First the sun vanishes beyond an eerie red haze and then it vanishes altogether, plunging the world into a chaos darker than night. Joe Chase and Ned Bowden have one another, but in the midst of an unfolding catastrophe, they don’t have much else. But that’s okay because for a while, Ned and Joe didn’t even have each other. They were both broken in their own way, but a tentative friendship has led to the beginning of something more and in the midst of a nightmare, at least they’re together. But there’s no promise the sun will return and in the middle of a world gone mad, even love may not be enough to save Joe and Ned.
From the start, Nightfall has a tension about it, one that rolls throughout the entire book and the world it presents isn’t a pretty one. The novel has an excellent sense of place and the sinister descriptions of navigating without light in a city gripped by violence and terror are excellently executed. Ned and Joe are a very sweet couple, one that seems somewhat out of place among the chaotic and the crazy, but they become an ocean of calm for readers whenever everything else is out of control. They aren’t as fully dimensional as I normally prefer my main characters, but we’re certainly told enough about them to make their romance and their love both believable and relatable. I will say the word “juices” was used with far too much frequency and I’ll leave it to your imagine to decide in what situations that word might pop up and become rather off-putting.
As good as the description of this world-crippling event is, I do have some issues with how things unfold. First off, San Diego goes from cultured city to a Mad Max kind of insane within three days. Really? Now don’t get me wrong. People are nuts and I fully believe a cataclysmic event could destabilize society and reduce us all to savagery. But it’s gonna take more than three days. Looting and rioting I can imagine, but this book suggests that homicide becomes commonplace within 72 hours. It’s excessive. The other issue I have with the book concerns animals, of which there are many. The author does a good job of showing how animals will change their personalities during the midst of crisis, but we end up with a lot of dead birds and violent dog attacks. So if you’re an animal person, like me, or someone who has a fear of an animal attack, Nightfall comes with some serious trigger warnings. Everything in Nightfall reads as just a shade too much, a bit gratuitous, and that’s coming from someone that really doesn’t mind violence in my books as a general rule.
On the whole, Nightfall is very good and it paints a brutal picture of what humanity can become. But on the flip side, we see in Joe and Ned the best of what humanity offers and they are most certainly at the core of what makes Nightfall work. There is an excessiveness to Nightfall at times that can be a bit frustrating, but the book as a whole is definitely worth your time.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.