Coco Ma has a way of writing compulsively readable stories with fascinating characters and plot twists that I truly never see coming. i hope dearly that there is a sequel!
This one had enough action in it for me. I would say go read it and let’s discuss it because there were some moments in there that I would really like to have a conversation about.
I've enjoyed all of Coco Ma's books since I read Shadow Frost, and I am happy to report that Ma continues her excellent work with Nightbreaker. The book hooked me and reeled me in instantaneously; it was perfectly paced.
I received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I first thought. It kind of came out of shadows and smacked me in the head. I enjoyed Rei and the main character. A little bit of second chance romance feel for me. It was fun that I got to see the two side of her personality and what she wants out of her life. That is getting back at the monsters who took her parents for her, but also competing against her ex for the dream.
Fifteen years before the Deathlings became part of the normal life for those who live in Manhattan, a “mysterious chimney orange steam with fluorescent white stripes rises out of the intersection.” It is followed by blowing up which causes a crater where steam is gushing out people disappear never to be seen again. Rei. who is on the way to school finds her uncovered skin burning from the steam. Then suddenly the light disappear from the steam that becomes like a fog. Later people continue to live their lives but it’s different. No one can be out when it is dark. There is a warning of bells clanging warning people that nightfall is shortly going to occur. Rei goes to a bakery just before the warning.and goes with her baked goods to a subway. Subways are off limits as that is where the Darklings live. They eat people. Rei goes into the subway to bait a Darkling with the sweet and hides behind her hiding spot. When a Darkling comes to eat it, she realizes it looks wrong but then realizes it must be a pup. A large Darkling appears attacking Rei. While it tears at Rei, she suddenly finds iRoland saving her from certain death. Roland laughs when she tells him that she is practicing killing the Deathling to win the tournament so she can become a Maverick like Roland slaying Darlings. He laughs at that. It is the Syndicate who is in charge of the tournament besides just control of Manhattan. When other cities were attacked it was figured out that the Darklings were coming from Manhattan as they had discovered that it was where the nest of Darklings was there. The government decided no one could leave Manhattan. When barricades didn’t work, they decided to blow up the bridges so no one could leave. It was definitely not something the Manhattan people wanted. So this became the way people survived by following the rules given with the manor one was to be home by nightfall. When Rei got back to the dormitory of her school, she was scolded by the dean. Rei was worried about tomorrow as she was to meet with one of the Syndicate’s master tomorrow. What will happen to Rei?
The novel is gripping and grim. It was a page turner to read. If found that I enjoyed reading the novel and didn’t want it to end. I hope there will be a sequel to it. This urban fantasy is action packed and never boring.
- thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc to review!
- a solid debut to a series but felt a bit flat when reading. it's not much of an issue for me, since i assume Coco Ma will elaborate the overarching story in the later installments.
Manhattan is now cut off from the rest of the world after the Vanishing occurred and monsters have taken over the night. New Yorkers walk the streets by day and act as though all is normal, but are terrified after dark—with the exception of a select bunch known as the Mavericks. Rei and many other students, including her ex boyfriend Kieran, have worked tirelessly for the opportunity to join the elite team and are willing to put their lives on the line in the Tournament in order to get there.
This totally gave me 2000 teens dystopian novel vibes and I was so excited to revisit that kind of story. Think Hunger Games or Divergent. I loved this story and can’t wait for the second! Filled with tons of action, I was never bored and couldn’t stop turning pages.
4.5 ⭐️s rounded to 5
My star rating is based on the quality of the material of this book and not my overall enjoyment.
I found this to be actually a very good dystopian sci-fi, that was generic in the way dystopian stories play out...
- Apocalypse of some kind (in this case monsters have taken over Manhattan, and the people in Manhattan have been quarantined from the people without)
- War games for purposes of training soldiers
But it was also very unique in the writing imagery. It felt like the reading equivalent of watching anime. Very good anime. The descriptions were over exaggered interns of physical descriptions and emotional reactions. It was had not to picture it as a Studio Ghibli film.
I however wasn't very invested in the characters or storyline. I don't blame the author or the writing for this. It was probably just a case of the wrong book at the wrong time. I do think that this is worth the time if you want to take a chance on it.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a complimentary advanced copy of this book. All the opinions are my own.
This book gave me Hunger Games tournament meets urban apocalyptic monsters and hunters. I devoured this book in less than 2 days. Once I was hooked, it went so fast.
Rei has spent her life hunting monsters that appeared after The Vanishing. This was her goal, and she strived for the best to qualify for The Tournament which would allow her to join the ranks of the Mavericks, those with the skills and knowledge to fight these monsters. As she participates in the Trials, she learns more about this world than she thought. Then, everything goes to hell in a handbasket. Long thought theories and established ways begin to unravel faster than Rei can grasp them. Everything she thought she knew and had been taught has been turned upside down and sideways. As she struggles to get her footing, she discovers so many secrets that were hidden from her and the public along with new friends that come from the most unexpected of places.
This book hooked me from the beginning. The plot, secrets, intrigue, teenage angst....it was *chef's kiss*. Rei is the typical teenager with complaints, stubborn determination, and opinions of any girl her age. In the beginning, she denies her past trauma, but eventually works through it and uses it to rise above adversity. The characters are varied and bring varying perspectives and opinions about what has been established. Plus, there is the hate to love relationship with the ex. Secrets are still yet to be revealed, but hopefully that will happen in book 2?!
I absolutely love this book. A school for monster hunters? Yes please! Deathlings that are unique to this world and not like other creatures I've read about? Sign me up! Add in a competition with only one winner, high stakes and a rival that used to be an ex and it makes for the perfect tournament fantasy book!
If you liked Mortal instruments, divergent and even fourth wing then you'll enjoy this book!
I've never read anything by this author before, but the cover and blurb caught my attention. I did like Rei, and she was easy to root for. There's a lot of action, but it was a bit hard to follow everything on occasion. It felt like the author was trying to do a bit too much, which made it confusing. The characters were okay, but I'd expected more depth. The book was just okay overall, though the storyline, in general, seemed to mainly be setting things up for a future book.
Have you ever read a book and been left wishing/wanting/hoping it’ll become the next big thing?
Well I would like to nominate Nightbreaker to become the next big thing. This book was OUTSTANDING!
It’s so incredibly written that you get sucked into every single word and punctuation and letter and everything. You become consumed by this world and every character we meet. When I had to put the book down, it was all I could think about until I was able to pick it up again.
If I could scream from the mountain tops to get you all to read this, I would. Read it and thank me later.
I’m so excited for the sequel to this fantastic dystopian story.
Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this novel. 4/5 stars.
Overall, I really enjoyed the concepts and the main character Rei in this. I liked how it was dystopian in a sense where NYC is cut off from the rest of the world and is faced by Deathlings. I like the influence of NYC culture in creating artifacts. There were so many good elements that kept me turning the page and consumed by the story (which, surprisingly, was also semi-gory and incredibly violent?).
I didn't realize this was the first one in a series though (?) and SO much gets revealed in the last 1/3 of the book and the plot twists and 60000 other things where I was almost....upset? Because it didn't really flesh out a lot of it and didn't solve previous plot points or gaps...but also now I want to read the next one ASAP to learn more...
While the characters bear some resemblance to previous, hero and villian, the story line and actions are unique, at least to me and I read a lot. With good intentions and incentives, the competition will allow the winner to act on their own and set their own goals. But they first have to best their competitors. This was a very good start to what looks like a series. My tweens and teens enjoyed it and for the two groups to agree, it's almost a miracle.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Selling Pitch:
Do you want to read a dystopian YA, urban fantasy that is the lovechild of the Hunger Games and Night at the Museum that is also COVID commentary?
That is Ronald McDonald on the cover.
Thick of it:
You know, good on this book. I went into it with such a sour mood, but then it opened and I genuinely want to read it. I’m in. But alas, it is 1 a.m. and time to sleep. We’ll try some more in the morning.
No subways in NYC? Complete collapse
I’m picturing the Spooky Island demon monsters from Scooby Doo lmao. (Again!)
No because I’m so down. Rivals to lovers, rivals to lovers
I also don’t know what a whelk is.
Wow, never mind. What a cunt.
Wow, that feels like covid commentary.
I’m gonna need them to explain how the city is still surviving if no one’s allowed in or out because like food? But also, the government would just nuke Manhattan. They wouldn’t even hesitate. I don’t believe this for a second.
Oh, they destroyed the bridges to Manhattan. That’ll stop them. No, it wouldn’t. Build some boats, you losers.
What sort of after-school special line was that?
So her parents are dead, and I’m sure it won’t be for an elaborate government cover-up because they found out that the deathlings aren’t actually evil and are 1000% just mutated citizens. (Why do I even read books if I can just open them and know what happens?)
It’s giving pandering diversity. Stop it right now.
It’s giving Fourth Wing so much
Bread and feral geese is a new metaphor, and I don’t like it.
Oh, well he’s definitely evil. (Master Sasha)
How much you wanna bet she finds a candy wrapper that proves he’s evil?
The government’s just keeping them alive? For why? The government ain’t got pity.
Why would you want to be unconscious? Like I’m sure it’ll be explained, but this book’s got a lot of explaining to do. (Either I missed it, or they genuinely never explain why people would want to take a drug to be unconscious in the field while they huntin’ monsters.)
Is this sapphic? (Sam says yes, author says no?)
This is an anime character. (Storm)
Somebody’s gonna die here so that the author can prove to us that these creatures are super dangerous, but it’ll be an NPC, so we really won’t give a shit. (No death. Wrong, Sam.)
Wow, they really dance-mobbed him.
Oh, she’s got an ex-boy? Love triangle? (I don’t like love triangles normally, but I’d be down for one in this book.)
It’s gonna be me
How would you not know your girlfriend's mom?
Oh, not a dead dog!
That had better not be intentionally vague rape commentary because we are absolutely not going to trivialize it like that.
Oh, don’t call Harlem students chimpanzees. How did an editor let that through? OH NO.
Oh, the government told you you can’t talk about it? Ha ha, that works on teenagers.
That’s knockoff Caesar Flickerman.
Gotta catch’em all, he’s Danny Phantom
And he’s the dude from the mask? My god, pick a lane.
Oh, look at that her ex-boyfriend knows the government’s actually evil. What a surprise. (Does he? I may be giving him too much credit. Ask me in book two.)
No, thank you I will not be remembering all these people. (And I didn’t have to :) )
She’s not gonna place.
Have I mentioned that I love being right?
Don’t tell me about the dead dog!
Not to minimize dead dogs, but it’s giving Pippa from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
If Declan dies, we riot, but like it’s giving Declan is gonna die. (He’s safe... for now.)
Did she really just Pocahontas New York City? Can you paint with all the colors of the pigeons?
Also, I know I’m making fun of this book a lot, but it’s classic dystopian YA, and I’m having a good time.
Oh, so homegirl‘s necklace is definitely the missing artifact.
Lol, it only heals those injuries so that the author doesn’t have to worry about ableism.
Oh yeah, he has a super bad sweet tooth, and the deathlings are obsessed with candy, but don’t worry, he’s like definitely not evil, guys. (Ask me in book two.)
Lol it took me a second to remember who Roland was. And by was, I mean is because I don’t believe that that bitch is dead. Because how else would we have a love triangle and honestly kinda hope that he’s the better option. Because other boy ghosted and lied, and that’s not anything to build a partnership on. (I still want this, and I think it will be a better series if it happens.)
Hey, you know what’s not good optics? Armbands for military things. It’s giving Nazi. Perhaps not, bestie.
Oh, it’s giving annoyingly woke. Like just why? Why do that? I love representation. This is not it. This is cheesy and over-the-top and virtue signaling when you’ve got some bad choices going on elsewhere in the book.
Is she saying Winnie Harlow? You can’t just list off diversity like this, though. It feels inauthentic. It feels like you’re reducing characters to what box they tick for representation.
Did she just say one of them is a furry? Girl, no.
Dude, it’s a bicycle. Who the fuck cares?
What’s more concerning is that no one‘s riding around with helmets. Where is his goddamn helmet hair?
Can you be dreadfully pasty? Are we skin color shaming in this book? What’s up, Bestie?
Why only 10 minutes?
He’s always eating sugar. He’s 100% a demon.
A rat furry? Come on, you’re shitting me.
Don’t tell them what you discussed? You didn’t discuss anything!
They’re literally just playing paintball capture the flag.
That is body shaming.
Like I just don’t understand how you’re going to try and be PC and diverse and then literally make fun of people for the way they look.
Lol and they’re putting it on TV because why not? Nothing says made for reality TV quite like teenagers trying to kill each other.
And obviously they’re playing this game in the middle of Central Park because no one needs to walk their dog or anything.
I’m so weak. I love a sunshine pet name every time.
How much do you want to bet the prom theme is a masquerade?
You’ve got a box of your ex's nudes? Yikes.
Not god sin lol. I LIKE IT EVERY TIME, SUE ME
Did he have pudding in his pocket this whole time? That’s so gross. Body temperature pudding.
Sometimes this book is so aggressively YA.
If they’re old enough to drink, then they do not read old enough at all.
A reduced drinking age? Lmao, please.
Oh, deathlings are in the water so they can’t boat away. Helicopters then? Zipline?
Girl, who are you to judge? You brought a gun to gym class.
If anyone reads this book without hearing Ryan Reynolds every time they say her name, you’re a better person than me.
They’re gonna be fine because it’s her necklace that’s actually been blowing shit up. (Oh, never mind, I'm wrong.)
That is a horrible name for a monster.
How do they confirm that? And if they can confirm that people aren’t deathlings, then why can’t people leave the city?
That is the Amazing Race.
I will say the tasks of the competition have very good pacing.
Lol, obviously the arson was a hit to keep them from revealing the syndicate’s secrets.
Oh my god, the powdered sugar sin, but I like it every timeeeee.
Lol but not lol at the Covid commentary.
Sometimes the YA humor in this is spot on and sometimes it’s so cringe.
Oh, I didn’t want Noelle to die.
Oh, is she going to turn into a deathling? I kind of like that if she doesn’t have to die and that’s how it’s revealed that the deathlings are actually people. (Wrong again, Sam.)
Honestly, I love the idea of a magical library lion. That’s so fun. This book is such a love letter to New York.
Wait, that’s so sad. I don’t want the lion to die.
Oh goddamn, I didn’t want her to die either. That’s gory for a YA.
Wow, that was a good scene. This book is really picking up. This is good YA.
Here’s the thing, I don’t believe it’s the subway token. I still think it’s her necklace. (Kinda sorta right?)
It’s a YA. Of course, she’s a chosen one.
Is this a standalone or a series because I can’t imagine us wrapping all this up in one book.
Why would the kidnappers leave two children guarding the masters? That doesn’t even kind of make sense
And there’s that cringe YA humor.
Girlypop passes out every other chapter. I swear to god.
Oh good lord, this is plot hole-y.
Guys, I still don’t believe they’re dead because they keep talking about how they’re dead, so I’m like they’re not actually dead. And I’m gonna look like an idiot when they are dead, but my dumb little brain is like they’re alive.
The book: there’s no denying it. Sam: I’m denying it. (ASK ME IN BOOK TWO DAMMIT)
I love being right.
Oh, that’s a cute little moral lesson for a YA.
Bitch, Google Translate. Oh lol, never mind.
I hate that I like that line, but again, good YA humor.
I genuinely didn’t see her boyfriend not drugging her.
This other night thing is like definitely her not-sister.
Well, she’s not a human, you idiot.
And bad YA humor again.
Also, how old is the phantom that she can have a crush on him and like the audience isn’t supposed to be grossed out by it?
There are a lot of choices in this book that don’t quite make sense and that are kinda dumb. An editor should have told this author to rein it in and pick a genre, pick a lane. But I’m having so much fun that I can’t see not rating this four stars.
Yep, it's her sister. Have I mentioned that I love being right? (Only once or twice.)
I like how she had to clarify that New Yorkers are humans.
This would make a fun video game.
That’s a nutty after-school special message, but that better not be the actual methodology behind it because that’s fucking dumb.
Girl, you got bright red hair. It’s not like you blend in.
Have we just forgotten about her being drugged?
Hunger Games and Night at the Museum had a baby.
Is this a Remy the rat joke because get out.
I don’t like this mans. (Kieran)
Well, that’s a shitty spot to leave off on. So I wasn’t technically to be continued but not everything is solved, so you have to keep reading.
Also, shout out to this audiobook narrator. She killed it
This was fun.
Look she’s plotholey, she’s got some cringe YA humor, she’s predictable as hell, but she’s fun. This is not the best YA you will ever read. Even though I enjoyed this, I’m like damn, she needs an edit. But if you want some nostalgic, dystopian YA and you like New York, give this a try.
I get that YA is rabid for representation. This book is diverse, but it does not do it well. It reads like pandering and virtue signaling, and then it’s coupled with some body-shamey comments that really clash with the mentality behind creating diverse characters.
The romance in this could use an overhaul. I can’t believe I'm advocating for a love triangle, but I think this is genuinely one of the times where it would work and would add some delicious tension to the book. There are quite a few bits of this book that read as sapphic, but it doesn't seem like they're actually meant to. I don’t like the love interest. I don’t think they’re mature enough yet to have a healthy relationship.
It has a few pacing issues. She can write good scenes, but getting from scene to scene is where she falters.
The world-building is a bit of a shit show. It doesn’t really make sense, and you’re going to have to let it go, and suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the book.
I went into this not wanting to read it, and now I will be picking up the sequel without a shred of irony. Good job, book.
Who should read this:
Dystopian YA fans
Fourth Wing girlies
Covid commentary fans
Do I want to reread this:
No, but I’d read the next one
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins-OG YA dystopian competition series
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros-YA fantasy, enemies to lovers romance, competition, nostalgic
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas-YA fantasy romance, competition
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson-romp of a YA mystery/thriller
Garden of the Curse by Katy Rose Pool-generic YA fantasy romance, whodunnit
Guardians of Dawn: Zhara by S. Jae-Jones-aggressively YA fantasy romance where they battle demons
The Stranded by Sarah Daniels-dystopian YA, ensemble cast
This is my first time reading a Coco Ma book and it exceeded my expectation. I've been a YA reader since I can remember and there's been a lot of attempt to mix fantasy and dystopia but only fee succeeded. I want to add Coco Ma in that list.
This book reminds me of Marie Lu's Warcross, which I absolutely loved, and pair it with The Hunger Games!
Love the book, looking forward to book 2 soon.
I absolutely loved this book. The urban fantasy world that has been created in New York City in this book was so cool and interesting. I loved seeing how the city adapted to this darkness and isolation. I loved Rei and seeing her grow as a character during the book. She is such a badass heroine and stayed strong through so much. I also really loved Boba. Boba was amazing and needs to be protected at all costs. The story in this book was filled with adventure, action, laughs, and heartbreak. The ending really through me for a loop and I was reading with a mouth open in shock. I can't wait till the next book comes out to see what happens next!
In a city taken over by monsters, teens train to become hunters of these monsters... but one girl's training leads her down a darker path than she could have ever imagined. Fifteen years ago, The Vanishing happened in Manhattan, New York. The city was plunged into darkness and monsters known as Deathlings have plagued the city ever since. To defeat these monsters, people are trained to rigorously fight and kill them and they must compete and win the Tournament to make it amongst the ranks of the prestigious Deathling Hunters. Rei Reynolds has dreamed all her life of becoming a hunter, she's been hunting illegally outside of school hours, but her skills have not gone unnoticed. When the tournament comes around she finds herself face to face with her ex, Kieran Cross, a skilled rival and the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart out of nowhere. Rei's parents were murdered and she's been living with her aunt, a Master of the prestigious school that is involved in the Tournament... and the person who has hired Kieran to be her new assistant. As the tournament progresses Rei finds herself questioning everyone and everything she's every known as the secret of the Deathlings and how they came to be and what exactly is happening to the city begins to cause her to unravel. Who can she trust? Can she trust the system that she thought was meant to protect her or will the secrets of those in power cause her to break free? Will she finally find out Kieran's secrets and why he is so determined to protect her but why he broke her heart? This is the first book in a series and it gives off Hunger Games x Maze Runner vibes. The story is a urban fantasy that involves teens joining a deadly competition to fight against monsters while there is a group of higherups who run society watching them. The book has a pretty slow start and doesn't pick up until the 40% mark and I honestly didn't care much for the second chance romance between Kieran and Rei. The world building is really interesting and I am intrigued by the monsters/society structure that the story has going on. I liked the tournament aspect but I felt like a lot of the characters could have been fleshed out better because not a lot of them were all that memorable. I am curious to see where the next book goes and how the story progresses for Rei after the events of this book. Overall if you like urban fantasy novels with young adult tournaments and monster survival fights, definitely give this a go!
*Thanks Netgalley and PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Young Readers Group, Viking Books for Young Readers for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
”You took all of your broken pieces and made them your weapons.”
This book. It completely snuck up on me in the best way possible, in the way books used to before I became a jaded reviewer. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I used to pick out random books at the library that I’d never heard of (because no social media and no internet access at my house), would take them home, and binge them in a day or two while cooped up in my room over the weekend. The kind of book I’d rush to my librarian aunt who was a “cool adult” who still read MG and YA books and genuinely enjoys them so we could chat about it. I can’t quite describe the giddy nature I felt while reading this, but it made me feel like a kid again finding a new series to obsess over. Yes, some of it was formulaic and predictable, but the fact that even though these two aspects are true and it STILL is a knock out page turner full of suspense, action, and excitement tells me it is well written regardless.
”Kill without remorse. Live without regret.”
I don’t even want to recap the synopsis or plot because it’s really better if you can just jump right in and ride along with the characters, but if I had to compare this to other books I would say it appeals to fans of The Hunger Games and Warcross. Yes, the plot is different than those two books and yes, I do realize that making this comparison might set some readers expectations in a lofty place right off the bat, but if we’re comparing vibes and styles of plot, that’s the best I can do. Nightbreaker stands squarely on its own two feet though, and you should definitely read it for what it is-an action packed urban fantasy full of monsters, danger, unique world building, and even a little bit of second chance romance. Obviously this one ends as a set up for book 2, but I am THRILLED that the author didn’t do us dirty with a cliff that ends in the middle of a scene that has me reeling so violently I want to scream. I’m eager to continue the series, but we do get many answers to the questions plaguing this installment.
I know that the cover isn’t cool in the mainstream marketing way of flowers and swords that are uber popular right now (I do really dig this cover though), but if you’ll give it a chance, I think those looking for a fantasy to get lost in that is both well plotted in pacing and character development, do yourself a favor and give Nightbreaker a try. I loved this so much that I bought myself a finished copy for my favorites shelf, and you’d better believe it’ll be in my top 5 books of the year.
”…the people who always told you to rise above the rest will never be the ones to warn you how far you might fall.”
Don’t judge this book by its cover! It is a fun, fast paced book with a tournament, a (not really) puppy, and monsters who like sweets. I loved the New York City setting and hearing some of the ways it had changed. The dialogue is a bit rough in some patches, but I still was able to have a great time. If you are a fan of competition type post apocalyptic paranormal books, I would give this one a try.
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.