Midnight’s Choice: Good followup

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Kate Thompson Midnight's Choice SwitchersMidnight’s Choice by Kate Thompson

Midnight’s Choice is the second book in Kate Thompson’s Switchers trilogy, concerning fourteen-year-old Tess who has the ability to change into any animal at will. It begins right where the last book ended, several months after Tess and her Switcher-friend Kevin have destroyed the terrible krools, with Kevin alighting at her bedroom window in his last (and now permanent) form: a glorious phoenix. It may be necessary to have read Switchers beforehand, just to sort out the characters, the background history and the abilities of Switching, as it is an important point to know that at the age of fifteen, a Switcher’s powers disappear, and whatever form — human or animal — that they choose is theirs for the rest of their life.

But Tess’s fifteenth birthday is not for a while yet, and instead she is enjoying the exhilaration and endless peacefulness of being a phoenix alongside Kevin. But there is another force at work — Tess’s pet rat Algernon is being called forth by an unknown master, to dig alongside hundreds of rats in uncovering a mysterious stone artefact. Investigating in rat-form, Tess discovers a fellow Switcher named Martin, who has very different ideas on how to use his powers than Tess and Kevin ever had. Tess herself is intrigued, even attracted to Martin’s interpretation of a Switcher’s power, but is just as pulled toward Kevin and his newfound glory.

And then the zoo captures Kevin, and the phoenix becomes an instant attraction. People line up for hours in order to glimpse its beauty, rendering them almost drugged by its influence. But with the phoenix set to be sold to an American collector, Tess has only a limited time to release her friend before he’s lost forever. With some enigmatic advice from a visiting Lizzie (the old woman who previously helped Tess and Kevin on their trip to the Artic), Tess must find a way to save Kevin and subdue Martin, all the while torn between them and the alternating choices that they embody.

Midnight’s Choice is a good followup from Switchers, though I must admit enjoying the first book a lot more. Kate Thompson continues building on the mythos of the Switchers and of Tess’s internal growth, but for me at least all of the characters remain quite detached — I could never feel particularly close or sympathetic toward them, and slow pacing in some areas doesn’t help. Tess’s parents in particular are confusing; I can’t imagine any parents of a young teen letting her get away with half the stuff Tess does.

However, Tess is likeable enough, and unlike the krools of the previous book, the enemy she faces here is inside her own self. The duality of the phoenix and Martin is put to good use in examining the light and dark side to Tess herself, as is Tess’s final decision on the matter. Although Midnight’s Choice is not essential reading, those that do pick it up are likely to be interested enough to continue with Wild Blood, the third and final book in the series.

Switchers — (1997-1999) Young adult. Publisher: Tess is a switcher — she can take on the form of any animal she chooses. But she must be alone, as is true of all Switchers. Soon she realizes that Kevin is also a Switcher who has been summoned to save the Northern Hemisphere from being destroyed. And Kevin needs Tess’s help to do it.

Trilogy:                                                                                               Omnibus:

Kate Thompson review 1. Switchers 2. Midnights Choice 3. Wild BloodKate Thompson review 1. Switchers 2. Midnights Choice 3. Wild BloodKate Thompson review 1. Switchers 2. Midnights Choice 3. Wild Blood   Kate Thompson review 1. Switchers 2. Midnights Choice 3. Wild Blood


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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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