The Secret Hour & Touching Darkness (Midnighters, Books 1 & 2) - Review

The Secret Hour (Midnighters, Book 1) by Scott Westerfeld
Publication date: March 1, 2005
ISBN 10/13: 7800605195 / 9780060519537

Touching Darkness (Midnighters, Book 2) by Scott Westerfeld
Publication date: March 1, 2006
ISBN 10/13:  0060519568 / 9780060519568

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Trade Paperback
Keywords: Super powers, ancient evil, friendship, secret identities

Find the synopsis on for Book 1 and Book 2.
How I found out about this book: My good friend Drew, who carried a great disdain for Young Adult fiction (possibly as a result of the early stages of Twilight mania) was reshelving this one evening at the bookstore where we worked, when his eye happened to glance over the jacket copy--I imagine his brain doing an overly dramatic double-take (Drew is an actor by trade) and screaming "Drew! You/I/We must read this book!" It was probably around midnight. He read it, loved it, and pestered me for over a year to read it (I had attempted to read Uglies, which didn't take, so I was a pretty hard sell) before I actually did so. And guess what. My brain did a dramatic double-take, and screamed at me "Alethea! You/I/We must collect them all!"

Quickie: I abandoned Uglies. I'm lukewarm on Leviathan (though I must add, what a pretty cover).

I abso-freaking-lutely love Midnighters. Read. These. Books.

For more details, click on "Read More"

My review: I did stay up all night reading both of these. I thought it only fitting to start each at midnight and read until dawn. I did hope that, as in the book, the magic of Bixby, Oklahoma would give me an extra hour each night when time stopped and I could spend the time reading... alas, I live in the Real World. Bonus though, that no nasty things came to attack me in the middle of the night--this being a danger that does exist in the town where the Midnighters live.

I loved the premise, the dynamic among the not-quite-friends (the Midnighters number five: Rex, Melissa, Dess, Jonathan, and newbie Jessica), the lucky significance of the number 13, and the nervous action-packed pace that Westerfeld perfects in these books. The geeky math of the blue hour, where time stops, the awful beasties emerge, and the Midnighters' powers come fully alive gave the giddy nerd in me just the right thrills and chills to keep my mind on these books long after I'd turned the last page.

So Drew, you were right, I was wrong, and I will be happy to spend the rest of my days posting tridecalogisms (thirteen-letter words... hey, just read the book, ok?) with you on our GoodReads profiles. (Megalomaniacs!)

My review is definitely late to the party--the trilogy has been out for years. But I thought hey, it's Pi Day! Dess would totally dig that. And I started typing it on 3/13. I considered trying to write it with as many tridecalogisms as possible, but, let's face it, it's 2 am and I am not as clever as Dess is with pulling them out of thin air.

You may be wondering where my Book 3 review is--I have to say, I haven't read it yet. I like all my books to match and now must re-buy Book 1 (which I got in small paperback) and find Book 3 (which is out of stock at work) before I can completely read their adventure. Unfortunately the budget forecast tells me I'll have to wait a while. It's all right, I'm sure midnight will come again tomorrow...

Who should read this book: I think most middle-schoolers would be ok with this--if there were any pottymouth words, I didn't notice. There is some creepy violence (I mean, seriously, ooey-gooey dark things with claws and wings are hunting the protagonists!) but no overtly graphic scenes. The excitement comes from the peril and high stakes (um, the fate of mankind enough for you?) that the kids stand to lose if they relax just for one hour.

If you like adventure, mystery, magic, and math, you'll love this series!

Author photo from

The Secret Hour and Touching Darkness are Scott Westerfeld's third and fourth books, respectively. (They are the first two books of The Midnighters.)

Find the author at, on Twitter @ScottWesterfeld

Shortlink to this review:

Find The Secret Hour on, or buy it now! Find Touching Darkness on, or buy it now!


What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)