What We Saw at Night, by Jacquelyn Mitchard (2013)
Lots of times I listen to audiobooks I might not otherwise read based on what’s available at the time I need something else to listen to. I feel like I’ve really maxed out the audio collection of the public library system I just moved from, but they have a waaay bigger selection than the audio collection of the public library system I moved into, so I have been perusing both (don’t tell). I ran across this title, and it was one I’d never heard of, although I was familiar with the author as that one woman who’s book started that little thing called Oprah’s Book Club. I had no idea she’d written YA though, and the premise sounded interesting enough. You know I’ve been into thrillers lately, and this one sounded creepy.
Allie Kim has Xeroderma Pigmentosum, otherwise known as XP, an allergy to sunlight that makes her life a bit like a vampire’s. Unlike other kids her age, who have curfews of 11pm or midnight, Allie’s curfew is dawn. She must make it home before sunrise, or be subject to blistering skin, drastically increased chance for fatal skin cancer, and/or blindness. Luckily, Allie lives in a small town in Minnesota home to a research and medical facility focusing on XP. Those with this condition flock there, giving her best friends named Rob and Juliet, two more patients at the facility. Juliet’s an athlete, and after her skiing career comes to an end, she convinces Rob and Allie that they have to embrace the night and their lives by taking up Parkour. Parkour, or freerunning, is the discipline of getting from one location to another without letting things like sheer walls or 12 foot gaps get in your way. You may have seen videos on YouTube several years ago. Without the proper training and mindset, it can be incredibly dangerous. Even more so when you do it at night.
On their first real “trace” (the lingo used in Parkour for “run” or “routine” of sorts), the three friends take to the top of a new construction apartment complex, but before they even really get started, Allie sees something horrifying. Through the glass doors of one of the empty apartments, she sees a man standing over a girl who appears to be dead. And then the man looks up and looks straight at Allie.
Being the only one who saw anything, Allie tries to convince herself that what she thinks happened didn’t really happen. But after she starts doing a little solo investigation, things aren’t lining up. And then other things start happening. Like text messages from a blocked number. And a car that tries to run her down. And a door now shut after she left it open. To top it off, Juliet is being super weird. She’s knows more than she’s telling, and Allie starts to wonder if she’s somehow involved.
I was so intrigued by the premise of this story: super spooky (non-supernatural!) thriller, with the added layers of XP, causing the setting to always be darkness. I think I know why I hadn’t heard of it before, though. It was just okay. I mean, I wanted to know what happened, and it was definitely scary at parts, but I just didn’t feel that connected to Allie, Rob, or Juliet. And, (spoiler?) it doesn’t give you all the answers! You’re left wondering, and not in a good way! So frustrating!
So, hem, haw, 1 star.