Review: Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter
Kylie's life is falling apart. Her grandmother died, her parents are divorced, her boyfriend dumped her and now she's got a mysterious stalker that no one else seems to see. As if that weren't enough, after being caught in a drug bust at a party (though she wasn't doing drugs herself), Kylie is shipped off to Shadow Falls by her Ice Queen mother. Shadow Falls, a camp for troubled teens, is even freakier than Kylie expected -- full of Goth girls and leering boys -- and when Kylie discovers that her fellow campers aren't just troubled, but inhuman, it may be more than she can take.
It was difficult to get into this novel. The writing is clunky and tries too hard to be "teenagery" by overusing expressions like "face it" to the point of repetitiveness, which distracts from the story. Furthermore, it is hard to sympathize with Kylie when her paranoid and judgmental attitude is so off-putting. Born at Midnight also adopts the ubiquitous good guy/bad boy love triangle. The two boys -- Derek and Lucas -- held a lot of potential to be engaging characters (and Lucas was especially seductive), but the relationships weren't given enough time and development to encourage readers to invest.
This problem carried over to the story as a whole -- it felt rushed, only skimming the surface of the narrative and never delving deeply into the dark and varied world C.C. Hunter creates. The real plot finally appears late in the novel and the final pages do muster a moving emotional intensity, full of surprises that -- if they'd been hinted at earlier on -- would have really improved the novel's engagement. The ending was sweet and sad and tear-jerking -- almost a completely different story (in a good way). I have hope that, if the writing is tightened, the sequel will improve upon the intriguing premise at the novel's heart.
Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this novel from the publisher. This did not influence my review in any way.