If you could only have one superpower, what would it be? How about being indestructible?
In Thirteen Days to Midnight, author Patrick Carman has put together a very strong YA novel. The story focuses on a teenage boy, who has to overcome the guilt of being in a car accident with his foster father, leaving the man dead. He is perplexed by the final words that his friend/caretaker says to him, when he hears him say, “You are indestructible,” right before the car hit the tree and killed him.
Jacob doesn’t think too much of it, until he returns to school after a period of mourning, and meets the new girl: the beautiful Ophelia James, or Oh, as she likes to be called. She sports a cast on a broken forearm, and Jacob has the honor of being the first to sign it. Taken in by her beauty, he wants to write something memorable, and witty. The only thing he can think of, are those final words he heard before the crash: You are indestructible.
From here, Jacob, Oh, and best friend Milo discover that there is power in the words, and that Jacob has control over it. If he says the words to someone, he can actually make them immune to anything, until he decides to take the power back. Only one person can have the power at the same time, but it opens a ton of possibilities for the trio of teens.
Thirteen Days to Midnight is a highly entertaining read. We are taken on a fun (to begin with) journey, where the kids take their time in establishing the rules of the power, considering how to use it to do good for people, and testing the limits of it. This allows us to read the descriptions of the many acts they undertake to see if they remain indestructible, and it lets our own minds run wild with the possibilities.
Of course, there are problems that arise. Jacob begins to discover that everytime he releases the power, his body begins to crave having it back, and when it is with others for too long, it begins to take its toll on them, both physically and mentally.
Here we get to learn more about the power, about the creepy, yet wonderful cult-ish book store owned by Milo’s father, the perfectly named Mr. Coffin. There is a history between Milo’s dad, Jacob’s pseudo-father, and the power, and the history is quite intriguing. Our heroes need to decide how to reign everything in when it seems like it is spinning out of control, and deciding how much responsibility weighs on them to do the right thing with it.
There are parts of this book that drag slightly, and some parts where the explanations are fairly confusing to understand, especially when it comes to the origins of the power, and how it really works when a life is saved, and is passed back and forth between people.
Regardless, this is a very good YA book. It is accessible to both males and females, and Carman is able to write a good, entertaining book without many of the downfalls of many recent YA novels. There is no sex, aside from a couple of very G-rated comments by Jacob, and even though there is a fair amount of implied violence, it never gets to the point of some books, where the violent descriptions are actually quite shocking. There is good balance here, but it doesn’t leave the reader any less entertained.
Generally, the pacing is quite solid, and the characters are likable. The subplots also do a good job in keeping the story moving forward, as there are several of them that add to the intrigue of the story.
Thirteen Days to Midnight is definitely a book I would recommend to kids, especially for those who are growing tired of series books, and want something with the same kind of excitement, but without having to commit themselves to reading an entire series of books. Now that I’ve said that, watch Carman turn around and make this into a series. But whatever, this is a fun book to read, with a fairly original premise.