Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

*This review may contain spoilers, read at your own risk*

Quick Synopsis: Marin and Kana’s island is on a 28 year cycle -14 years of day and 14 years of night. When night approaches the islanders remove the locks from doors, rearrange furniture and clean their homes with lime, all in preparation for leaving the island; The rituals are bizarre and yet the adults will not discuss it. When the ships arrive to move everyone to the Desert Lands Marin’s friend goes missing, she and Kana are the only ones who can find him. But Night is falling. Their island is changing. And it may already be too late.

I read this novel during the spooky season of October, right before Halloween. Nightfall marks my first attempt at reading young-adult horror; and, although this may not have been the greatest, Nightfall wasn’t a completely disappointing start.

Firstly, the initial premise caught my attention straight away, I found it difficult to envisage a world in which the day/night cycle is more than 24 hours, a world where people had to abandon their homes, and move across an ocean just due to it being nighttime. I found myself often thinking “Oh, just wait till morning, then go do what you need to do”, soon realising that the characters have to wait 14 years for ‘the morning’, by which time the situation would be completely irrelevant. Additionally, the opening of this novel defiantly fits into the horror genre, with the shadows and mystery providing an eerie, unsettling atmosphere. Sadly, this does not last the entirety of the novel; It may be as a result of me becoming accustomed to the atmosphere and storyline – luckily the lack of scares is not what affect my enjoyment of the novel, although, it was a tad disappointing that the horror element didn’t hold throughout.

What is more, the middle of the novel becomes tedious at times, while the near end is bordering on nonsensical; Especially, as I was half hoping for a sad conclusion, one that would have been fitting for the genre. Although, I understand that the majority of readers would be content with the finale.

Moreover, Nightfall follows a third person narrative that focuses on all three central characters in one fluid swoop, moving between them seamlessly, switching to chapter by chapter when the characters were separated.

Secondly, the characters are generally likable, however, likability doesn’t make a good character and they lack any depth; Let’s just say, it has been only a few months and I had almost completely forgotten about them. They never did anything unexpected, which should not have been difficult as they were flat and one dimensional. Also, their youth was hardly represented, considering Kana, Marin and Line are 14 years old, their thoughts and actions were mostly suited towards a 16/17 year old person. Although the revelation about Kana was thrilling, it lacked reinforcement on his part. We were informed by Marin that during the light years Kana was blind and as the sky got darker, his vision improved, yet, we did not read about this from his side, how it was for him when he couldn’t see and how it is now that he can.

Another issue I had with these characters is the fact that, after escaping a dangerous situation, they’d stop and chat in an area not too far away where the danger occurred -As if the danger couldn’t follow them.

Overall, Nightfall wasn’t the worst introduction into the horror genre, still, it wasn’t the best either. The characters were basic and the story lacked finesse. I’ve found myself left with a bundle of questions regarding why people would live on such an island and why the departure from the island wasn’t organised to be less of a rush. I rated this novel ⅗ stars on Goodreads as it wasn’t completely bad, I mean, I managed to finish it.

Thank you for reading this review. Go check out the book for yourself and share your opinions down below.


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