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Literature: Midnighters
Strange things happen at midnight in Bixby, Oklahoma...

Midnighters is a young-adult book series written by Scott Westerfeld. It's set in the small town of Bixby, Oklahoma (which, incidentally, does exist in Real Life). The main premise is that there are 25 hours in a day. The 25th hour is nicknamed "the blue time" because everything has a slightly blue glow, and takes place right after the stroke of midnight.

This is much Worse Than It Sounds for the Heroes, because creatures called darklings and slithers inhabit the blue time, which are as nasty as they sound. Also, technology and most ordinary people become frozen in time, and look like they came straight out of Uncanny Valley, according to the Midnighters crew.

They're the heroes, and are the only people who can walk around and be not frozen in the blue time. They are Jessica, Jonathan, Melissa, Rex and Desdemona (who goes by Dess, for obvious reasons). They all have nonstandard powers (and are very sensitive to light).

Jessica's power is that she can make technology work in the blue time, and Jonathan is an acrobat, which means he has an extreme ability to jump. Melissa is a mindcaster, which means she can read minds (and she can't stop, she's constantly bombarded except during the blue time. And she goes to high school.) Rex is a Seer, meaning that he can see only things related to the blue time; everything else is blurry without his Cool Shades. Desdemona is a polymath, meaning she is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really good at math.

Not to be confused with the Midnighter.
Midnighters tropes

  • Abusive Parents: Rex's father. That is, until Melissa MindRapes him.
  • Alpha Bitch: Constanza Grayfoot is the fashion-obsessed queen of the school who struts about with her girl posse and dreams of being an actress in L.A. She's part Native American, not blonde, and is more harmlessly superficial than actually evil, so she's not a straight example.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Beth. But she starts to annoy Jess only after she realizes that Jess was hiding something. And she actually has a personality.
  • Badass Normal: Jessica and Jonathan during the normal hours, since their powers are useless outside of Midnight. Though Johnathan can still work out angles and jumps for Le Parkour, he just can't leap five stories in the air anymore.
  • Battle Couple: Jessica and Jonathan and by the end of book 2 Rex and Melissa.
  • Beta Couple: Rex and Melissa.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The last book.
  • Blessed with Suck: Melissa's power, until she learns how to control it. Reading minds sounds cool, until you realize that you're reading everyone's mind at once and you can't turn it off. Now imagine being stuck with that in high school.
  • Chosen One: The Flame-bringer.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Being able to enter the Blue Time seems really cool at first. Then you bump into the nasty things that live there. You still get some really snazzy superpower out of it, though, some of which (polymath, mindcaster, metallurge) are possibly even more useful outside Midnight.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The real protagonist of the trilogy is either Jessica, Rex, or Dess.
  • Eldritch Abomination: All the Slithers and Darklings probably count, but the elder Darklings especially.
  • Enemy Within: Rex in Blue Noon, as a result of a sort of twisted Split Personality Merge.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The darklings and slither bites.
  • Fear Discover Power: Type 1 seems to be associated with the nastier sorts of darkling. Rex can do it too, and at one point intimidates another character by doing...something to make himself resemble a snake.
  • Fictionary: The Lore seems to be its own entirely different language, although we don't get to see it beyond the symbols for the talents of the Five-Man Band. Seers seem to be born with the ability to read and understand the language of the Lore, but it is possible for others (including non-Midnighters) to learn it.
  • Five-Man Band: There is definitely some overlap, but here's how it falls for the most partnote .
  • Friendly Enemy: Angie, eventually.
  • Good with Numbers: Polymaths. Dess can do lengthy, difficult, and intricate calculations easily in her head, and she can come up with thirteen-letter names in an instant.
  • Hates Being Touched: Melissa. She gets better, though.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Anathea, a Seer from 50 years ago that got turned into a "Halfling," a human-Darkling hybrid. She gets progressively weaker, so the Darklings try to make a new one out of Rex. It works for a while, but he gets better. Though he still carries some of the traits, like an aversion to math, metal, and the number 13, and has the occasional predatory instinct slip.
  • Hour Inside Millisecond Outside
  • Improvised Weapon: Since any piece of a metal alloy given a 13-letter name is a deadly weapon against the Darklings, most of the weapons and defenses tend to be fairly mundane (and sometimes bizarre or random) objects, like screws, bolts, paper clips, hubcaps, silverware, trash can lids, letter openers, a fence or two, and one particularly badass microphone stand.
  • Jump Physics: Acrobats. During the blue time, gravity's pull on Jonathan and whoever or whatever he's touching is sharply decreased. He puts the jumps in most Platform Games to shame.
  • The Load: Jessica (for most of the first book), who attracts Slithers and Darklings like roadkill attracts flies. Then she learns what her power is.
  • Magikarp Power: Jessica.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Madeline, an old mindcaster. Among many other things, she used her power to convince Melissa's and Dess's mothers to push either just a little earlier or later, so they'd be born exactly at midnight.
    • Melissa too...actually, this is pretty much par for the course for mindcasters, apparently. Both of them affectionately (or not) get the title "Queen Bitch" at some point. And dear lord do they ever prove that they deserve it.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Jessica and Jonathan, after Jessica becomes confined to the Blue Time in exchange for fixing the rift between the normal hours and Midnight. Jonathan will continue to age as normal, but Jessica only exists for 1 hour each day and therefore will age by 1 day roughly every 3 weeks.
  • Mind Rape: Mindcasters are good at this. Melissa accidentally mind raped Rex and Johnathan on a small scale when they touched her and her mind raping was responsible for Rex's father turning into a vegetable.
    • Poor Dess gets mind raped pretty badly twice in the second book. First by Madeline, although that wasn't entirely mind rape as she planted useful information and then gave Dess a trick to freely block and unblock it. Second by Melissa, trying by brute mental force to tear down said barrier and get said information out of Dess. She certainly isn't happy about it, but she survives with her sanity intact. Mostly.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Madeline. Yeesh.
  • New Transfer Student: Being a new student at tiny Bixby High School gives Jessica an almost celebrity status when she arrives.
  • Numerological Motif: 12 (for the Darklings) and 13 (for the Midnighters). Factors of both numbers exert equal power as well.
  • The Ophelia: Melissa.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Dess filed down some of the pegs on her music box to make it sound more like this.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: From 12:01 AM to 11:59 PM. (Although Rex's, Melissa's, and Dess's powers do work in the daylight hours.)
  • Pair the Spares: Actually sort of averted, since Rex and Melissa had the couple vibe before they formally hooked up, and Dess is still single at the end of the series. Actually, since Dess never expresses romantic affection for anyone or anything (except maybe math and numbers), it's possible she's Asexual.
  • Perky Goth: Dess.
  • School Saved My Life: Inverted. All of the Midnighters' powers correlate to a school subject, which they excel at because of the powers (except Melissa). Dess: math (trigonometry this year), and probably engineering as well; Jonathan: physics; Rex: history; Jess: chemistry.
  • See-Thru Specs: The Seer power. Rex is mostly blind without his glasses, but things touched by Midnight (including Midnighters) appear in sharp focus. When he wears his glasses, "normal" things are clear, but stuff involving Midnight gets blurry (or outright invisible in the case of runes and lore).
  • Serious Business: The source of the tension between Rex and Jonathan. Rex wants to learn all there is to know about Midnight and thinks there's some deep higher purpose to the existence of Midnighters and their powers, while Jonathan (who has the fun power) thinks Rex is being way too "Stop Having Fun" Guys about it.
  • Shown Their Work: While he may have gotten the time frames wrong (see Fridge Logic and the Headscratchers page), Westerfeld still had to do a decent amount of research, primarily on numbering systems, making this series overall a welcome subversion of Writers Cannot Do Math.
  • Supporting Protagonist: One of the characters in the running for overall series main character is Dess, The Smart Guy.
  • Telepathy: The Mindcaster power. But unless you know how to control it properly, it's far more of a hassle than a perk.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: For Slithers and Darklings, that is. If you're a human, it's your best weapon.
  • Time Stands Still: Of the "moving incredibly fast" variety.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Rex.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Or 13.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Lore conveniently neglects to mention the things the area's old Midnighters did to stay in power.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve
  • You Are Grounded

Michael VeyYoung Adult LiteratureThe Midnight Library
Metamor CityFantasy LiteratureThe Midnight Folk
MiddlesexLiterature of the 2000sThe Midnight Library

alternative title(s): Midnighters
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