Book: Thirteen Days to Midnight

"Thirteen Days to Midnight" by Patrick CarmanYou are indestructible. These are the words that transfer an astonishing power to Jacob Fielding…and they change everything. When Ophelia James, the beautiful and daring new girl in town, suggests they use the power to save others, Jacob readily accepts. But with every heroic act, the power grows stronger and soon feels more like a curse. After all, how do you decide who lives and who dies?

Jacob has only thirteen days to harness this terrifying power…and to answer a chilling question: What if, in order to save the girl he loves, he has to kill her?

Okay, first off, the back cover lied. Jacob doesn’t have “thirteen days to harness this terrifying power,” he has plenty of time. It’s the story that takes place in thirteen days. I wonder who wrote the text for the back cover—and if that person actually read the book.

That said, I did enjoy reading Thirteen Days to Midnight. It was a page-turner. But I guess it wasn’t up to par with Warm Blood, which I read before this. For one thing, I’m not raving about this book.

Let’s go into the book: In Thirteen Days to Midnight, we have one main character, a love interest, and a supporting character. Jacob, as our main character, immediately has our sympathy. After all, he is our anchor to this world. And while we do get to know Ophelia (the love interest) and Milo (the supporting character), it’s with Jacob that we learn most of what’s going on in the story.

Which brings me to my main problem with the story: Jacob keeps a lot of things to himself. And most importantly, he keeps a lot of things from the readers. Reading the book, I thought one of the main themes was loss: loss of a loved one, loss of innocence—loss, in general. And one of his losses, the guilt in losing a father-figure, gets built up so much that I felt it was a cop-out when we finally confront it—and drop it because it doesn’t fit where the story is going towards anymore.

Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. When I started reading Thirteen Days to Midnight, I thought it read a lot like an episode from a television show—so I read it that way. It had the elements: the aforementioned three characters important to any story, the television set-up of having the dreaded thing happen before flashing back in time to tell the story properly—It was very TV.

With this mindset, I guess I was expecting the same payoffs one would have when watching a television show. Especially when it comes to the dramatic moments. Having built-up this guilt Jacob feels over the loss of his father-figure, it was a nice twist for Jacob to reveal the actual events that happened during his father’s death. But it would have been nicer if this revelation propelled the actions our main protagonist took as the story winded down. But instead, it gets dropped in service of another back story that would help tie-up a happy ending for the story.

Honestly, I like happy endings. And the ending Thirteen Days to Midnight does give us doesn’t feel like a deus ex machine; the ingredients to the happy ending do get planted throughout the story. But still, I couldn’t help but hold out to the hope that the author would do something different with the ending. Just to be clear though, I still do like how the story ends.

One other thing before I completely let this go though: in the book, the love interest also becomes a sort-of villain as the story progresses. While I’m fine with how it happens, and why it happens, I have to say the whole thing didn’t really make sense to me until it was spelled out clearly.

That’s because when Ophelia (the love interest) starts becoming the bad guy, we don’t see changes in her character—just in how the author is describing her. The character doesn’t undergo the changes the author is telling us it is undergoing. So when we were supposed to see her as a villain, I was only seeing her as a brat who the main character should just cut loose and let go.

It’s so much easier to point out the things I don’t like—which might seem as if I’m disparaging the book. But I do like Thirteen Days to Midnight. It has a nice message about faith and choice. I just had to point out the things I didn’t like about the book, which are minimal compared to the things I liked about it: the pacing, the characterization of the main character, the build-up—

But these are just my words. Other people have other ideas, so why don’t you get a second or a third with the following links:
Opinionated? Me?
Wands and Worlds
Becky’s Barmy Book Blog

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