by Jenna Black
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Katie Carmien
Tor Teen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765380043
Date: 05 April 2016 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
When Becket hears a mysterious cry one freezing November night, she thinks it's a lost baby--but it's really something far more sinister. An ancient evil is released into the streets of Philadelphia, transforming the city into something monstrous and eldritch by night but leaving no evidence by day. As tension mounts, the government quarantines the city and normal life falls apart. Night by night, the monsters get stronger--but soon it's not just the city changing, it's the people, too. The Nightstruck are twisted, warped versions of the people they once were, free from morality and emotions…and they want Becket to join them.
Nightstruck has one of the most original concepts I've read in a while, and I think Black made the right choice in not fully explaining everything. She simply shows the reader what's happening to the city and what Becket knows, and then gets on with the story, which keeps the concept from getting in the way of the plot. The pacing builds atmosphere and suspense well--although the cover copy leads the reader to believe the novel will be more action-packed than it really is, I found that Black actually leads up to the supernatural events much more slowly, which is effectively creepy.
However, I had two main problems with Nightstruck. The first is that the narration wavers. Sometimes it seems like Becket is describing events to somebody else, and sometimes it doesn't, and at times it gets way too formal for a teenager's voice. The other problem is Becket's constant talk of how boring she is. Here's the thing: socially-awkward ordinary protagonists are relatable. But if the narrative is constantly coming to a screeching halt so the narrator can call herself uninteresting and plain again, it stops being relatable and starts being, frankly, grating.
This is a shame, because this whole oh-I'm-so-plain shtick drags down all the cool stuff about this book, including Becket, who is plenty of fun to read about when she's doing things other than insulting herself. She's brave and caring and sensible, and makes realistic blunders. Once I actually got going, Nighstruck was a quick read. It's by no means perfect, but it's a good book for fans of YA horror and suspense.