Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell

Midnight CityMidnight City by J. Barton Mitchell
Series: The Conquered Earth #1
Published by: St. Martin's Press on October 30, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: ARC From Publisher, Won
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★½

In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything...

Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet's youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira's growing attraction to each other.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first novel in the Conquered Earth series, and a stunning work of imagination from debut author J. Barton Mitchell.

Midnight City started out as a very interesting book with promise: aliens, adventure, and apocalypse. But after finishing the story, I feel like I’m left with more questions than answers.

I feel like I was distanced from the story and the characters. I think it’s because there was a certain formality in the way the book was written. Something in the writing style just distanced me from the characters, their unique voices, and personalities. Midnight City is told from alternating points of view, but since the characters lacked distinct voices, I could never immediately tell whose point of view I was reading from. Furthermore, it almost seemed pointless for the book to be told from different points of view because the characters lacked the individual voices, and because the three main characters were together geographically for about 95% of the book. So in some sense, it didn’t matter whose point of view I was reading from because the events would always be the same and I wasn’t getting anything extra from their personalities. I don’t think their perceptions of events differed that much. I would have liked to see more personality and voice from each character to help differentiate them and relate to them a little more.

There were also a few discrepancies with Zoey’s character. In the book, Zoey is an eight-year-old girl. Most of the time, she seemed very mature and well-spoken for her age, but every now and then, she would pronounce words like a five-year-old. It usually just struck me as really odd and out of place. It didn’t seem to be in character for Zoey.

My biggest problem with Midnight City is the world building. The author has a really cool idea here, but it just wasn’t executed very well. I just had a hard time fully understanding the fantasy elements. Years back, some aliens invaded and now the world is in ruins, all the adults are gone, and most mysteriously—many of the human artifacts have become “charged” with almost magical properties. But we never find out exactly what or who the aliens are, why they’re on Earth, or what their purposes is, and that’s what I most wanted to find out. I also still don’t understand how the “artifacts” work. The story makes it seem like it’s not supposed to be magic… but it certainly isn’t science. And the author just didn’t provide any kind of history or explanation.

When I read a book, I like to have a good understanding of the world and the background, but instead, I read an almost-400-page book about aliens, without ever learning anything about the aliens except that they exist.

One thing that I did like about Midnight City was Midnight City itself (a city in the story). Midnight City had a fascinating political structure that actually reminded me quite a bit of Erasing Time. People judge their position in society according to points. There’s a very complex algorithm for determining how many points each person has. These points are constantly rising and falling and can be used in trade.

Midnight City could have been a really interesting story, but I don’t feel like I came away from the book with any fascination or a good sense of the story. Not very much actually happened in this nearly 400 paged book and the characters weren’t nearly interesting enough for me. But at the end of the day, I don’t think Midnight City was a terrible story; it just didn’t resonate with me. I had a lack of connection with the story and the writing style, but that doesn’t mean it will be the case for everyone. We all have different preferences for writing styles, and a more distant and formal approach just isn’t what I like to read. There are still a lot of interesting elements to the story, so if the summary intrigues you then I would encourage you to try it out.

The Verdict


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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Too bad this one wasn’t that good, I’m not planning on picking up a copy because when characters don’t interest me I usually lose interest in the book itself .. Thanks for the honest review 🙂

    Elodie recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday :
    1. So did I! I thought it would be great. It had great potential but didn’t live up to it. I feel like the book was about an alien invasion, but that’s the thing we got the least information about! Bummer!

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