If you could have only one superpower…what would it be?
This question is asked over and over again in Thirteen Days To Midnight, and I have to admit, I still don’t know what my answer would be.
In the beginning of the book, the protagonist, Jacob Fielding, ponders the possible answers to this question and he discusses the pros and cons of a couple. Flying would be dangerous, for example, and invisibility seems to be the best superpower, except that it would lead to all sorts of temptation since you’d basically be able to do almost anything without consequence. So he decides that invisibility isn’t a superpower, it’s a “lose-your-soul-to-the-devil power”.
He has a point. With great power comes great responsibility, famous words from another superhero story, and true, because power can be used for good but it can also be abused. Jacob, his girlfriend Oh, short for Ophelia, and his best friend Milo, find out the hard way what happens when they abuse a power that they don’t understand.
Jacob and his friends discover that he has the power of indestructibility, and that he can pass on that power to others and use it to save lives. It would be a really cool power to have, except how do you decide who gets to live and who dies?
They experiment with it, get into fights with it, save a few people with it, and let some others die because the power can only be given to one person at a time. Unfortunately, all those deaths that didn’t happen, have to go somewhere, and so Oh becomes home to all that darkness. Jacob and Milo have to kill her to save her, but how do you kill someone you love?
I enjoyed the story itself because it was well-written and has an interesting plot, but what I really liked about it is that it makes you think. Obviously, there’s a moral to this story and it’s telling us not to abuse power because there are always a consequences. But here’s the thing, what if there are no consequences?
There Jacob is, telling us about invisibility being a temptation at the beginning of the book, because nothing would stop you from doing anything you want with it if you were never caught. Then he tells us the story of what happens with his own superpower, of how he and his friends abused it, only to find out that there is a consequence, and when they realized it, they stop abusing the power.
My question is, if there was no consequence, would they have gone on abusing the power forever? Are we all “good” citizens because we’re afraid of the consequences, of getting caught, or are we good because we want to be, because we believe it’s the right thing to do?
It really makes me wonder; if you knew you would never ever have to face any consequence of your actions, would you lie, steal, cheat, murder? How far would you go and where would you draw the line? Or would you still be a “good” person simply because you choose to?
Now, I’m not sure if the author intended for his readers to ask these questions, but it was written for the young adult audience and most young adults are naturally inquisitive and imaginative. I’m sure they will enjoy this book on many levels.