Review: What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Review: What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard
What We Saw At Night
What We Saw At Night #1
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Publication date: January 8, 2013
by Soho Teen

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

Three teenagers with XP (a life-threatening allergy to sunlight) are a species unto themselves. As seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Allie Kim, they roam the silent streets, looking for adventure while others sleep. On a random summer night, while scaling a building like any other, the three happen to peer into an empty apartment and glimpse an older man with what looks like a dead girl. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that escalates through the underground world of hospital confinement, off-the-grid sports and forbidden love.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

So, when I first read the blurb from Netgalley, I was really excited to read it. I’ve never heard of this particular disease before, so I thought it would be interesting to follow the lives of Allie, Rob and Juliet as they go on with their lives at night and how they cope with this and with each other. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this very much even though I desperately wanted to. I encountered a lot of problems, most of them subjective, that influenced my reading experience of the book. The characterization, the flow, the overall attitudes of the three main characters just made my head hurt.

My first complaint is that the pacing was really inconsistent. There would be chapters upon chapters where it felt a moment was really dragging, and then next thing you know, weeks and months have passed. It felt all-around choppy and confusing. It could have been good, but this kind of pace was very fragmented, and it didn’t allow me to truly have a good grasp of the big picture. It didn’t help that those dragging chapters were things that were unnecessary and didn’t really move the story. Like at the beginning, the reader is suddenly thrown in the middle of everything and we’re introduced to chapters upon chapters of parkour tutorials and jumping off of buildings, all of them with details so inessential that you’ll want to just skim it all and get it over with. On the other hand, those chapters that happened after timeskips could have been okay, but all ended too soon. If the internal monologue was good, it could have worked, but Allie’s narrative just made it worse because she’s as inconsistent and disjointed as the pacing.

I don’t know, I just couldn’t connect to her at all. She felt bland and immature, even though the book tried to portray her as someone who was beyond her age. I did understand her feelings of jealousy and mistrust towards Julie, though. Those are human feelings, after all, and everyone have felt them at least once in their lives. But other than that, the character failed to captivate me, and the other characters (Rob and Julie) were even more frustrating and annoying. Rob just felt so invisible. He’s the love interest, but it felt like he was only placed there just for that purpose and nothing else, and he even failed at it. The romance between them didn’t even blossom or anything, it just appeared out of nowhere o_O Then it dims, and it appears again, dims and appears again… sigh —_— Everything is just so disjointed. Don’t even get me started on Julie. Her characterization could have been great and developed into something more complex but… it just didn’t work and it felt too forced. Everything felt too forced. =( The side characters were also non-existent, and the story could have moved with or without them. Sometimes, I question their being mentioned at all.

The mystery aspect of this book could have been better, that’s for sure. It felt awkward and off, and the supposed to be moments of tension didn’t feel like it at all. I wish I could be nicer about this, but it’s really how I felt, and the worst part is we don’t even get to a conclusion!!! The story ends and the mystery still haven’t been solved. I guess we’ll have to read the sequel to find out… but I’m not sure I want to anymore, because all loose ends could have been resolved in one book, but no… sigh

Overall, it’s a 2.5/5 for me.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. MonaG says

    Thanks for your honest review. I’ve only read one book by this author, The Deep End of the Ocean, and I remember liking the film adaptation better.

    This book is somewhat reminiscent of the movie, The Others, starring Nicole Kidman. In that film, the children also had a negative reaction to sunlight.

    I was not really inclined to read this and am even less so now.