Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck
When Veda is tossed into the middle of a revolution that has light pitted against dark, everything she knew is turned upside-down and she must discover who she really is.
Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck is about a world where there are two sides: light and dark, and one girl who is caught between them and must decide whose side she’s on before all out war breaks out. This is Fleck’s second YA novel and the first in a series.
Veda has only known one world – the one of a divided Bellona, where Dogio rule with their Imperi army and Basso live with them in a fractured peace, where a dangerous revolutionary group, the Night, can strike at any moment. Being Basso, Veda knows that her life is under constant threat – at any time she could be captured by the Night and never seen or heard from again. Still, she values her close friendship with Nico, a Dogio she’s known since she was a child. Despite their differences, Veda and Nico cherish any time they can spend together.
But when Dorian shows up, Veda’s world changes and soon she finds herself caught mixed in with the Night and she discovers that the life she’s been living was a lie. Now she must decide if she wants to fight for change or return to her old life.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
I’m a bit disappointed because I was really into the first half of this book. I found the world interesting, the interplay between light and dark, the society. But it wasn’t developed enough – there wasn’t enough explanation of why things were the way they were or much about the customs and the origin story left me with many questions.
As the book progressed, it became a bit predictable and and introduced certain cliches which I am not fond of (i.e. love triangle). I also found the main character, Veda, to be a bit lacking. At first she appears confident in herself and has a strong core of beliefs, but when pushed even a little, she folds like a deck of cards. She becomes very weak and it’s difficult to watch her struggle with every last obstacle she has. Her heart is so easily swayed that I just stopped trusting in her, which made it difficult to finish the book.
It didn’t help that the ending is unsatisfying. It’s a cliff-hanger and, because of the way the story progresses, it leaves the book feeling unfinished. I’ve read novels before that have cliff-hanger endings, but there is still a sense of story completion to them. With this story, almost every character thread is frayed and in a state of flux. I’m disappointed with the uncertainty at the end of this novel because it means I have to read the next one, even though I didn’t enjoy this book.
Literary Value: 3/5
The writing was fine. I didn’t dislike or love it, but nothing really jumped out at me or made me enjoy the experience of reading it. I felt the character development and the overall world building were written well enough that I could visualize each character and imagine the world they were walking about in.
However, I feel that there were certain parts to the story that were not very clear or the writing felt clunky. Particularly when describing Veda’s atlatl. I had to look it up because I could not get a good sense of it at all. There were also areas in the book where characters were moving about each other and their exchanges felt really clunky. I couldn’t picture the movements or what it was they were doing very well, so it took me a bit out of the story.
Otherwise, I feel the writing was fine, but not memorable.
Entertainment Factor: 3/5
As I said earlier, I was really into the first half of the book and enjoyed the story up till then. I found the concept of a divided country and a threatening revolutionary group that only appears in the night to be intriguing and I wanted to know more. But after a certain point, I stared to grow tired of Veda, of the story taking predictable turns, and the ill-written love triangle. It honestly felt like the author was forcing things and it made the story way less enjoyable.
The things I did enjoy eventually turned into things I didn’t, mainly that the world building slowed and did not become any clearer, Veda became less powerful and more ridiculous, and the Night didn’t make much sense. Overall, the story was just so-so, and I enjoyed half, so I didn’t mark it down too much.
Cover Art Rating: 3/5
In some ways, I feel like the cover is misleading because it seems way cooler than what the story turned out to be. I love the color scheme, the deep bluish purple, the gold and white. There’s a real contrast going on, which represents the two warring factions. The items pictured reflect important components in the novel: the hourglass that they use to tell time, the atlatl spear, the fishing rod and fish because Veda is a strong fisher. Because the world isn’t built enough, I don’t get a sense that the illustrated people on the cover reflect the people who appear in the novel – the dress isn’t delved into very much and so I’m left feeling that the cover image and what is in the book are not completely in sync.
Overall Rating: 2.75/5
I was let down by this book. It started out so interesting and cool, but it ended up being a bit predictable and cliched. I so, so wish it lacked the love-triangle and that the world building was stronger. I think this book is on the edge of being really good, it just took too many wrong turns for me. Some of the things I disliked might not bother other readers, but having read many fantasy YA novels, I feel this one just isn’t a strong example of one. Not to mention the overall lack of a whole story, the cliff-hanger ending, which leaves the reader with lots of questions and no answers. The resolution isn’t there and that, really, is my main issue with this book. I think if it had taken a few further steps, there could be a more cohesive ending. It just felt like the author had a complete story idea that was too long to fit one book, so she just picked a place to end in the story. It feels half-finished.
Open discussion below!
What do you think? Are you going to read Beware the Night when it hits the shelves? Have you read Fleck’s other novel? Let me know what you think in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you ☺