Cindy: At Book Club a few weeks ago, one of our members gave the most mysterious, intriguing booktalk to date. Jackson, an eighth-grade boy, held an advanced copy of Race the Night (2016) by Kirsten Hubbard, alternately waving it around and clutching it to his chest.
“This book is amazing,” he said. “I can’t tell you anything about it without ruining it, but trust me, it’s amazing. Seriously, I can’t discuss it without giving away something important. You have to read this. No, I need to reread this—you can’t have it.” His passionate but vague description—one that I’ve paraphrased to the best of my memory—was unusual for this articulate young man, who is perhaps our most prolific reader, and typically far more precise in his language.
“Can you tell us what genre it is?” I ventured to ask.
“No! I can’t. I just can’t,” he replied.
By this point, everyone at the table wanted to read it, but I pulled rank and took one of the two copies that Lynn and I had received from Hyperion. I had to find out why Jackson was so gobsmacked by this book.
Those of you who’ve read Watch the Sky, a companion novel, keep the spoilers to yourselves. I need to share that book with Jackson when I see him today.
Race the Night begins with this enigmatic line: “Eider hadn’t seen the sea since the world ended.”
Eider and a handful of other children live a post-apocalyptic existence on a fenced ranch in the desert. They eat meals from a larder of canned food and take daily lessons from the ranch’s leader, Teacher, from old volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia, working through the alphabet a volume at a time. These are the only books left, and some of the pages are missing.
Eider does have one old fairy tale collection left over from before the world ended, but she keeps it hidden. In it, she saves scraps of paper that she scavenges on her explorations through an opening in the fence.
But Eider remembers a time before. She also has memories of her sister, who Teacher tells her never existed. As Eider and one of the boys start to question Teacher, their world gets even more dangerous.
I asked Jackson to write up a comment about the book to include in this review. He emailed me this:
Trust nobody. Nothing is real.
Believe nobody. Nobody is real.
Who is real? No one.
You want to read it now too, don’t you?