by Melissa Grey
Published on April 28, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: This book was on my radar this spring. I didn't get a review copy, but I began to read a lot of positive reviews, so I put it on my list to check out. I'm glad I did.
My first impression of Girl at Midnight was that a lot of this book felt familiar to me. There's the protagonist who seems ordinary but obviously has something special going on (Harry Potter, Grisha trilogy); bitter enmity between two groups (think Daughter of Smoke and Bone), travel around the world using gateways and a mysterious powder (more Harry Potter), creatures with feathers (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), a secret world beneath/behind New York City and other cities (City of Bones, Harry Potter.) However, I thought all these familiar tropes and ideas were mixed with skill, and I liked the writing
Pros for me: Good writing and pacing. Loved the travelogue. Nice use of multiple points of view.
Cons for me: I didn't feel the strongest connection with Echo. (I wonder if that was because of the fact that the point of view shifts around quite a bit, giving me a chance to bond with some other characters. My favorites were some secondary characters who were members of Echo's motley crew, like Ivy and Dorian.) I guessed the big reveal pretty early on. And the romance caused some eye-rolling on my part: the book features star-crossed lovers, a fair amount of insta-love AND an arrangement that smells a whole lot like the classic YA love triangle between the heroine, the nice guy and the bad boy. Given the whole "centuries-old war" aspect, I was hoping for a really powerful hate-to-love story, but the book set up a bunch of obstacles between Echo and her forbidden love interest and then just knocked them all down. Humph.
I wish Girl at Midnight had offered up a few more surprises, but I also freely admit to being really picky about YA fantasy. If you're a fan of the books referenced above and are looking for something with a similar feel, definitely give Girl at Midnight a try!