Sully”) hunts, buys, and sells spheres on eBay and at a local flea market. David rose to fame when he found the only cherry red sphere. He sold it to business tycoon Alex Holliday for a large sum of money. However, when Holliday didn’t receive any special enhancement after burning it, he cancelled the check. In addition, his sphere dealerships are rapidly putting independent sellers, like Sully, out of business.
Sully soon meets a mysterious fellow sphere hunter ironically named Hunter. Together they develop a plan to collect and sell spheres. One night they find a gold sphere. No one has ever found one before, and suddenly they are thrust into a high stakes game of cat and mouse with Alex Holliday.
This book is straight up YA. And I have a love/hate relationship with YA. There are some YA books that I absolutely LOVE, Harry Potter and Hunger Games come to mind. And others that I don’t like (I’m not going to name any names). Anything with a whiny or entitled protagonist will drive me insane. I’m not asking for unrealistic characters, just ones that are not overtly annoying.
This was a YA book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters are not perfect. They have flaws and insecurities, and they make mistakes. But they are feelings we all remember having as teenagers. And the key here is that they learn from their mistakes. Hunter is a strong female character, and Sully treats her with respect. He also treats his mom with respect.
The action is fast-paced, the story-building is strong. I read this book quickly because I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen. This was the first book I’ve read by Will McIntosh, but I am definitely going to check out his other books. It was smart and fun, and treats adolescents like intelligent individuals. Love it.
Will my mom like it?? Probably not. She is not into science fiction or fantasy. Also, there are a lot of pop culture references that I am not sure she would get.
“It’s weird, how strangers can become like family.”
“Exhausted from sixteen hours of driving, they checked into a Fairfield Inn with an indoor pool outside Springfield, Missouri.” (Hey, I grew up near Springfield…..any mentions of it make me laugh.”)
ARC: Burning Midnight
Author: Will McIntosh
Date Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press, Random House Children
Source: Net Galley