Discussion Review: Nightstruck by Jenna Black

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Title: Nightstruck
Author: Jenna Black
Genre: horror, paranormal
Series: Untitled #1
Pages: 304
Published: expected April 5 2016
Source: publishers for review

The night is the enemy, and the city of Philadelphia is its deadliest weapon.

Becket is an ordinary teenage girl, wrestling with the upheaval of her parents' divorce. Her biggest problems to date have been choosing which colleges to apply to, living up to her parents' ambitious expectations of her, and fighting her secret crush on her best friend's boyfriend. That all changes the night she tries to save an innocent life and everything goes horribly wrong.

Becket has been tricked into opening a door between worlds. As dark magic trickles into Philadelphia, strange creatures roam the streets and inanimate objects come to life, all of them bloodthirsty and terrifying. The city returns to normal when the sun rises each morning. The moment the sun sets, most citizens shut themselves in their houses and stay there no matter what they hear.

The magic is openly hostile to most mortals, but there are some it seems to covet, trying to lure them out into the night. While Becket struggles to protect her friends and family from predatory creatures of the night, she is constantly tempted to shrug off her responsibilities and join them.

Joining me for this discussion review is my usual bookish discussion partner Lyn of Great Imaginations and also today we have one of her cobloggers, Kara!  

Kara: I feel like this is going to be a really interesting discussion. After days of pondering, I still don’t know how I feel about Nightstruck. There were many things I liked, but I also don’t really care for how the book made me feel. So I am sitting here unsure of my rating still, and I am hoping this discussion really helps clarify it for me.

Lyn: I agree, I almost liked it, but then there were things that I just didn’t care for. So I’m really struggling with my own feelings towards this novel. In the end, I didn’t care for it, but I appreciated that it wasn’t the same old YA novel with the same premise. It WAS at least different.

Jessie: Look at us, all hanging out in the same boat, the SS We Just Don’t Know About This One. Obviously I find myself of the same mind as the two of you ladies when it comes to Jenna Black’s newest book. I wanted to like it, and some parts of it did work, but on the whole it felt chaotic, and left me vaguely disappointed.

Kara: I think my expectations were not met, for a start. I expected a paranormal YA but instead I got a really dark, gory horror YA. Which is fine, but I wasn’t in the right mood for this, and it just really depressed me, all the death and destruction. The book was just so saddddd. IDK. I do have depression, so it may have affected me differently than you guys, but it is what it is.

And then, the story was just...I don’t know. It did feel a bit repetitive and I hated that the only female character other than the protagonist became the antagonist, and I just didn’t care for the message it was sending? Okay, wait. There was a female parent, but she was hardly in it. I am just left shrugging my shoulders. The writing was fine, the characters were okay, but that’s all I can really say.

Jessie: It was a really gloomy book. I don’t mind darker novels, but yeah, this was definitely described as a more supernatural/paranormal story than a gory and horror-y one. I wasn’t emotionally affected by it very much -- probably because I cared so little about any of the characters -- with one exception being the dad. It’s hard to do more than just react to the characters when they are so underdeveloped.

Lyn: I felt that this was a smashnovel - two separate novels shoved together to make one. I think the first part, about a girl struggling with a friendship that is almost great, but is overall unhealthy, would have made for a wonderful novel. There were some real issues that I would have loved to seen resolved, but then then ‘paranormal’ part came in, and it all felt so disjointed. Like, if you want to write a contemporary novel, then go for it! I think the friendship between Becket and Piper and finding a way to resolve the issues would have been a great novel on its own, but it is like the author had two underdeveloped ideas and just stuck them together. The magic part was never explained, it was just like “dunno” and shrugged off, and with the conflict with the girls, well, before anything can really be resolved, THE END OF THE WORLD HAPPENS. It left me really frustrated.

Jessie: I loooove this point. I agree 100% but couldn’t put the words together. This does feel like two different books that were conjoined FOR REASONS.

Kara: Frustrated is a GREAT word for how this book left me feeling. The ending was frustrating, the death of a certain character was frustrating, the lack of character development was frustrating, not getting any answers was fucking frustrating. I just wasn’t left feeling satisfied at all. As for the rest of what Lyn said, I think that’s a really great point. I could have been two novels. I was definitely upset by turn that the female friendship took and I would have liked to see that developed as well, but it wasn’t. I am just irritated thinking about this book all over again.

Jessie: The more I think back and look at how the book was developed and executed -- it just doesn’t quiiite feel like a cohesive story, which Lyn so ably described due to the smashnovel nature.  But also, in addition to the haphazard mashed up genres, the book starts out on a strong note, but it’s a fast race downhill once the supernatural element is introduced. It’s like the author thought that “oh hey it’s ~~magic” and that was a good of a reason as any for all this to happen. She didn’t think to explain beyond her basic premise about how the supernatural angle functioned.

Lyn: And as Kara pointed out, the ending was just a huge letdown. Coupled with a novel that was all over the place, it didn’t feel complete. And then the lack of action on anyone’s part. Did no one think to shoot these people, the Nightstruck? I understand not able to fight the actual magical creatures, but the regular people? Why can no one take them down? It just seems so odd that they run amok and everyone is helpless.  Also, why did we get this glimpse of something awesome happening soon (the king and queen of the night?) and then we never get to see it? I feel that we never have the whole story, and the more I think about all of this, the madder I become. There was so much that the story was lacking. And the worldbuilding was not there at ALL.

Kara: I loved how parts of the setting were developed, and I loved that it was set in Philly, and I am betting we are going to get world-building answers in the next book, but I won’t be sticking around to find out. I just don’t like when an author leaves me hanging like this. And now I have a lack of trust. I used to handle books with most cliffhangers, but I can’t really do it anymore. I don’t mind reading series, but don’t leave me fucking hanging with no answers. Nuh-uh.

Jessie: I wasn’t a huge fan, or even a fan at all really,  but I did like some of this -- that her mom left and her dad stayed aka not a typical home situation, that it wasn’t set in the same places as most YAs tend to be, there were a few moments of genuine creepiness -- but overall, I wasn’t enthusiastic about Nightstruck. It’s the first of a series but this was a one-book stop for me, personally. I won’t be back for answers, if there are ever any. I agree with Kara -- no answers at all feels cheap and like a waste of my time.

Lyn: I can’t say I care to come back for the answers. Bye bye Nightstruck.

2.5 stars from me. It gave it a good shot, and it was almost interesting, but I’m left with too many questions and not enough push to see if the rest of the series answers them.

Kara: It’s a two from me. That second star is for the writing, which I really liked, but that’s all this book gets.

Jessie: 2 out of 5 for me, as well. Black can write and is a decent storyteller at times, but this was a miss for me. 

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