Reviews are in for Thirteen Days

Kirkus: March 1, 2010

THIRTEEN DAYS TO MIDNIGHT
Written by Patrick Carman
April/ Ages 12 up
ISBN: 978-0-316-00403-9

 
A ward of the state for most of his life, Jacob has bounced from home to home until landing with the eccentric and mildly iconoclastic Mr. Fielding—who, when the car they’re in hits a tree at 60 miles an hour, dies, but not before passing on an unusual attribute. And with the same three simple words, the 15-year-old forever alters his life and the lives of his two friends, Milo and Ophelia, as he passes along his power of invulnerability. Using the power for altruistic purposes after a period of extreme experimentation, Jacob learns that protection from death comes with a steep price. Instead of offering a horror movie rip-off, Carman explores survivor’s guilt and raises theological issues, all within an action-packed and twisted tale. Ophelia’s haunting breakdown adds a second layer of complexity to the narrative, though Milo seems to avoid any sort of development. Mr. Fielding’s journals offer slightly more exposition than is necessary, but the author pulls the story together without too heavy a hand. Page-turning suspense through the end.

PW: March 15, 2010

THIRTEEN DAYS TO MIDNIGHT
Written by Patrick Carman
April/ Ages 12 up
ISBN: 978-0-316-00403-9

In this largely successful contemporary dark fantasy, Carman’s first book for YA readers, 15-year-old Jacob Fielding has both a secret power and a guilty secret. He is literally indestructible―nothing can hurt him―but gaining this new-found ability cost the life of his kindly but mysterious foster father. When Jacob discovers that he can share his invulnerability with others, he, his friend Milo, and the school’s new girl, Oh, test its limits (in cringe-inducing scenes involving a lighter, a 12-foot fall onto a lamp, and a batting cage) and begin using it to save lives. But they learn that playing God―even with the intent to help―has consequences, and as Oh becomes increasingly obsessed with borrowing Jacob’s indestructibility, he realizes the power has a dark will of its own, with “unrelenting claws digging into my bones like a cancer.” The novel occasionally suffers from moments of incoherence and its attempts at moral complexity can seem forced, but it produces serious chills and should appeal to readers who have grown out of Carman’s Atherton and Land of Elyon series.

Booklist: May 1, 2010

THIRTEEN DAYS TO MIDNIGHT
Written by Patrick Carman
April/ Ages 12 up
ISBN: 978-0-316-00403-9

The author of the Land of Elyon series crafts a creepy fantasy-mystery for older readers. Grieving over the sudden death of his well-liked foster parent (and harboring a guilty secret about that), Jacob discovers that his inheritance includes the power of invulnerability. Bemused, he shares his imperviousness to pain or physical damage with his impulsive best friend, Milo, and a beautiful, intense new classmate named Ophelia—and discovers that he can temporarily pass the ability on to them. He quickly comes to regret the sharing, as Ophelia engages in an increasingly dangerous round of tests, stunts, and life-saving rescues. Ominously, the power also begins to feel darker and wilder as it fends off death after death. Carman cranks the suspense up smoothly on the way to a horrifying revelation, a (literally) shocking climax, and a not entirely happy, but at least not tragic, ending. A provocative take on the theme that every superpower comes with a price.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books: May 2010

THIRTEEN DAYS TO MIDNIGHT
Written by Patrick Carman
April/ Ages 12 up
ISBN: 978-0-316-00403-9

 
While many teenagers might think they are invincible, fifteen-year-old Jack actually is; miraculously surviving the violent car crash that killed his foster father, Mr. Fielding, he has since found that Mr. Fielding’s last words, “You are indestructible,” were a revelation. When Jake realizes he has temporarily transferred indestructibility to gorgeous, thrill-seeking new girl Ophelia, known as Oh, Oh suggests that she, Jake, and friend Milo test the power and use it to help others. As indestructibility is passed around, however, something dark and deadly begins to envelop the trio, and they are forced to consider their own mortality, the line between saving and killing, and the unintended effects of their actions. In order to manage the power and emerge unscathed, Jack, Oh, and Milo will have to unravel the mystery of Mr. Fielding’s cryptic life and discover the origin of the power. The book is at once superhero story, philosophical pondering, and eventually, horror, and each of these strands is managed effectively. While the novel’s pacing stumbles occasionally, the compelling ethical dilemmas provide sufficient interest between bouts of pulse-quickening action, and Jake’s vibrant first-person narration keeps the reader engaged and smoothes out any rough spots in the plot. Invincibility is a what-if that is intriguing to consider, and this version of the life/death conundrum is enticing and ultimately entertaining.

School Library Journal: May 2010

THIRTEEN DAYS TO MIDNIGHT
Written by Patrick Carman
April/ Ages 12 up
ISBN: 978-0-316-00403-9

Jacob Fielding shouldn’t have survived the car accident that killed his foster father, but he did. A week later, he writes “You are indestructible”–Mr. Fielding’s last words to him–on the wrist cast of Ophelia, a new girl at school, and soon after, she comes through a devastating skateboard crash without a scratch. With his final words, Mr. Fielding had gifted Jacob the power to keep death at bay, and the boy, along with Oh and his friend Milo, begins to play with life and death. Jacob can pass his power to others, and he does: first to Oh, and then to anyone the three can find who is in a situation likely to be fatal. What they don’t know, and only discover when Oh’s behavior becomes violently erratic, is that death cannot be stopped entirely. For every life they save, someone else must die. This page-turner is a natural choice for reluctant readers and fans of both adventure stories and supernatural thrillers. While Jacob and his friends seek out and shun death, they also explore the bounds of friendship and first romance. The story behind Jacob’s power, an intriguing tale involving Harry Houdini, may encourage readers to delve further into the magician’s history. Despite a few underdeveloped plot points, this novel will engage many readers.

1 Comment

  1. Jake Converse says:

    Dear Mr. Carmen,
    I am a student at Thunder Mountain Middle School (yes, the one that is closing down) and you visited on 4/26/10. I as well as one of the libraraians remember that you said that you invented board games. We forgot to ask you which ones. If you could email me and tell us which ones. that would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Jake Converse

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