Thirteen Days to Midnight
by Patrick Carman
pub: April/2010/Little Brown
Teen Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Summary: 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.
Here’s what happened… Jacob Fielding receives a gift/curse from his foster dad just before their car crashes into a tree. Mr. Fielding, the dad, dies but Jacob lives because Fielding utters the words "You are indestructible" and passes on his own power of indestructibility to Jacob.
Jacob didn’t know anything about this and he’s coming to terms with the power. Jacob and his best buddy Milo have a great relationship and then Ophelia (call her Oh – I had a real problem with that nickname, or the spelling. Everytime I read I’d have to remember it was her name and not an explanation of some sort). Oh (see what I mean?) shows up while Jacob’s off school and she and Milo have become friendly.
She and Jacob have an instant connection and the three of them start hanging out. Jacob signs her arm cast (from a skateboarding accident) and uses the last words Mr. Fielding said to him, “You are indestructible.” Later, when daredevil Oh takes a super nasty spill off her skateboard, she’s unscathed.
A little freaked out, Jacob says, “I am indestructible,” and now the power that he had unwittingly given to Oh is back with him. Soon the kids figure out that Jacob can give and get back the power to people just by saying or thinking the words.
They all become obsessed with using it and it gets them into some serious trouble. Jacob and Milo decide it may not be such a good thing but Oh goes a little bonkers with the power. She wants it all the time and we watch her her lively good-natured self spiral downward and disappear beneath a power hungry angry girl overcome with thoughts of death.
The rest of the story unfolds as Jacob and Milo unravel the puzzle of where the gift comes from and how it works in order to control it and save their friend. They make some smart decisions and try to do what’s best.
Thirteen Days to Midnight kept me thoroughly engaged. I liked the characters, the original premise and the pace built to a dramatic climax. This “superpower” book was different in that it explored the darker (and realistic) side of having the power – especially when it’s given to teenagers – even well-meaning ones.
I highly recommend it, but it isn’t a fun read. Well, it’s fun to start out but then the realities and consequences of the power become twisted. The novel is dark but also thought provoking (without getting preachy) as you start to question the idea of playing God and making life and death decisions. This would make a good book club choice for the discussions that it could provoke.
It touches on death and even suicide but I think it handles both well. There’s no sex (a few kisses) and very minimal swearing.
The Cover: I like it. Ominous, mysterious and foreboding.
First Lines: Jacob Fielding stood in a small room and stared at a body. It was a dead body, someone he could have saved but chose not to. Jacob had let the person die because, in his view, it was the right thing to do.
I thought these were great. I’m ready to get into this story!
Bottom Line: Again, I wouldn’t say it’s ‘fun’ but worthwhile? Intriguing? Powerful? Absolutely. It’s a story that will stay with you.
Patrick Carman’s new book, Trackkers looks good too.
In the 21st century landscape of bits and bytes, everyone leaves a digital footprint ... even the most advanced cyber criminals. And that’s where the Trackers come in. Four tech-savvy kids armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills, the Trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Told through a collage of videos, text, and websites, Trackers #1 follows Adam, Finn, Lewis, and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Shantorian, the world’s most dangerous hacker. At least, that’s who they think they’re tracking....
As the four dig deeper into the shadowy world of online crime, they soon learn that things aren’t always as they seem.