Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Thriller
Publisher: Hot Key Books
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis: On Marin and Kana’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours – it comes every twenty-eight years. The twins and the rest of their village are making preparations to leave, but Marin finds the eerie rituals frustrating. Locks must be taken off doors, tables must be set as if for dinner – but no one will tell her why.
And then, just as they are about to sail, Marin and Kana’s best friend Line goes missing. They know where he has gone, and that they’re the only ones who will risk saving him. But will the ships wait?
Night is falling. Their island is changing. And something is stirring in the dark.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I gave it 4/5 because I can’t deny that it was an enjoyable read, but I felt it was a little lacking in places.
However, let’s start with the positives. Like I said, it was an enjoyable and relatively quick read. I absolutely adore the premise. A small island experiences fourteen years of day followed by fourteen years of night. But, as night arrives, the villagers must clean and prepare their houses as though for new visitors, before setting sail to the Desert Lands on the equator to escape perpetual darkness. I really liked the world-building and thought it was detailed and intriguing. The authors gave out just enough information to satisfy the reader, but without revealing too much. This means there’s room perhaps for another novel set in this universe, as other lands and cultures are mentioned.
The opening chapter is particularly eerie and I think the authors started it well. I then found it slowed a little bit and the strange preparations for the houses could have had the creepiness heightened just a tad, but it was still interesting to read about. Then, by about 100 pages in, the tension really started to pick up again. See, my overall issue was probably with the pacing. A good opening chapter, then it slowed a little. Picked up considerably at about 100 pages in, but slowed down again by 200 and never quite kept the sense of terror going after that. If the pacing had been a bit better, I would have upped my rating to 4.5/5.
To make it 5/5, I would have liked a little more development with the characters. They were fine, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t love them. I didn’t hold my breath when they were in danger, or root for them to survive. Of course, I wanted them to survive, but I wasn’t 100% invested. The three central characters are Marin, her twin brother Kana, and their friend Line. I did enjoy their dynamic, but preferred Marin out of the three of them. Line sometimes got on my nerves a bit; he could be too relaxed and I’m there like what is wrong with you?! There are strange things going on and you’re not that worried?! Kana was probably the character who had the most development, which I liked, but still Marin seemed the most well-rounded, and the most sensible, to me.
I was genuinely creeped out in places during this novel, but I would class this more as a 14+ YA than a 16+, especially seeing as the protagonists are 14. I think if it had been a 16+ it would have really freaked me out as it’s such a good idea. It reminded me a little of The Village, that film by M. Night Shyamalan which I love and totally traumatised me when I was about 10. However, like I said, the terror waned in places and more so towards the end when I should have been feeling really scared. I found that what was “stirring in the dark” wasn’t quite as terrifying as I had hoped. That’s also why I’ve classed it as a Thriller not a Horror because there isn’t much gore or truly traumatising scenes. But like I said, I think this was more down to the age bracket of the novel than anything else, so I can’t fault them for targeting a slightly younger audience, I am 21 after all!
Overall, I’m interested in seeing if the authors produce anything else in the future. They do know how to capture the eeriness of a small island community and the fear that night brings. I’d like maybe something a little older from them, more 16+ than 14+, but this was still a fun read, despite its flaws.
Have you read Nightfall? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!