Title: The Girl At Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, and ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act. Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants... and how to take it. But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
Where do I begin? It's rare for me to give a book a two star rating, but for The Girl At Midnight, this had to be done.
It's sad to say that I went into this book with pretty high expectations only to be let down. With a gorgeous cover, and urban fantasy partially set in New York with two opposing supernatural creatures, one bird-like and the other dragon-like, this sounded right up my alley. Well I was wrong.
There is nothing outright terrible about The Girl At Midnight, it's just that it wasn't entirely original or stood out enough against many other young adult fantasy books.
We start off with seventeen year old, Echo, who fits in the normal criteria for stereotypical young adult human female heroine. She was funny at times, but I could already see that she was a textbook case of special snowflake syndrome. The way Melissa Grey writes Echo makes her seem entitled to Avicen life, and honestly she could be a bit whiny.What bothered me about Echo as a main character was how oblivious she could be to the fact there's a war going on, instead of describing every aspect of Caius' appearance, even though you have a boyfriend and you just met this guy literally a day ago.
I truly liked Caius in the beginning. I thought his position as Dragon Prince and leader of the Drakharin would lead to some interesting plot development, but no, it is barely apart of the plot. His character fell really flat for me. There were so many routes that Grey could have took with his character, such as his falling out with his sister, Tanith. I wanted to know more about her, and if their falling out caused her bloodthirsty attitude. But no, Tanith is painted as a stereotypical villain with no backstory and seems so one-dimensional.
A major part of a low rating for this book was that most of the characters weren't fleshed out enough, which made it hard to connect to any of them. Such as Ivy, Dorian, Jasper, were all interesting characters that I would have loved to know more about. I could see how Grey tried to incorporate them as characters, by giving them their own chapters, but that honestly took a lot away from an already short novel, and gave the story too much perspectives.
The plot wasn't the most original in the world. From the beginning of the novel I couldn't help but draw similarities to Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Echo is pickpocket/thief who is taken in and raised by an other-worldly creature, and can use the shadow dust magic of their world. Similar to Karou being a thief, raised by the other world creature, Chimera, in Laini Taylor's books, and can use magical beads to grant wishes. The inbetween similar portals in Laini Taylor's book. Also the Avicen vs. Drakharin was so glaring similar to the Angels vs. Chimera in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's a another striking similarity that definitely became apparent when I've had enough of this DoSaB copy fest, but it's a spoiler so I'll spare you, if you're still interested in reading this book.
Basic round up of Girl At Midnight Character's to their Daughter of Smoke and Bone counterparts:
Echo = Karou, Caius = Akiva, Ala = Brimstone, Tanith = Jael/Liraz, Altair = Thiago
Honestly with fantasy there's bound to similarities between various books, but when it becomes repeatedly overdone to the point where it looks like it's copying another book, that's where I draw the line. (I would highly recommend you read the glory that is the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy
prior instead of to this book.)
Now that bit is over, back to main dislikes of the plot. While reading this book it seemed that so much, but also nothing at all was happening in this story. The beginning felt very rushed as everything was crammed at us all at once. There was very little world building which can be detrimental in a fantasy novel. Echo is trying to search for the Firebird to end the war but we don't even know why the Avicen and Drakharin are at war, and this happens to be a major part of the plot.
The scenes where they were actively searching for the Firebird were so short and spread out, that a majority of the time, they were just waiting around wondering what to do next. If I calculated it right I'm pretty sure this book takes place over the course of four days, give or take.
I really don't want to bring down an already sinking ship, but I must address the romance in this novel. In the beginning of the novel Echo has an Avicen boyfriend, Rowan, pretty much run of the mill in the pre-established relationships in YA novels. She describes him in excessive detail and how he makes her stomach flip. But then after she goes on her journey like two days later, she meets Caius and he is suddenly the center of the universe.
" The most beautiful and terrifying creature she had ever seen. "
" He was sickeningly handsome, verging on beautiful. "
" His eyes were the kind of green that would make emeralds weep with envy. "
The amount of descriptive sentences on Caius could last me a life time. I would normally brush this off and move on, but it was the fact that after two days Echo seemed to forgot she had a boyfriend. I have managed to avoid insta-love novels for awhile now, but then I encountered this. This insta-love/love triangle took away from so much of the essential story line. I would have much rather read about the actual war going on than Echo and Caius gazing into each other's eyes for extended periods of times.
Not every aspect of his novel was terrible. I particularly liked the descriptions of the different cities they went to such as Kyoto and Strasbourg. I appreciated Ivy and Echo's friendship (yay for female friendships), and I also liked Dorian and Caius' friendship though in the novel it seemed as they were regarding each other at a distance most of the time which I found quite odd.
I have no idea whether or not I will be reading the next book in this series, but I'm sad to say that I would not personally recommended this book, due to preference.