Beware the Night (Beware the Night #1)

4/5 Stars

Jessika Fleck
March 2019

*Review by Alexa*

When her world divides, pitting light against dark, Veda must join a dangerous revolution to save her grandfather and fight against injustice…even if it costs her the boy she loves.

On the island of Bellona, life is peaceful–as long as the citizens dutifully worship the Sun, which protects them from all harm. Seventeen-year-old Veda knows that keeping the Sun happy will protect her and her grandfather from the Night, the dangerous people who snatch innocent citizens from their beds under the cover of darkness, never to be seen again. As long as Veda follows the rules, she will be safe.

But when Veda’s grandfather is offered up as the next sacrificial offering to keep the Sun’s favor, she starts to see that the safety she’s been promised comes at a dangerous price. Maybe there is more to fear above than there is below.

With a mysterious young man, Dorian, at her side, Veda has to figure out if the scary bedtime stories she grew up hearing are real–or dangerous lies.

It isn’t often that I get the opportunity to read a book before it’s released, so when Tiffany offered me her copy of Beware the Night to review, I was pretty pumped.  Then I read the synopsis, and I was little wary.  It’s not that the book sounded bad exactly, it just sounded like dozens of other YA books I’ve read, most of which—if I’m being fully honest here—weren’t that great.  A society divided, a fated rebellion, and one girl who can save everyone:  I mean, we’ve been there and done that; nevertheless, I plunged ahead…and discovered an absolutely delightful and surprising book! Is the basic structure and foundation built in the same neighborhood as other books?  Oh yeah, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case. The story is one we’ve seen before, but it’s done again and again because it speaks us.  I mean, who hasn’t felt like overthrowing the bourgeoisie a time or two?

Ok, let’s get down to some specifics.  First off, I really like the MC, Veda.  She’s flawed, and she makes some rash decisions that I rolled my eyes at, but she learns from her mistakes and she does think before she acts most of the time. She’s strong, but she’s also vulnerable in a way that felt very believable. She’s a young girl thrust into something she isn’t ready for, and Fleck allows you to feel her fear and trepidation without it becoming too tedious or overdone.  Her character arc makes sense, and by the end of the story I was truly invested in her and her plight.  In a rarity for me, I actually enjoyed all of the characters.  Every individual felt fully formed with a clear motivation that made sense for the character and the greater context of the story.  No one felt overdone or extraneous, and everyone served a distinct purpose.

When evening’s wind laps through the trees, the Night’s light footsteps hide ‘neath the breeze.

I also found the plot of the story to be much more intricate, structured, and well-balanced than I was anticipating it being, and I found myself pushing off some of my responsibilities so that I could keep reading (that dirty laundry isn’t going anywhere, after all).  The mythology in Fleck’s universe is intricate and fascinating, and she deftly inserts it into the story.  I’m assuming Fleck will dive into these beliefs more in the next book, and I am pumped to see where she goes with it.  The mythology, along with several well placed twists and turns, give the story a depth and layering that I don’t usually find in YA.  The themes of the story—class division, religion, survival vs. rebellion—are presented in a way that isn’t overdone, and ties this fictional universe to our own in such a way that it made Veda’s world feel very real and grounded.  I’m excited to see where Fleck takes us in book two, and I’m curious how much these themes will continue to play out.

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The only aspect of this book I found tedious at all is the love triangle.  It’s not horrible—which is a lot coming from me since it is my most hated trope—but it’s there.  I will say that it is one of the most well done love triangles that I’ve come across in YA, but I still could have done without it.  I think most people will enjoy it though, and I’m curious to see how it plays out in future installments.

For when they wake from a long eve’s bed, thanks to the Night, the canal runs red.

Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this book.  It’s a quick and fun read, but it’s also nuanced and thoughtful.  Fleck asks timely questions, and requires more of her readers than many YA authors.  The book is a slow burn that builds to a surprisingly emotional climax, and I found myself rereading the last page over and over again in some futile attempt at making more words appear.  I would have enjoyed the book being a tad darker (when do I not want a story to be darker), but I’m hoping the second book will be bloodier and a bit more…tonally deadly.  This book comes out on March 12, and I genuinely hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did…and that they will talk about it with me because I am bursting with theories and I need to share them!  So, yeah, buy this book when it comes out, and then shoot me a message on here or a DM on my bookstagram, and let’s chat!

 

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