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Review of "Midnight" by Beverly Jenkins

On Friday, I wrote about the crap luck I've been having choosing books to read and how I wasn't sure whether I should continue reading Midnight by Beverly Jenkins.  Not long after publishing, I decided that I had had enough.  There are far too many good books out there (if only I could find one) for me to keep reading one that wasn't engaging me.

That was the main problem I had with this book.  It just wasn't pulling me into the world.  I couldn't see myself walking the same streets as Faith and Nick (and not just because I probably wouldn't have been in the same area of town as they were).  An author needs to really describe the setting for me to feel like I could go there for a visit, but this time Ms. Jenkins wasn't able to do that.  I just didn't feel as if I was in colonial Boston, even with all the name dropping.  Actually, each time that John Hancock or Sam Adams was mentioned I was pulled out of the story, which I am sure was not Ms. Jenkin's intention.

The other problem that I had was that there were portions that sounded like they came right out of a history book.  For instance:
The city of Boston was named after a town in England’s Lincolnshire County. Colonial Boston was the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Following the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, it stood as the wealthiest and most influential city in the colonies. Its deep harbor and favorable geographic placement also made it the busiest colonial seaport; a remarkable accomplishment considering the city was founded by one man. From his days at school, Nick knew that the man was William Blackston or Blaxton, depending on which records were consulted, and in 1625 he had lived alone on the open grassy plain known to present-day citizens as the Boston Commons. When other Europeans arrived in 1636, they purchased hundreds of acres of land from him, which no doubt surprised the native population, who’d had no idea Blackston owned the land they and their ancestors had lived on for centuries.

Jenkins, Beverly (2010-10-26). Midnight (Kindle Locations 256-262). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

While learning about the history of the city of Boston is nice (I did live there for two years), I don't feel that this was the place for it.  As a matter of fact, this felt more like a lecture (history-infodump-apaloosa) than it did a part of the narrative.  There were a couple of other paragraphs like this in the first few chapters and each time I got to one of them I was pulled out of the book and found myself in a classroom instead.  Not good.

There were a couple of things that I liked about Midnight, most notably the mixed feelings Nick has about his father, Primus, who was killed in the first chapter.  Early on we learn that Nick left Boston to fight for the French during the Seven Year's War and that this drove a wedge between him and his father.  He is torn between the anger he felt towards his dad prior to learning of his death and his grief over the fact that he would never see him again.

Another thing that I liked was that Ms. Jenkins did a good job of describing the way the colonists felt during the period just prior to The Revolution.  While I couldn't picture myself walking into the Baptist Church that they went to, I could feel the character's edginess and uncertainty.

In the end, however, I couldn't get passed that meh feeling and I had to put it down.  Back to the library you go.  No stars.


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