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Midnight at the Electric

Review

Midnight at the Electric

The year is 2065 and Adri Ortiz, an orphan from Miami, has been selected to be one of the few starting colonists who will inhabit Mars. Leaving shouldn’t be a problem for a girl who has no one to miss --- except, she does. Months before her launch date, Adri has to move to a farm with Lily, an old relative she never knew existed. There, she discovers the journal of Catherine Godspeed, who lived in the same farm during the Dust Bowl Era in 1934. As Adri reads on, she becomes captivated by the story of a girl who changed everything after finding an old letter.

In England, 1919, Lenore Allstock is still recovering from the death of her brother during the First World War, with nothing but optimism and a friend in America to keep her going. All girls are joined together by one thing: a tortoise. Adri has never questioned her choice to leave Earth, but suddenly she grows an attachment to these girls and a piece of history she never knew she belonged to. In this alluring novel, Jodi Lynn Anderson, bestelling author of TIGER LILY and the MAYBIRD trilogy, tells a story of growth, sacrifice and love.

"Anderson gives us three strong female friendships bound together by history and a tortoise. She shows us familial, romantic and friendly love. Most of all, she is not above choosing what is right for the characters rather than what the reader would want."

After reading the words “Mars” and “2065,” it’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that this book is going to be some type of science fiction about a futuristic world where the Earth is dying and humans have to leave the planet and live on Mars. While this is definitely true, it also isn’t at all what the novel is about. The aspect where climate change was the ultimate downfall of Earth is a compelling concept that could’ve been explored, but in the end the story works well as it is. If I had to classify the story, I would call it more of a historical contemporary with a futuristic aspect --- not confusing at all, really. But putting aside our human tendency to categorize, it was beautiful.

The novel starts off with Adri, anti-social and impatient to leave Earth. Compared to the rest of the book, the first part was definitely the hardest part to get through. Adri hadn’t been anything special then, just another loner YA book main character. The most intriguing thing about her was that she lived in a soon-to-be-dead world because of our generation. Lily, on the other hand, was quite the character from the beginning --- loud and friendly as any old person with a lot of life experience under their belt would be. Then Adri shut her out and took away one of the few things that made her interesting. Safe to say, that she was not an enjoyable character to follow during that first part of the book.

But all of that changed once she found a cryptic postcard dated back to 1919 and the novel suddenly took a turn where everything was making sense. It was slow, but that’s how Anderson decided to tell the story. It felt more personal that way. No, this wasn’t a story about a girl who has to turn her life upside down once she reaches Mars, because we don’t get to follow her there. This is the story of a girl who has to learn miss Earth, and she does so through a journal and letters. Catherine’s inscription about the dust bowl put the reader right next to her, knee-deep in dirt and unable to breath. The sense of longing and desperation for her sister’s survival causing her to turn to superstition, until she realizes that there’s only one person to save them --- herself. Just as Lenore did in England 1919, but instead of physical suffocation, Lenore was facing emotional asphyxiation: the grief of her brother’s death.

Anderson gives us three strong female friendships bound together by history and a tortoise. She shows us familial, romantic and friendly love. Most of all, she was not above choosing what was right for the characters rather than what the reader would want. Each girl is becomes an idol to growth and maturity that hopefully continues to be portrayed in our literature. Anyone who wants something heartwarming, but heartbreaking should definitely pick it up.

Reviewed by Sabina Z., Teen Board Member on June 29, 2017

Midnight at the Electric
by Jodi Lynn Anderson