Tabitha Olson's Reviews > The Midnight Charter

The Midnight Charter by David Whitley
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May 09, 10

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Mark and Lily live in a society based completely on trade. No one does anything for free, and debtors are severely punished.

This story has interesting concepts about trade and charity, but it really doesn't feel like a story for the intended audience. Other reviewers have called this YA, but it's supposed to be middle grade (9-12). Mark and Lily don't act like any twelve-year-old I've ever known. Not even the ones who basically take care of themselves. They behave more like sixteen or seventeen year olds, and I think that's reflected in these other reviews.

But my biggest complaint with this story is the lack of consistency. Everywhere.

The flow from chapter to chapter is always broken by lots of time and events that the reader hasn't seen, and so we need to play 'catch up' each time we start a new chapter. As a result, the beginning of the story jumped around so much that I was impatient for the real story to start.

The characters aren't really consistent, either. For example, one minute Mark is refusing the use of bottled emotions, and the next time we see him he's handing them out to other people. What changed his mind? Lily is more consistent, but even she jumped around a bit. For example, why didn't she immediately ask Mark to become a patron of the Almshouse? She's smart and resourceful, and I think that would have been one of the first places she'd have gone. But she didn't, and that made later parts of the story feel contrived.

The Midnight Charter itself isn't even consistent. If a charter is the basis for an organization, spelling out the mission and direction the group wishes to take, then what is a prophecy doing in the middle of it? Seems like a prophecy would have come after the charter had been written.

I also agree with many other reviewers in that the story's messages are heavy handed, and unoriginal. Also, the whole story doesn't feel like it can stand well on its own. It feels like it had no other purpose than to lead up to the next book, and got stretched out with filler along the way. I don't mean to sound harsh here, but this is a pet peeve of mine - if a story needs to be told in three installments, then do it that way. If it doesn't, don't force it to because the end result is a weak story. I think that happened here.

Overall, I didn't feel that the story was carefully planned out, and instead feel that I'm being manipulated into buying another book in order to read the real story behind the Midnight Charter. Not the way I like to end a book.

I think teenagers might find this book interesting, but will likely be put off by how young Mark and Lily are. I just don't see kids 9-12 enjoying this.
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