Book Review: Nightfall – Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

nightfallTitle: Nightfall
Author: Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski
ISBN: 9780399175800
Pages: 368
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Teen/YA, Fantasy
Source: Publisher


On the island, Marin has never experienced night. But now the dark is coming, as it does every twenty-eight years, and it will remain dark for twenty-eight years. As the islanders prepare to flee their island—after all, only death awaits those who are left behind—Marin and her brother, Kana, realize that Line, their friend, is nowhere to be found. Marin and Kana go looking for Line, but when they are left behind by the boats, will they survive the horrors that their island’s night will bring?


When I first heard the premise of Nightfall, I immediately knew I wanted to read it. I loved the sense of mystery, the questions of what the night held. Fantasy has really taken root in mainstream YA in a way that it hasn’t in adult fiction, but I wish it would (and perhaps things are moving that way). I love the work involved in building an intricate, beautiful world, and the imagination required to fill in the gaps.
The mysteries in Nightfall are what dominate the storytelling. Halpern and Kujawinski tell a well-paced story; it’s easy to consume this novel in one sitting, as readers will be breathless to discover the answers behind what is happening. There is some vagueness that surrounds the novel. Even in the middle of it, the reader realizes that all questions cannot be answered; we are going to have to be satisfied with morsels, rather than an overall clear answer. This doesn’t hamper enjoyment, though; indeed, it enhances the stakes as Marin, Line, and Kana must find a way to survive.
The relationship between Marin, Line, and Kana is the heart of the book. Lina and Kana are best friends, while a relationship is developing between Marin and Line. That’s not at the center of the book, though; it’s frustrating in novels when the world is at stake, yet all the main characters can think about is relationships. Realistically, the relationship between the two gets put on the back burner as survival becomes the first and foremost goal.
This novel isn’t perfect; Nightfall moves much faster in the first half than the last. The ending is satisfying in terms of plot, but not necessarily so in terms of what it’s been building to. But it’s certainly enjoyable, and works well as a standalone fantasy thriller. The creep factor of this novel, especially the first half, is high, so if you enjoy a deliciously creepy read, this is one you should add to your list.

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