Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Will McIntosh
Burning Midnight
Delacorte Press
320 pages

Seventeen-year-old David Sullivan’s life is about to change—all because of one tiny, priceless item found in the murky bottom of a Brooklyn water tower.

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make rent.

No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the more expensive—and the greater the improvement.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is worth millions, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

It's hard to get a great idea and premise. It's even harder to execute the idea to become a great oeuvre. McIntosh's Burning Midnight is a living proof that you can have a great and atypical premise, but its execution falls flat. 

I mean look at the blurb. There's a worldwide phenomenon--I use this phrase twice in two days--where colorful spheres inscrutably appear all over the world. Each sphere has distinct color and it gives people who "burn"--you need a pair of same-color spheres to "burn" the sphere by rubbing it on your temple (the head temple, not temple temple, I hope you get it)--the spheres a unique ability, such as increasing IQ, gaining an inch in height, singing better, possessing super vision, anything like that. It doesn't bring you new magical ability (such as teleportation or pyrokinesis); the spheres more like improve your possessed senses by altering your DNA or something. No one knows. 

So, when our main character was still thirteen, he found a rare sphere. It's red cherry, and apparently, the red cherry sphere creates new wave of sphere-raining when it's burned. More spheres appear, more abilities are added. Until he met Hunter, a witty and direct girl, who's also a sphere hunter. When they both found a gold sphere--a new color and extremely elusive one--they are faced with important decision to save their lives from Holliday, a greedy businessman who monopolizes the sphere-business in USA. However, after deciding, they began to realize that their decision may not be the best, and they must fix their mistake to save the people they love the most. Moreover, to save the world. 

How can I not be hooked with such premise? It looks great and thrilling. The first few pages may seem dull, but I still have in faith toward this book. It promises me a great story. 

Yes, the final scene is really great and electrifying. I would not expect that the book turns out to be some horror B-movie, but indeed it's really amazing. But one thing that I hate about this book is McIntosh makes this book become a typical young adult. Not that a young adult book is bad--please see Red Rising, a young adult book that can be enjoyed by adult people--but sometimes it doesn't make sense for adult people. For a concept this great, it's very unfortunate to see the stupid characters do stupid things that adolescences do, with typical teenage drama and romance that is cringeworthy. Burning Midnight has minimal character development, and the first few chapters are all about the boring life of our protagonist, Sully. The best thing takes place after sixty-percent of the book, and yes, of course it makes the climax seems rushed, making the ending is kinda deus-ex-machina-y. 

Honestly, it leaves me wanting more, which is great of course. I really want this book to be a trilogy--which is really rare. Not because I love the characters or the stories, but i want to learn more about the origin of the spheres, about the world-building--which is really lazy in Burning Midnight if I must say. If only McIntosh writes this book for more mature readers, builds the universe slowly, and makes better conflict, Burning Midnight will be amazing. I see the potential on this book. 

But, yeah, who am I to complain? 

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