by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published on March 22, 2016 by Dial Books
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Every story needs a hero.Every story needs a villain.Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?Someone knows.Someone is lying.
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Wink Poppy Midnight was one of those books where I wasn’t really sure what was happening, and while gorgeously mysterious and atmospheric, I don’t think it would have held my attention as well if I had read it rather than listened.
I’ve only seen a handful of episodes from each show but this book reminded me of a mashup between Riverdale and Pretty Little Liars. There’s something that feels almost supernatural amidst the unknowns, and the characters felt like they came right out of one of those shows, which both worked and didn’t in its favor.
Following 3 teens, Wink Poppy Midnight explores friendship and lust and lies vs trust, all while weaving this weird spell over the reader. On the surface, you have Wink who is eccentric and very much in her own world, Midnight who doesn’t really fit anywhere, and Poppy the stereotypical popular girl. But those descriptions don’t matter for long because the plot unfolds in a way that makes you question every character, every experience, every moment as a clue to unfolding the bigger picture.
At first, I liked Wink. I thought her perspective of the world was odd but magical, intriguing as it was so different. Her fantasies, her stories, never felt truly made up. Something glinted at the fringes, some sort of truth. In contrast, I just didn’t like Poppy at all. She’s the Queen Bee, the mean girl, and if we’re supposed to hate her then I’d say the author did a good job there. Even with the potential for redemption, I wasn’t feeling it. Midnight fell somewhere between the two, a neutral ground character that I didn’t care about nor hate, just a conduit for the events around him.
But this is the kind of book where the characters aren’t as important. It’s a vibe, a feeling you get when you read it. Part whimsical fairy tale, part thrilling mystery, set in a contemporary world that might be more than it seems. Or it might not be. I was never truly sure which one it was until the end.
Unfortunately, when a book is so heavily moody without an engaging cast of characters driving the story, I tend to lose interest. It worked out that I chose to listen to this book rather than read the hardcover on my shelf, so if you’re also someone who needs more than “atmosphere” to keep you hooked I’d recommend the audio for this one (which was quite good).
And so I leave you with this wishy-washy review because even after thinking about this book, I’m still not sure where I stand with it. Points for setting the mood but then lacking characters I cared about leaves it somewhere in the middle floating aimlessly as I felt Wink Poppy Midnight did in my head.