Book Review: ‘Nightfall’

Today we’re excited to be part of the blog tour for Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski. Check out our review and make sure to enter to win your own copy below!

Over the summer, I received an amazingly creepy package from Penguin Random House. When I opened it, this is what I found:

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Nightfall tells the story of an island where night and day don’t happen every twenty-four hours—they alternate every fourteen years. Night is approaching and Marin and her family are preparing to leave their island for the Desert Lands, where they will spend the next fourteen years waiting for Day to return. As they prepare, Marin is puzzled by the strange rituals they have to go through — setting the table, moving around the furniture, and other things that don’t make sense. Meanwhile, her twin Kana is having nightmares and treating her differently. Then their friend Line goes missing just before the boat’s departure and they go looking for him, getting left behind on a dark island with creatures that are unforgiving of their presence.

I love the premise of this story. A place where the sun only rises and falls every twenty-eight years is kind of mind-boggling to imagine but a very creative idea to come up with. It also lends itself perfectly as the setting for a creepy story like this one, and I think authors Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski did a very good job of taking full advantage of their setting. Actually, the world building was probably my favorite part of the entire book. The descriptions are incredibly well done; you can visualize every single detail of the island and I felt like I was there as Marin, Kana, and Line were on the run.

While marketed as a horror or thriller book, I didn’t find it to be overwhelmingly scary. I think some people could be disappointed by the lack of “scare factors” but I’m not someone who likes to be scared out of my mind, so I was quite happy with the level in Nightfall. I actually found it to feel a lot more like an adventure novel—it was very fast paced, on-the-run, heart-racing and captivating. Once I got into the story, I couldn’t put it down.

One thing that stood out to me is that as a young adult novel with characters on the younger side – they’re all fourteen—I never felt like they were too old or we were bordering on the line between YA and middle grade. Their age was captured perfectly. There are hints of a possible connection between Marin and Line, but it’s not a focus. With dangerous creatures attacking them almost constantly, they’ve got more important things to worry about and I appreciated that the authors recognized that and never forced anything. It’s a strong friendship with potential; nothing became too old or adult for them and the balance felt right for me.

There are twists you don’t see coming (like most books) but I definitely was caught off guard by some of these. I do wish the epilogue had laid out a little more in stone at the end, but that’s just personal preference. I think it implies enough that readers will get the gist of where the authors intended it to go.

I enjoyed Nightfall a lot more than I thought I would. I was nervous about it’s horror genre but its action-packed pages kept me going when things got scary. I definitely recommend Nightfall if you’re looking for something action-packed or with some scare.

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Official Synopsis:
On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss
why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.

Lauren is a 20-year-old student living in Northern Virginia. She loves to read YA books and watch movies. Lauren is passionate about many things, but reading has always been a huge part of her life. Ever since she first learned to read, her parents have always had to pry books out of her hands when it’s time for other commitments. Lauren loves everything from The Hunger Games and Divergent, to Percy Jackson, mysteries like State of the Onion, and other YA books, like The Fault in Our Stars, and is always eager to try a new book, author, or series. She also loves music, public health, Harry Potter, and the Washington Capitals. Follow her on Twitter: @LWengrovitz.