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{January 3, 2013}   {ARC Review} What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

13642750From Goodreads: Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time, equal to the “daytimers.”

On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.


I struggled a little bit with the believability of this novel, but as I’m no expert on Parkour or how long it takes to get really good at this sport, I guess I can’t say all that much about the validity of the characters’ abilities.  A few months seems a little short to master such an extreme sport, but at the same time, if that’s all you do for three months straight, then I guess you could build up the strength and endurance needed in no time flat.  It’s probably because I’m a bit lazy when it comes to getting in shape, so I wouldn’t be able to do what our characters do with the same amount of discipline, plain and simple.  I’m also not a teenager anymore; my bones are old and I’ve lost the agility needed to do a lot of sports, so it’d probably take me years to get anywhere close to being decent at Parkour, whereas it only takes the teens a few months to master it.  Ah, well.  To be young.

There were some other elements I had a hard time believing within the novel as well, such as forcing a witness to work alongside the person she’s terrified of and whom she’s accused of murder.  Again, I’m no expert, but if my child accused someone of being a murderer, and she was terrified of said person, I certainly wouldn’t force her to work alongside that person, and I don’t think the law would either.  Perhaps it’s some character building idea within the court system of the novel, but I don’t think it’s plausible.  It certainly will help pave the way for more events within the upcoming sequel, but plausible, I think not.

All that aside, though, I actually really like the idea of Parkour and the murder mystery.  I’ve read a few novels in which characters are very good at Parkour, and that’s actually why I wanted to read this novel.  Granted, the characters in the novels I read prior to this one had been practicing Parkour for years, but they also didn’t have an allergy to sunlight or any restrictions on leading a “normal” life, whereas our characters in What We Saw At Night have both. So…

I liked Allie’s character the most.  She struggles to come to terms with the idea that she will probably die soon, and yet she strives to live.  I found her character to be very believable, though wishy-washy and a bit negative.  I did not care for her friend, Juliet, however.  Juliet is crazy.  She isn’t sympathetic, and in retrospect, everything that happens within the novel itself it her fault.  Yes, I’m pointing the finger, and I know we’re not supposed to do the whole, “if s/he didn’t do this, then X, Y, and Z never would have happened,” but as I look back over the course of the novel, it’s true.  For nearly every situation that happens, Juliet can be pegged as the reason for its outcome.  And, since she’s not a very nice person with one too many secrets, I definitely don’t care for her.

Now, this novel is apparently one in a series.  I expected it all to tie up nicely at the end, but it doesn’t.  In actuality, it leaves the reader with many questions as to what really happened.  I am on Allie’s side, 100%, but I’m not sure about some of the events that took place… did they really happen, or is it another huge cover up?  I guess time will tell, and I am looking forward to the sequel as I am invested in Allie’s life.  I just hope the next installment has a little more realistic feel to it.  Three stars.

3 stars

Soho Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on January 8, 2013.


Denise Z says:

I am disappointed ;( I was very intrigued by this one, as I enjoy stories that take a “disability” and make the characters more. Well if it comes my way, I will still give it a shot, but don’t think I will make the extra effort.

If you come by it, try it and see. You may like it more than I did–different strokes for different folks. :)

i will skip it . tnx 4 the review

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