Teen Book Review: 'Midnight City'

Midnight City by J. Barton MitchellSo, you’ve read all the books in the Hunger Games series, and while you’re going to go see the movies based on City of Bones and Beautiful Creatures, the books behind them really aren’t your thing. What you need is a good dystopian series to sink your teeth into.  Look no further than Midnight City, the first book in the new Conquered Earth Series by J. Barton Mitchell.

It’s been eight years since the aliens known as The Assembly invaded the earth and destroyed civilization. Eight years since they unleashed the Tone, a deadly mind control signal that turns anyone over 20 into a mindless zombie whose only goal is to walk to the nearest Presidium. 

Holt Hawkins is a Heedless, one of those who isn’t affected by the Tone. But watching his sister succumb to it has hardened his heart to the point where the only thing he cares about is survival. (Not that easy to do when you have a death mark on you from a vicious gang of delinquents.) Holt’s only hope is to buy his way out by collecting the bounty on Mira Toombs, a Freebooter from Midnight City with a bounty of her own.  But he didn’t count on falling in love with Mira, or that the attraction could be mutual. And when he explores a crashed Assembly ship and finds Zoey, a mysterious girl with unique powers of her own, hope and love just may melt Holt’s hardened heart. But in a world where the very next breath could be your last, is hope too expensive to keep?

The world-building in Midnight City is fantastic. Mitchell has created a haunting world where the surviving kids have rebuilt a semblance of civilization as they wait to be killed off by the alien evil. Holt is the book’s main focus, and his character development -- as he goes from a survivalist to a caring individual -- makes for a great read. Mira is also a great character; she’s intelligent, resourceful, and cares for others, risking the short amount of time she has left to try and save her friends in Midnight City. Zoey’s combination of naiveté and strange powers also make her a great character.

The Assembly aliens we meet are given just enough animal-like and human-like characteristics to make them interesting; readers will look forward to seeing what happens with them in future volumes and if they can be defeated.  The plot seesaws back and forth between great action sequences and superb moments of romance and character-building.  This is definitely a wild ride and a great read.

Midnight City is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers.  Pick it up along with other dystopian novels at your nearest DC Public Library today!

-- Brandon Digwood