December 30, 2005

Ursula K. LeGuin called this one "a good read for the dark hours."

I didn't intend to read it after dark, having a far too active imagination for my own good, but it turns out that didn't matter at all. It wasn't spooky-scary, at least not to me. It was an adventure. Now, I'm sure the sequel will be much worse (better?), but this one was so full of new things, like the first Potter book, that I was too entranced to be affrighted.

How have I missed this guy? Scott Westerfeld has a whole lot of great YA fantasy series out there. Has anyone else run across him? I'm interested in him as an author because he was a former software engineering person, and I think the orderliness of a mind that can program is reflected in his complex universe... (By the by, this is the FIRST book to a trio of books, and the second one is already out, but the third one won't be out until later this year. Do yourself a favor. DON'T start the first without the second close to hand... the library/bookstores are all closed now, and I'm a bit peeved...)

...the universe of Bixby, Oklahoma. Doesn't seem like it would be much of a universe, actually. It's flat, for starters, with a few stoplights and the odd tree for vertical relief. No skyscrapers. Weird bogs and sinkholes and funny tasting water make for natural oddities as well as the little thirteen pointed stars on every building and every street in town. The sun seems too bright for some newcomers, and a few folks have been known to have really odd dreams - they blame it on the water. Bixby has bizarre curfew ordinances, too. But none of that makes Bixby really, say special. What makes Bixby special is the The Midnighters. The Secret Hour causes time to stop for everyone in Bixby, but them. Then the world belongs to just a few teens, who are too strange to fit in well to the sun-loving world of Bixby High, and who live for the nighttime, the time-stopped hour when they can be who they truly are, and use their strange Talents without fear. One plays with gravity, while another can see where magic has touched. A third plays with numbers on different planes, while the last is a psychic who hears thoughts and tastes emotions. There are other creatures in the dark, the Darklings, but they're just like wild animals, they don't hurt anyone.

Unfortunately, the new girl in town, Jessica Day? She's a midnighter. The darklings don't like her. The psychic might have tampered with the minds of the people around her, and dislikes her on principle. The seer wants to control her -- for her own good -- and the gravity defying acrobat thinks he's in love. And life is about to get very, very strange in Bixby.

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