Review: Midnight City (Conquered Earth #1) by J. Barton Mitchell

Title:  Midnight City
Author:  J. Barton Mitchell
Series:  Conquered Earth #1
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date:  October 30, 2012
Pages:  384

Format/Source:  eARC/Received from Publisher via NetGalley
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Science Fiction, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic

In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything…

Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet’s youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira’s growing attraction to each other.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first novel in the Conquered Earth series, and a stunning work of imagination from debut author J. Barton Mitchell. (Cover photo and synopsis from Goodreads)

What a Plot…

I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi plot.  And Mitchell has created a fantastic one. It’s 8 years after an alien invasion, and all (or at least most) adults have “Succumbed to the Tone,” a kind of brainwashing that turns their eyes black and turns their bodies and minds into drones who set out for the alien spaceships and never return.  Then there’s a boy who’s Heedless (he’s immune to the Tone), a girl who is wanted by Midnight City (one of the major human cities left) for crimes unknown, and a young girl who somehow knows what others are thinking. Plus there are these charged artifacts that, when put together, can create kind of magical objects.  Sounds totally me, doesn’t it?

Well, the plot was great.  The part with the Forsaken (I won’t get into details because that would be a spoiler) was so creepy and awesome.  And several of the scenes were full of great action and twists and turns.

A Bit Disappointing…

But that’s kind of all there was to this story, unfortunately.  It took me forever to finish this because the cool premise was all that had me hooked.  I mean, I wanted to know what was up with Zoey and what was going on with the aliens.  And I thought Midnight City was really cool and the trading posts along the river were interesting.  And I liked how there were major consequences for using some of the artifacts.  But I was really confused during a lot of the book, mostly because there were so many new terms (what I was calling “vocabulary words”) that went either undefined or weren’t explained until much later in the book.  And I really felt like there were a lot of inconsistencies.  And a lot of the writing was very cliched and cheesy.

I really hate giving “negative” reviews.  I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  I hate to do it, but I want my reviews to be honest.  But I really don’t know what else to say about this book.  I wanted to love it, and honestly, the plot was there.  But everything else was just pretty disappointing for me.

My rating for Midnight City, by J. Barton Mitchell:

I think this could have been a great book, and perhaps the series will get better with each book.  I don’t like giving these kinds of ratings, but I’ve got to be honest.

Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Macmillan
Similar storylines:  The Host │ What’s Left of Me The Girl Who Owned a City

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review (Thanks, St. Martin’s Press!). I was not compensated in any other way for this review.


  1. Jessie Marie

    November 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Well, I'm sorry this one fell short – I know you were pretty stoked about it. You do make a great point however, in that a cool plot does not carry a story. It's much more complicated than that and sci-fi depends on clear explanations, etc.

    Great review. I'll have to put this one a little lower on my TBR. ; )

  2. Bittner

    November 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I feel like there is a correlation between the books that receive a lower rating on your blog and the books that I never even know that you are reading. Like if you give a book a high rating than odds are you've already gushed to me about it so I know that you are reading it. But then when you review books that you maybe didn't like as much as others, I've never heard of it.

  3. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    November 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I'm sorry that this one fell short, I'm finding that a lot more authors these days are just making up a new vocabulary for their stories and that's confusing when those words are not explained… I feel like all these new books need to start coming with a dictionary. Always love the honesty of your reviews :)

  4. Kate Midnight Book Girl

    November 2, 2012 at 12:00 am

    At least you gave it your all! I'm not a huge fan of science fiction, I prefer the fantasy aspect of it like Piers Anthony, but I'm fairly open to any genre if one of ya'll really like it. I'll probably skip this one, but you did a very nice job at explaining why it was just a two star for you and you shouldn't feel bad!

  5. fakesteph

    November 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Sorry you didn't love it! Don't apologize for being honest! I appreciate your honesty.

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