Midnight City - J. Barton Mitchell You can also read this review on Flying Kick-a-pow! Reviews.An alien race known as the Assembly has taken over the earth. All the adults are gone, having succumbed to a telepathic alien signal called the Tone, but everyone under the age of twenty is still able to resist––which means the fate of the world lies in the hands of teens and children.Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, pursuing a treasure seeker named Mira Toombs who has a massive price on her head. Holt soon is able to capture her, but the two of them have an instant connection that he didn't expect. On top of that, the two of them find a crashed Assembly ship in which they discover a little girl named Zoey. And for some reason, the Assembly seems to be after her. The three of them start off on a journey to the underground Midnight City. Along the way they encounter mutants, artifacts with strange powers, pirates, and––of course––aliens. And at the same time, Zoey is starting to demonstrate otherworldly abilities––which Holt and Mira believe might help to stop the Assembly forever.Midnight City was, in some ways, a surprising read for me. I wouldn't say it's extremely original, because there are a lot of typical tropes in it. What surprised me was that I actually became pretty invested in it. While the beginning was a little strange and confusing for me, about halfway through I became hooked. This is one story that really gets rolling and never slows down.It didn't surprise me to learn that the author comes from a screenwriting background. The book definitely has an action-movie feel to it (which is a good thing in some ways, and not so good in others). It's very fast-paced, plot-driven, and focused mainly on action. What mostly kept me reading was that aspect of it––that the plot never came to a stand-still and there was always something happening. In addition to that, I liked that there were so many different elements to the story. J. Barton Mitchell creates a very crazy world with a lot to explore in it. Sometimes it felt like it was almost too much, and the explanations of it all weren't extremely clear, but at least it kept things from getting boring or repetitive.However, there were times where Mitchell falls into some pretty bad info-dumping. For example:The Tone turned most people who heard it into the Succumbed, the mindless slaves of the Assembly. But for others it had unexpected effects. The Heedless were one: people like Holt who were immune.Then there were the Forsaken. People who didn't Succumb to the Tone, but rather were driven completely insane by it, reduced to horribly violent, animal-like monstrosities. They were drawn to one another somehow, lived in commune-like groups in various parts of the world. At least that was what the stories said. Few who found them lived to tell about it.So, I think you can see what I mean. There were some instances like this that were just long rants which dumped a lot of information and random new terms on the reader … and those were not fun to read. The characters were pretty iffy for me. At the beginning of the book, I really disliked both Holt and Mira. They were just total assholes to each other all the time––since, you know, Mira was Holt's "prisoner" and he kept like, tying her to trees and shit (how kinky).As the story progressed and they kind of fell out of that captor/prisoner thing, they became less annoying and I liked them a bit more. And I could see that the author was trying hard to give them convincing backstories and everything. But … I still just didn't feel much sympathy for either of them. They just didn't have very strong personalities and came off as being more like props to propel the story forward and not as people with a lot of depth. Not to mention, it was pretty clear from the first time they met each other that they were going to fall in love and all that jazz … so, their romance wasn't all that compelling for me.And honestly, I couldn't stand Zoey. She really annoyed me. It's very difficult to pull off a child character, despite what most authors seem to think. And in this case, I didn't think it worked. Zoey is one of those cringeworthy little kid characters who just sounds completely robotic and creepy all the time and … I guess it's supposed to be endearing? Well, anyway …That brings me to another major problem, which is that the book was full of too much random convenience. Basically every time the characters are in a disastrous situation, they get out of it via a) magical artifacts that Mira has, or b) Zoey's random superpowers. It got to the point where the story was losing the suspense factor, because every time something bad happened, I was just like, "Oh, Mira will whip out a magic rock or Zoey will do something magical, and the day will be saved." I remember being taught back in middle school English class that if you're going to write fantasy, magic can't solve every single problem in the story. And, well, that's kind of what happens in this book.But even so, I did find myself enjoying this book most of the time. While the characters are a bit on the boring side, at least the story had a lot going on and it was exciting. And there are still a lot of important questions to be answered, like:- What's the deal with Zoey? What's with the super-duper powers and stuff?- What's with all that weird stuff the Oracle showed Zoey?- How did Holt become a bounty hunter and all that stuff in the first place?- Do any of these characters eat anything besides cupcakes?- How does Max (Holt's dog) live off of only eating candy (which, not to mention, can be poisonous to dogs)? Okay, the last two were jokes. But, you get what I'm saying.So yeah, even though this first one was a little "meh" for me, I will probably read the sequel. P.S. I kept getting this song stuck in my head the whole time I was reading this. Also aliens seem to be the "NEXT BIG THING" in YA. Hmm.- Flying Kick-a-pow! Reviews