Burning Midnight gave me fond memories of Pokemon, with people trying to find the rarest spheres and collecting them. The coloured spheres have different abilities that get progressively cooler depending on how rare they are. Want to become better looking, improve your hearing, get a higher IQ or my favourite – read faster? There’s a sphere for everything. The spheres are hidden in random places across the world, in the wilderness, in structural buildings, in rivers and ponds and no one knows how they appeared. This concept was actually pretty cool and I enjoyed learning what each sphere was used for.
This YA novel pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.
Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.
When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.
There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
Sully is a sphere hunter who makes a living by selling them at the flea market. At the start I really felt for Sully’s character, as someone who had lost his father and was just trying to feed himself and his mum. But as someone who’s gotten scammed once before by the big sphere collector Holliday, he seems to trust Hunter and the other people at the market quickly and easily.
He progressively continues to make these mistakes throughout the book, by listening to Hunter’s whims instead of trusting his own instinct. After he was specifically told – you can’t trust anyone when it comes to million dollar rare spheres, he invites all of his friends along to find the rarest sphere. I could just see it all backfiring before my very eyes – and I was right.
While I liked how fiesty and resourceful Hunter was, and how useful she was at hunting down spheres, some of her decisions went against logic – just like Sully. Why would you decide NOT to put a million dollar sphere into a safety deposit box, and instead hug it to your chest at night? I’m pretty sure anyone could have stolen it from under your nose. And why would you take it around with you when you KNOW that Holliday can take it from you with force? Seeing these kids make stupid decisions time and time again just annoyed and frustrated me.
The ending was quite rushed and completely takes you by surprise, taking a strange turn to explain the origin of the spheres and where they came from. It’s completely unexpected, and it gets really, really weird especially what happens with Hunter.
This isn’t a story about retribution against someone who cheated you, or about bettering them. Burning Midnight was surprisingly philosophical, sharing a cautionary tale of greed and of opening Pandora’s box. It’s about learning to realise and appreciate what you have in front of you instead of pursuing more riches – to what end will you stop? Will you keep it to yourself or share it with others? What starts off as an innocent adventure can quickly turn into greed, and it doesn’t have it’s consequences.
Although I struggled with some of the character decisions and the strange ending, I enjoyed Burning Midnight’s unique, action-packed adventure with an interesting and philosophical premise. It’s also a standalone, so it’s satisfying to have everything resolved in one book.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Random House Children’s Books for the review copy.Reawakened by Colleen Houck
Published by Hodder Paperbacks on August 13, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, Fantasy & Magic
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From COLLEEN HOUCK, New York Times bestselling author of the Tiger's Curse series, comes the first book in a series about a teenage girl entangled in an epic Egyptian quest full of romance, adventure, and mythology!
When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.
And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe.
But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.
From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.
When I was in primary school, I was obsessed with Egypt and wanted to become an archaeologist. I thought there was nothing cooler than excavating tombs and uncovering ancient artefacts. Needless to say, my expectations have been adjusted since I was 10 years old, but the fascination with Egyptian Pharaohs and mythology has never ceased. That’s why Reawakened really appealed to me – who doesn’t want to meet an Egyptian Sun God reawakening in the modern day world?
I’ve read one another book, The Chaos of Stars which failed to deliver on the Egyptian setting, and I really liked how the Egyptian mythology was incorporated into Rewakening. It’s actually set in Egypt and the mythology is naturally woven into the storyline, which was done really well. We learn of the ancient Egyptian tale of the dark God Seth and his sidekick Apophis and their plans of plunging the world into chaos. Amon is an Egyptian Prince who wakes every 1000 years with his brothers, to conduct an ancient summoning to thwart this evil from occurring. He also has a host of cool powers, such as teleportation, absorbing others’ energy and calling forth a Golden Falcon to do his bidding.
In just a few pages, we meet the book’s main character Lillian, the perfect, prim and popular straight A rich girl who I refer to as Mary Sue. Lily likes to refer to her meticulous habits and how perfect she is at every turn, using it as the pivotal point for why she chooses to throw caution to the wind. Apparently this girl is a thinker, but she quickly lets Amon’s smooth, tanned skin and set of perfectly formed abs sway her into embarking on a dangerous Egyptian adventure. Lily is snobby, entitled and shallow, which is why I never really connected with her.
Lily also has extremely high standards for a boyfriend (my eyes bugged out when I read this):
Now I knew exactly what my type was. It didn’t have to do with eye color, or height, or how muscular his frame was. It was that elusive quality, so difficult to capture. I wanted someone who loved me so much he’d be willing to die for me.
Amon on the other hand, also epitomises perfection. He’s attentive, caring, protective, chivalrous, and incredibly fit and drop dead gorgeous. He’s also an Egyptian Prince with Sun God powers, projecting light from within, which brings a whole new meaning to sparkly love interest. I rolled my eyes at a scene on the airplane, where Lily fended off the hordes of women throwing themselves at him. I liked Amon (because how can you not), but I cringed every time he broke out into a soliloquy over his feelings for Lily:
“Lily, I can honestly tell you that I have never in my long life come across a creature as beguiling as you. You are as fresh and as lovely as a budding flower kissed by the dew of a golden morning. I breathe you in and am filled with the taste of sunshine, life, and hope. You are much more than beautiful. You are…temptation personified.”
The cheese is strong with this one.
My only consolidation is that it wasn’t all about the romance, Amon had a mission and he was hellbent on achieving it. These cheesy lines were scattered between defusing ancient curses, discovering the secrets of a tomb and defeating ancient necromancers, which is what kept me reading. I wanted to know whether Amon ended up saving the world and getting the girl because my god (no pun intended) it was a slow burn romance.
While I enjoyed the exciting adventure incorporating Egyptian mythology, cursed tombs and mythical powers, as well as the hot Egyptian Sun God, there were definitely problems I had with this book. The main character was way too perfect and the cheesy romance grated a bit too much. However, if you love the setting, Rewakened would definitely satisfy your craving for an Egyptian YA adventure.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy.