What We Saw At Night (#1) by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Published by Soho Teen, 2013
Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”
On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.
Why I Read This:
I have to be honest, it was mostly the Parkour.
Here's another book I find a bit frustrating to review. I did like it and enjoyed it very much. On the other hand there were some things that kept me from enjoying it as much as I should have. For instance, the writing dragged in places which broke up the suspense element too much for me. Also, there is no ending. I'm not even exaggerating here. The book ends in the middle of a scene. Right in the middle. I can't even call that a cliffhanger. I didn't know this was supposed to be the first book in a series either. I expected a conclusion and when the book ended mid-scene, well...that was just too hard to ignore.
So the good stuff: First of all, I really enjoyed the suspenseful mystery to this one. As well as adding the effect of the overall story, the writing style is just my cup of tea. It's something a little different than the average Y.A. but reminded me very much of the books I read as a teen and was slightly creepy as well.
We learn a lot about XP, a disease that effects people when they are exposed to light. In this world, Allie lives in a town famous for it's XP research and so many people know what it is. It also explains why all three friends are together and why they spend their nights together. In addition, it gives a lot to think about how we take for granted our lives and the things we can do that others can't. Something so small can effect people's lives so greatly.
The parkour was fun to read about as well. The first thing Allie learns about is the philosophy behind Parkour. I really respected the author for bringing this aspect of the "sport" to view. She could have easily had Allie and her friends mimicking Youtube videos and such, but she actually showed what Parkour is all about and how it started.
The characters are great too. Everyone is a mystery, even Allie's best friends Rob and Juliet. It's all about these kids who live their lives in the dark and so I think that added to the mystery, but then they've all got their own things going on and Allie's not sure she really knows the "real" Rob or Allie. There's a lot for her to learn about her own friends and I really connected to that, having some very mysterious friends in high school myself.
What We Saw At Night is a very unique book in many ways. I loved the writing, the mystery, the suspense, and the characters. There is nothing formulaic about it at all, which was also refreshing. I just wish it had an ending.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.