Review: What We Saw at Night (What We Saw at Night #1) by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Quick review for a somewhat quick read. “What We Saw At Night” is an odd YA mystery. I don’t know if I can say that my impression of it being “odd” is a good thing, because the oddity lies in its overarching presentation despite some pretty awesome/interesting elements. There were so many things about it that pulled me in – the depiction of three friends who have XP, a rare fatal allergy to sunlight; the Hitchcock “Rear Window” allusions when Allie thinks she’s witnessed a murder; the attention to the sport of Parkour.

However, I had a hard time connecting to it the entire time I was reading. I kept waiting for it to strike well with me, to get better, but nothing really remained with me through the entire read. Allie’s a difficult protagonist to follow – very judgmental, overly quirky to the point where it feels forced (though that accounts for some of the dark humor here, which is hit and miss). The whole “forbidden love” aspect is one-sided and mostly shaming of the friend-trio between Allie, Rob and Juliet. Rob is a really bland character, and Juliet is so over the top and at odds that I felt like there should’ve been more to her character than what was presented. I wish I could say that the story had characters that connected with me, but the only one I remembered the most was Allie. The overarching mystery kept weaving in and out of the narrative in tangents, to the point where the intention of the narrative would frequently be lost, taking away some of the more relevant points of tension.

The book ultimately ends with nothing really resolved (despite an emotional ending), even in the face of a major character death. I care enough to finish the mystery to see how it ends, but I can’t say that it was a very memorable experience and it wouldn’t be a novel I’d read more than once. Hopefully the second book provides a little more connection, but the presentation of this gives me low expectations.

Overall score: 2/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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