Title: Midnight Blue-Light Special
Author: Seanan McGuire
Year Published: 2013
The sequel to Discount Armageddon, Midnight Blue-Light Special follows Verity Price as she approaches the end of her time in New York, and the deadline for her decisions about which life she’s going to choose – her dancing career, or the family business. Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing going wrong for her. Her maybe-boyfriend shows up with news: the Covenant is head to New York to “evaluate” him and to “purge” New York of anything non-human.
Not exactly something Verity will stand for. Now not only is it a choice between worlds, it’s a fight for her life and the lives of all those she protects. To make matters worse, one of the Covenant members is a distant cousin, who might be a better match for Verity than anybody else the Covenant could throw her way.
To be honest, I never bought that Verity was going to walk away from the family business. Even though she loved dancing, it never felt as important to her as she thought it was – some of that might have been because the focus of the books is on the cryptid communities and their problems, so we get very little focus on the dancing, but even when we have Verity and dancing, it seems more like we’re told how much she loves it, rather than having it be shown to us in the text. So when she realizes (about mid-way through, give or take) that she’s obviously going to chose her family’s career for her, it didn’t feel like the sudden realization I think the author was going for.
And in a similar vein, I also never bought that Dominic was going to return to his pre-Verity teachings and betray her and her family. Not just because he was in love with her (although that was part of his reasoning), but because his world-view had shifted and there was no way it was shifting back.
Interestingly, although the book is written in first-person, there is a portion written in Verity’s cousin Sarah’s POV – still first-person. It’s necessary for the way the book is told – Verity is captured and knocked unconscious, so for there to be tension for the reader as well as the other characters, we can’t know what is going on with her at first – but I wonder if it could have been told in a way that didn’t necessitate a change in POV. The two girls do have distinct voices and very different world-views, but I pretty much prefer my head-hopping to happen in third-person.
Despite some minor issues I have, the climax of the book makes up for a lot. Verity is tortured and the after-affects of that torture are not just pushed away when she tries to escape. (And the whole escape scene takes place while she is stark-naked, which is also not a thing that really happens.)
All in all, I didn’t think this was the strongest book, but the high points were very fun. 3/5 stars.