Title: BURNING MIDNIGHT
Author: Will McIntosh
Release date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook
For fans of The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave, this debut YA novel from Hugo Award winner Will McIntosh pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.
Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent.
No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.
When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.
There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
Note: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.
BURNING MIDNIGHT starts with an interesting concept: If you could use an unknown object to make yourself smarter, stronger, faster, better looking, etc. would you? It imagines a world where these objects, spheres, are a big business for those that can find them and sell them. It introduces characters Sully and Hunter, a sphere broker and sphere hunter who are hoping to make a big find to change their situations for the better. It pits them against a man who is ruthless, deceitful, greedy, and enhanced by the spheres. And it adds in a number of daring searches, a few unexpected twists, a road trip, a chase, a theft or two, thrills, danger, disaster.
David Sullivan is desperate to find a way to earn enough money to help his mom get by. With the number of rare spheres dwindling, he isn’t sure how long he’ll be able to keep them in their home. He isn’t a hunter, but if teaming up with one will help him locate a rare sphere, he’d be willing to do whatever is necessary. Even if their odds are slim. Even with the risk that he could get burned by his partner. And even if it means having to use a couple of spheres to help him.
He doesn’t expect it to be easy. Especially with Alex Holliday, the man who cheated him out of millions, watching his every move. But he never anticipated what it might mean to once again find a never-before-seen sphere – the decisions he’d have to make, the actions he’d have to take, the consequences he’d have to face, and the things he might end up losing.
Will McIntosh penned a story that is as exciting as it is thought-provoking. He sets his characters off on a number of danger-filled adventures in search of elusive and valuable spheres. He creates some rather challenging and unusual obstacles for them to overcome. And he puts them on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
The question he poses about using the spheres for enhancement is as hotly debated in his characters’ world as performance-enhancing, age-defying, brain-boosting drugs are in ours. And while it turns out the risks are likely quite different, it does make you wonder if the pharmaceuticals’ benefits are worth any risk at all.
BURNING MIDNIGHT is a quick and engaging read with a pace that continues to pick up as the story progresses. It is different and surprising and strange and clever and a whole lot of fun.
About Will McIntosh
Will McIntosh is the author of several adult speculative fiction novels and is a frequent short-story writer. His first novel, Soft Apocalypse, was a finalist for the Locus Award. “Bridesicle,” a short story published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story and was later expanded into his novel Love Minus Eighty, which was an ALA-RUSA Reading List selection for science fiction. His newest novel for adults, Defenders, has been optioned for film by Warner Bros. Burning Midnight is his first novel for young adults. Will lives with his wife and twin children in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he is working on his next young adult novel.