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Friday, May 22, 2015

Review & Giveaway: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey | blog tour

Today I'm part of the blog tour for Melissa Grey's debut fantasy, The Girl at Midnight. (In fact, I believe I'm wrapping up the tour, so if you want to know what others thought, particularly those more favorable, there should be plenty more reviews for you to check out by now!)
Check out my thoughts on the book, for what they're worth, below, and then make sure to stick around and enter to win!

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Get It | Add It
[Urban?] Fantasy, 368 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Delacorte Press
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an 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 a 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.

It's been a good long while since I've had to do one of these, but: This is a DNF review. That means I did not finish this book, and am going to attempt to tell you why, so if these types of reviews are not your cup of tea, or you don't think someone is able to form an opinion without having seen a book through to the last page, then you'd probably be better suited looking elsewhere (and I won't blame you -- there are plenty of glowing reviews out there).  But for those of you who are curious to hear my thoughts, or wonder why I couldn't see this one through, I'm going to do my best to lay that out, and I want to start by telling you a bit about me as a reader:
1) I try my best to give a book multiple chances when it's not working for me -- I don't have a super happy DNF trigger finger (though it does itch from time to time).
2) BUT that said, I know myself as a reader, and I know when I'm unlikely to enjoy a book. Life is short, and I've grown unwilling to force myself to finish something that I'm not enjoying.
3) A book doesn't have to be horrible for me to DNF it. Actually, it's more common that I'll give up because I'm indifferent; if I am truly hating a book, I might finish it out of spite, just to be able to fully explain why I loathe it so. But indifference is often the death knell...
4) When I've decided to DNF a book, and still "review" it, I try to make sure I've read enough of it to feel like I've got a handle on the things I want to say, and a clear indication that it's probably going to remain so throughout the book. In this case, I stopped at about 25% of the way through, which is a bit shy of the 100 page mark.

So, all of that said, these are the reasons that I just couldn't bring myself to keep reading:

*It does feel overly reminescent of other things out there, most notably Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It's not that DOSAB was so wholly original in every element, because I'm sure there were things in it that seemed unique but had been done before. There's nothing new under the sun, and all that. But there are times that this feels like a straight knock-off: not just influenced by, but actively used as a format /slash/ jumping-off point. When I love a book the way I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, comparisons to it can go two ways: either, 'yay! hopefully that'll be really good!' OR 'it can't even compare, I already know it.' When a book is as stylistically strong as, well, any of Laini Taylor's books, it's likely that the comparison will go the second way, and not work out in its favor. If, the entire time you're reading something, you're comparing it to something else that was excellent, then it's bound to suffer in comparison. If someone does something exceedingly skillfully, and then someone else does nearly the same thing, but less so, all of the flaws are going to stand out FAR more than they would have otherwise. ***Weird Misty Food Analogy in 3...2... If you've only ever had Rice-a-Roni, it's fine. But then if one of the world's top chefs makes you a delicious plate of risotto, and then someone hands you a plate of the Rice-a-Roni you were used to, and calls it risotto, it's probably going to make you a little angry. You've had it before, and you know how much better it could be...
It may seem unfair to compare it to someone else's book, and honestly, it probably is. But sometimes these things stand out, and when they're so reminiscent as to seem like they're maybe ripping off that other book, it bears mentioning. (FYI, I've seen people compare it to other books as well, and say much the same thing, so something to bear in mind, especially if you've read one of the books it's compared to, namely Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the Grisha series, and The Mortal Instruments. If you haven't read these books, the similarities will be lost on you, so you may like it much better than I.)

*Probably the biggest issue: I couldn't help but find it cheesy. Everyone has different triggers and levels of tolerance for this, so the things that bothered me may not bother you. BUT I found myself rolling my eyes quite a bit more than I'd like, especially for the amount of pages I read. I found the names cheesy (the types of names I would have come up with and been very pleased indeed with myself in middle school); I found the setup and the way the conflict between these two factions was kind of talked around a good bit before it was actually addressed, and I found it cheesier when we were given info, always in very obvious setups and clumsy attempts to work the info-dumping into dialogue. (This is generally something I appreciate, but it's gotta be subtle. This ... was not.) And I found cheesiest of all the main character, Echo; her interactions with others, and really, her entire being. And I felt this was likely to get worse.

*And it was this cheesiness that lead to the death knell: I was indifferent. I couldn't connect, and there came a time that I just had to admit to myself that I'd been putting off reading it for a month, and hadn't been reading anything else because I didn't want to let myself get sucked away and find excuses not to finish it, and that it was just dragging down my reading pile for the month of May, when really, did I even care what happened? I did not. I couldn't make myself care about these characters and their war, and their search for the "firebird;" I couldn't get past the jarring way that their otherworldly and high-fantasy selves didn't mesh with their uber-modern, carefree styles of interaction, and how I was never quite able to believe in any of them, at any time, enough to take a leap into the world and begin building my willing suspension of disbelief. I just couldn't.

And so that is why I had to give up. I am hoping that if I set the book to the side for a good long while, enough to clear my head of it and reconcile myself to what it actually is, versus what I was hoping it was, that I can come back to it and try again. Maybe like it more than I have this time around. Maybe even enjoy it. I'm borderline curious to see what is actually going on in this world, and I want to know what the fuss was about for my friends that have read and loved this. But for now, I know that any further reading is just going to make me resentful, and ruin any chances of me liking this down the road, so I've got to let it go. For now, at least.

But if that hasn't scared you off, and you're still excited to read it (and why not? You may love this!), then I do wish you the best of luck in this . . .
The awesome folks at Penguin Random House, who sent me this book to review, have offered up 2 copies of The Girl at Midnight to two lucky readers!
This giveaway is open in the US and CAN, and ends May 29th at 11:59pm EST.
Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I have been seeing this book around in the last week and I like the cover. I usually like a book that I am drawn to from the cover. There are not too many books that I cannot finish, but there have been a few. Thanks for your honest opinion and for this giveaway!!

  2. I've seen this book a whole lot on booktube and goodreads. I love that you gave your honest opinion about the book even if it's not what everyone else agrees with!

  3. I find that there are two main reasons for dnf'ing a book. Sometimes I like the story idea but I just don't connect with the writing style and sometimes I like the style but can't connect with the characters or story. Sometimes we just have to give up. Why do we always feel so guilty about it? Thanks for the honest review.

  4. Ohhh...interesting. I've read so many reviews raving about this book, but I think my taste in books is pretty close to yours, so now I wonder if it'll leave me flat. I do worry over the DOSAB similarities. Sometimes, a book gets a little too close to another, plot-wise, and then I'm too annoyed with its lack of originality to truly care. :/

  5. I have seen so many reviews on this; both in equal of loving it and DNFing it! So idk, it def seems like a title that is completely hit or miss. :/
    Mary Loki

  6. I definitely think the conflict needed more explanation.

  7. (Alisha Sienkiel in rafflecopter)

    This book has seemed to be a hit or miss for most reviews I've read. I still want to read it because it sounds interesting but the similarities to other books has me worried about its originality and therefore how much I will like it. Thanks for your honest opinion!

  8. THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT is a well rounded 1st book in a series. Readers are left with the perfect opening for a sequel or two, but I still feel this book easily stands on its own. Definitely recommend!


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