Title: Thirteen Day to Midnight
Author: Patick Carman
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
When Jacob’s foster father whispers, “You are indestructible” seconds before dying in a car crash that should’ve killed them both, Jacob never imagines he could possess a real superpower. To test it Jacob and his friends start indulging comic book-like fantasies. Later, they commit to use this amazing power of indestructibility to do good in the world and save others from death. But how do they decide who to save? And what happens when they blur the lines of life and death, right and wrong, and good and evil? Thirteen Days to Midnight is a nail-biting tale of dark intrigue, powerful romance, friendship and adventure.
This is a book that will definitely appeal to boys. What boy wouldn’t love the idea of being indestructible?? And what teenager wouldn’t test fate if they were put in this situation? When I share this book with my students they all love the idea! The boys pretty much cheer! What I like about the story though, is that it doesn’t just stick to that part of the story. Carman could’ve easily written a story about teenagers running with this power and having no consequences, but he didn’t stop there. Instead he explored the idea of what happens when you cheat death in this way. That exploration is what held my interest. If it wasn’t part of the book, I wouldn’t have read much beyond the first few “deaths”. There wouldn’t have been much point to keep reading. Instead Jacob begins to question what they are doing, and Carman makes the reader question as well.
My concern, though, is whether the target audience will want to explore that aspect or if they’ll just want more examples of how they cheat death. I’m also concerned that they may miss some of the more subtle aspects of the book such as Jacob’s relationship with his foster father – the one that passed this power to him. I also wonder if they’ll fully understand the consequences of what they are doing and why it’s wrong. I know I had to read carefully! I worry it may be missed by some readers who went into it for the initial concept. I hope they’ll get it all because I think it’s a great idea for kids to question and think about. I just don’t know if they will. I also plan on making sure that kids that read his book understand it is more a young adult book especially with how the whole situation has to end. I found that part a little hard to read!
On quick thought on the character of Oh. I did find her kind of annoying. At first she was fine but she became more and more pushy as the story went along, and that made me like her less and less. I had hoped the ending would redeem her some for me – it did but only to a point.
Final thought: Carries beyond the simple concept into a larger debate
Best stick-with-you image: Oh at end in the basement
Best for readers who: Can stick with a book that isn’t 100% what they thought it would be
Best for readers ages: 12+