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The Secret hour

by Scott Westerfeld


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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Westerfeld (The Risen Empire) begins this inventive contemporary fantasy—first in a planned trilogy—as a new-kid-in-high-school story; he quickly introduces a few surreal bits and then begins revealing his secrets in careful increments. Jessica Day has moved to the odd town of Bixby, Okla., where the water tastes odd and, she is told, "gives you funny dreams." The misfits at school, Dess, Rex and Melissa, see a kindred spirit in Jessica: like them, she was born at nearly the exact stroke of midnight, giving her the ability to experience the 25th hour of each day, which is "rolled up too tight" for the rest of humanity even to notice. This lost hour has its own breed of predators ("darklings") who don't exist at any other time and who are terrified of stainless steel and 13-letter words; but ever since Jessica arrived in town, darkling activity has been on the rise. The story moves quickly, and the structure is satisfying—the author answers all the questions he highlights in this initial volume while leaving room for the plot to develop in the sequels. A devilishly unraveled loose end on the last page will ensure an audience for the next installment. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 6-10–Moving when you're in high school is difficult enough, especially when your parents can't seem to hold their own lives together and your younger sister is being more obnoxious than usual. However, for 15-year-old Jessica Day, these concerns pale when bizarre things start to happen and she discovers that she now has unwanted magical powers. Part science fiction, part horror story, this novel is the first in a series about the midnighters, a select group of individuals whose birth at the stroke of midnight gives them the special ability to move about in a mysterious 25th hour. As Jessica takes her place among these extraordinary teens, she must battle the increasingly dangerous slithers and other darklings that have suddenly become more violent and aggressive. The story is exciting and the writing compelling. Gaps in the account will not bother readers, who will be totally absorbed by the paranormal elements as well as the intriguing characters, and who will be eagerly awaiting the next book.–Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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