“Sometimes in life, we do things simply because we’ve always done them. “
Authors: Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
Publication: September 22nd 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher at ALA Annual
Summary from Goodreads:
On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.
Well… I liked it, and I didn’t like it at the same time. Do you know how confusing that feeling is? I wanted to like it, and I did like it – but I didn’t like it enough for it to really mean something. At this point, I feel almost indifferent – but I don’t want to. Nightfall had a brilliant premise, though it is a complete rip off of Game of Thrones (I’ll get to that in a moment). This is one of those cases where my excitement took over, and then I was devastatingly let down. Nightfall had the makings of a great novel, of a story that would leave me with nightmares and the chills, but it fell woefully short.
Nightfall follows Marin, a fourteen year old (I think) who lives on a strange island. This island is strange because its days and nights are not the normal twenty-four hour cycle. No, this island runs on a cycle of fourteen years of daylight and then fourteen years of night. In the fourteen years of nighttime, the island freezes over and the entire populace of the island is supposed to vacate the premises and leave it as it was found however many years in the past. The terrain changes, the bad things come out, and you better pray that you don’t get left behind. Marin, our protagonist, has lived all fourteen years of her life in complete daylight – and as this book takes off, the night is finally coming, and the others are coming with it.
Preparations for abandoning the island is not what you think they are going to be. Sure, there is the basic packing up of belongings and cleaning the house, but there are rules everyone must follow. You must leave your house completely spotless, rearrange furniture in weird ways, sprinkle lime juice around the house, remove all the locks from the doors, leave the doors cracked, and make sure that every trace of your existence is basically gone.
Now, as we know from the synopsis, Marin, her brother, and her friend Line do not make it off the island. And, basically, from that point on everything goes to hell.
But, I don’t want to talk about that. What I want to say is this : Nightfall rips off Game of Thrones so obviously I have no idea how it got published and it makes fan fiction look original. Game of Thrones has crazy long winters and summers, sound familiar? In GoT, the summers can last up to twenty eight years or more, as can the winters, and with the winters come the White Walkers. In Nightfall, we get fourteen yearlong summers and then an equally long nightfall where the entire island freezes over and the others come out. Do you see what I am saying here? The entire basis of this book is a play on Game of Thrones. Now, I don’t know if it was intentional, but it was impossible for me to ignore (considering I am a huge GoT fan). For God’s sake, the damn blurb on the back of the book says “Night is coming.”
Now that my mini rant is out of the way, the characters were flat. I hate saying it, and I hate thinking it, but I do. The characters were all so one dimensional, so borderline boring that it almost put me to sleep. The plot didn’t help, either, but that’s for another paragraph. I think the biggest part of my issue with the characters came from the writing style, I don’t think I would have felt the same way if the writing had been more descriptive. Instead, there is a lot more telling rather than showing. We are told this characters is like this, or does this, or thinks this – rather than illustrating it through their actions, descriptions, and thoughts. We are not given any real inner monologue, instead, we are given a constant script that is clearly robotic in structure. I must find my brother. I must get off the island. They must not find out what I am. Nothing more than that. Their thoughts don’t stray, they don’t seem to really feel anything – I literally felt like I was watching one of the worst renditions of a play I had already seen a million times before. It was really depressing, to be completely honest. I wanted to get to know the characters, maybe then I would have actually felt something. But instead, I felt so detached that I didn’t give two shits about what they were going through
As for the plot, it was bleh. I was expecting some terror, some genuine fear and all together hopelessness. I wanted my heart to pound, I wanted to have goosebumps, I wanted to have nightmares. I am completely terrified of the dark, those of you who know me will know that to be the honest truth. So, a book that is supposed to take place entirely in the darkness where monsters are chasing you the entire time? I should have been significantly terrified, but I was not. The attempts at terrorizing the reader in this book are laughable at best and sleep inducing at the worst. The “monsters” weren’t scary, there were basically giant lizards that don’t feel the cold. The darkness wasn’t scary. The fear of being stranded on the island was nonexistent. There was nothing in the plot that drove home the fact that this was supposed to be a thriller and a horror story – it was far too bland for me. What should have terrified me, only made me laugh.
What could have been a wonderful thriller to keep you awake at night was nothing more than a half-assed attempt at marketing Game of Thrones as Young Adult with a new book cover and different title. Nightfall was a disappointment, it tore my heart out and stomped all over it. I wanted to love this, I wanted to be scared by this, instead – what I got was a laughable imitation of some of the most overused horror story tropes out there. There is nothing to fear in this book other than one dimensional characters and giant lizards that look too much like the Kanama from Teen Wolf to be anything original. Nightfall, good job destroying my expectations and making me want to weep for humanity.