Jessika Fleck’s YA novel, Beware the Night, tells a dystopian story about a sun-worshipping society with harsh divides between the haves and the have-nots. Those who accept their places may be able to survive, but the nebulous threat of “the Night” is used to keep the populace in line. Chance allows Veda to learn the truth behind the Night and also her real parentage; however, both sides need and fear her, and her heart is torn between the life she’s always known and something more.
I have mixed feelings about Beware the Night, so let’s start with what I really appreciated and enjoyed:
- Oh my goodness, the world building is incredible. Jessika Fleck’s fantasy world fleshes out a fictional culture focused on sun worship and includes many elements that help the world feel complete.
- Veda is a compelling heroine. Yes, she’s a seventeen-year-old, so I sometimes am frustrated by her, but Veda is a complex enough character that I understood the rationale behind her choices even when I didn’t agree.
- Because this is YA, Veda is set up as the “chosen one,” but Fleck subverts the trope and allows Veda to be a lot greyer than a lot of YA protagonists. If I say any more, it’s a major spoiler, so please just take me at my word!
It’s pretty clear I liked the majority of the premise, and the lead worked, so why do I have mixed feelings? I am a fan of a good romance, but I want it to be necessary and earned or be the central point (i.e., a romance novel). I couldn’t get on board with yet another YA love triangle. Veda faces enough regarding her history and the hidden secrets of her world that I found the romance angle distracting. It almost felt shoehorned into the plot to make it more palatable to a YA audience. Many readers may love the “which one will she pick?” aspect in Beware the Night. I just would have preferred more focus on Veda and her emotional journey into adulthood as she learns some difficult truths.
Beware the Night is the first half of a duology, and I’m not entirely certain I’m on board for the rest of the story (I think the romance may become more important, and since I’m not enthralled with it, I’m torn.), but I want to see Veda’s choices after the events in the closing chapters. I highly recommend it to YA lovers who enjoy world building, strong characters, and darker fantasy, and if you have a higher tolerance for love triangles than me, I think you’ll love it. It’s a great story; I just needed a little less starry eyed teenagers and more fierce warrior girl.
4 Unique Ancient Weapons out of 5
Creative Team: Jessika Fleck (Author)
Publisher: Square Fish
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