Burning Midnight

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Burning Midnight Book Poster Image
Sci-fi scavenger hunt tale has lots of action, suspense.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Imparts lessons about perseverance and learning to trust others.

Positive Messages

Learning to trust others can be difficult, but sometimes you have to take a leap of faith in friends and family. Problems can often be solved by working together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

David Sullivan tries to treat his customers fairly, not promising more than he can deliver and offering realistic prices when buying or selling spheres. Unfortunately, others take advantage of him. He gradually develops the street smarts to protect himself and his investments.


Most of the book has a low level of violence: some rough manhandling by bodyguards, and a shoot-out in a hotel room. In the final third of the story, however, humankind faces an alien threat in which people are captured and sometimes killed. Graphic details are not provided in violent scenes.


Sully is attracted to Hunter from the start, but they mostly only flirt. They eventually share some passionate kisses.


Fairly frequent: "hell" and "damn." One or two times each: "s--t," "bastard," "a--hole," and "bulls--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink eggnog laced with vodka while Christmas caroling.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Burning Midnight is a science-fiction thriller by Will McIntosh, about a global scavenger hunt to locate mysterious multicolored spheres that amplify human talents. For the first two-thirds of the book, the level of violence is low (some rough manhandling by some bodyguards and a shoot-out in a hotel room), but a massive plot twist ramps it up at the end, with some deaths but no graphic details. Strong language includes more than a dozen uses of "hell" and "damn," plus a sprinkling of "s--t," "a--hole," and "bastard." Sully and Hunter flirt and eventually share some passionate kisses, but there is little sexual content.

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What's the story?

Seventeen-year-old David Sullivan works at a local flea market, buying and selling the brilliantly colored spheres that have become worldwide sensations. No one knows where they came from, but the spheres amplify the physical abilities of those people lucky enough to find a pair and "burn" them. When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a knack for finding hidden spheres, they team up and start a quest for fame and fortune, battling long odds and the schemes of a high-powered rival who will stop at nothing to win.

Is it any good?

Although it seems to ignore some of the implications of its central premise, this novel about a global hunt for mysterious, colored spheres has plenty of action and suspense. Sully, Hunter, and Dom are engaging characters, and their schemes to find and sell spheres are recounted with wit and verve.

What's a little disappointing about BURNING MIDNIGHT is that no one seems to wonder much about who or what created the spheres. It's an event that would reshape global economies, but author Will McIntosh seems unwilling to grapple with that level of world-building complexity. Burning Midnight is definitely a contender for the attention of science-fiction fans, but a bit more depth could have made it a champ.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why superheroes are so popular in a variety of media. Why do readers like stories about people with superpowers?

  • What are good ways to build trust with someone you don't know well?

  • Would you be able to commit to a long series of unpleasant tasks if you knew the final reward would be great? What if there was no guarantee of success?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and thrillers

Themes & Topics

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