Lynn: My dad used to say that there’s no such thing as free lunch. But it sure seems like free lunches are the rule in Will McIntosh’s addictive page-turner Burning Midnight (2016), set in a world where brightly colored spheres imbue people with powers; the rarer the sphere, the more expensive it is, and the more valuable the ability it confers. In the nine years since the first sphere emerged, millions of people have developed a dizzying array of wonderful new talents with nary a side effect. Who wouldn’t want straighter teeth, faster reflexes, a photographic memory, or math skills to rival a calculator? But no one knows where the spheres come from or how they work. Only a few wary people remain who haven’t held a pair of the bright colored spheres to their temples and enhanced themselves.
Seventeen-year-old Sully buys and sells spheres in the flea market to help out his single mom. Ever since he found and was cheated out of a rare Cherry Red by greedy billionaire Alex Halliday, Sully has dreamed of revenge and finding another rare sphere. When he teams up with Hunter, a beautiful girl with a mysterious past, they concoct a plan for both. But, as it turns out, my dad was right: there is no free lunch. The truth about the spheres is scarier than anyone could have guessed.
Hugo-winner McIntosh’s debut novel for teens is a wild ride with an imaginative premise and an appealing Scooby Doo-esque quartet of characters. The science is a bit vague, but the high-octane plot and fun premise more than make up for that. Stock up on copies!