For this month’s installment of Book Review, I chose the novel Minutes Before Sunset. The novel was written by Shannon A. Thompson, an awesome young writer, and someone whose promising career I plan to follow. I discovered Shannon’s book via her blog and thought it would make an interesting read.
Minutes Before Sunset tells the story of two high school students as they live their regular, seemingly uneventful lives. We’re first introduced to Eric, a surly teen and someone who harbors a secret. He is not truly human.
He is, in fact, a shade, a member of the Dark. Shoman, Eric’s shade name, is a warrior of the Dark, and the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. The Dark is at war with the Light, and in a twist, the Dark protects humanity from evil while the Light is the true evil in the world.
The second student is Jessica, the new girl in town. Jessica has always known that she was adopted, but has no idea who her biological parents are, knowing only that they are dead. She knows that she was born in Hayworth, and since she is back in town, Jessica wants to use the opportunity to find out more about her origin, and her family, much to the chagrin of her adopted parents.
Eric, in his human form, is standoffish, to put it mildly, while Jessica is trying to acclimate to a new school. The pair is forced to work together when their science teacher assigns partners for a science project. Their partnership is tenuous at first as Eric is openly antagonistic towards his partner, but Jessica’s tenacity in confronting him wins him over. While it would be a stretch to call it friendship, a respectful understanding develops between the two.
In his shade form, Shoman meets a new shade. Of concern to him, the stranger is unfamiliar with what she is, and as such, poses a threat to the Dark community. He befriends her, despite the inherent danger, and promises to teach her about what she is. He also decides to keep her presence secret from the Elders, to protect her, fearing that the Elders would kill her to protect their community.
It is clear from the beginning that the mysterious shade is Jessica, but because she grew up outside of the Dark, she has not gone through the naming ceremony as is, therefore, unnamed. As shades, they quickly become friends, never suspecting who the other is in their human form. Unbeknownst to the pair, their relationship had been prophesied, and puts in jeopardy the hopes of winning the upcoming battle, one that could end the conflict once and for all.
What I like about the novel is how it is written from both Eric’s and Jessica’s point of view. Each POV is distinguished by a new chapter which is titled by the character’s name. It took me a few chapters to grasp what the author had intended, but once I did it made it easy to follow.
Thematically, the story deals with issues of prophecy and destiny, responsibility and free-will, and friendship and love. It deals with how people compartmentalize their lives, keeping a public face while at the same time harboring a private identity. We see how Eric has a difficult time with his human side while Jessica manages with apparent ease.
Honestly, I have to say that it was an enjoyable read, so much so that I immediately read it again. The litany of names had me confused as some of the characters have both a shade name and a human name, and trying to figure out who was who became a small challenge, but not so much so that it distracted from the story.
Overall, my impression is that this is a well-written story. The main characters are interesting as separate people, but it is the tension between the duo as they come together that makes them compelling. You cannot help but root for them, and feel for them as the are swept into the prophecy.
I most definitely recommend that you buy her book. Minutes Before Sunset is the first in a trilogy, the second of which is scheduled to be released this fall. I confess that I’m intrigued, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.