One of the most fun things we did at the Texas Book Festival last October was the nighttime trip to the state cemetery to hear ghost stories. Jake Halpern read to us from his new novel, Nightfall, which he wrote with Peter Kujawinski. He read to us about Line, Marin and Kana, three fourteen-year-olds who have been left behind on their island of Bliss as night approaches. On Bliss, they have fourteen years of Day followed by fourteen years of Night. As the sun sets, all the residents flee to an island further south to escape the darkness, cold and ice of Night. But is that all they are escaping? The adults won't discuss the reasoning behind all the traditions related to leaving the island and Marin especially finds this frustrating. She thinks it is all superstition, but before long she learns more than the adults ever knew.
When I listened to Halpern read this book, I immediately thought of my eleven-year-old son. It sounded like something he would really like. The whole time he was reading it, he kept telling me how good it was and how he couldn't wait to talk about it. I must say that with that kind of endorsement I was anxious to get my turn with the book. Unfortunately, I didn't connect with it as strongly as he did. I felt the storytelling was lacking in depth. At times the action would drag and then suddenly the author would jump ahead as if he had gotten tired of the previous scene. As a Middle Grade book, it was good, but I didn't love it. My eleven-year-old, however, thought it was amazing, so perhaps it is just what it should be.