Midnight at the Electric

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Midnight at the Electric Book Poster Image
Riveting blend of past and future explores love, choice.

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age 13+
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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Lots of insight into and facts about life in the Midwest during the Dust Bowl/Depression years. Some insight into life in England after World War I. Brief explanation of neutrinos.

Positive Messages

Love is what's passed on from one generation to the next. The biggest problem with people is not that they have bad intentions, but that they're just too self-absorbed, bumbling along with their own lives, to really pay attention to the bigger picture. So pay attention, and do it right. Freeing yourself to pursue your own happiness can be so painful that a lot of people never do it, but you'll be able to figure things out if you just give it some time. You have to try to save yourself; nothing and no one will do it for you. One small event that might not even seem important can spark a whole, huge life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adri isn't very likeable; she's blunt and closed off emotionally. But she's a great example of achieving your goals through hard work and self-discipline. Catherine needs life to move forward and makes a painful sacrifice to make that happen for herself. She also takes a huge risk and is willing to do whatever it takes to save her little sister. Lenore is kind, willing to help a stranger, and called bossy when she thinks she's being strong. She bravely makes a huge, scary change in her life so that she can be with her best friend again.


A beloved pet dies, and a teen sees her mother cut it open so that they can know what it died of; brief mention of muck pouring out of the cut. People, farms, and animals in peril from severe dust storms, brief mention of stinging eyes and throats from the dust particles. Reports of children dying from "dust pneumonia." Someone throws rocks at a tortoise.


A teen couple kiss and caress a lot, but it's not described. Once they kiss under covers in bed. A teen imagines kissing someone, also not described. Mention that young people (older teens to early 20s) are chosen to go to Mars because they're likely to marry and produce offspring.


"A--hole," "crap," "poop," "piss," and middle-finger gesture.


Rare:  Band-Aid, Maybelline, Ivory soap, Kevlar, Lucky Strike.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Older teens of legal age in 1920s England drink wine with a couple of meals, one mention of getting a little drunk. Elderly ladies playing cards offer an 18-year-old a "beergarita." Smoking cigars mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Midnight at the Electric, by Jodi Lynn Anderson (The Vanishing Season), follows three young women from World War I to the year 2065 at important turning points in their lives. Prominent themes are connections between one generation and the next, love, making your own life, and being better stewards of the natural world. Negative content is rare and not described in detail but is emotionally heavy, making this novel best for older teens.  A beloved pet dies, a couple of older teens kiss a lot, including once in bed under covers, and "a--hole" is used a few times. The young female protagonists, ages 16 to 18, are good role models in different ways, but they all face their fear of the unknown to make the best lives for themselves that they can.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byHRM1104 July 16, 2018

What's the story?

In MIDNIGHT AT THE ELECTRIC, 18-year-old Adri is one of the lucky few chosen to join the colony on Mars. While she's in training she's staying with a distant cousin, 107-year-old Lily, who lives on a family farm just outside of Wichita, Kansas. Tucked behind some old books in the farmhouse, Adri discovers the journal of Catherine, who lived on the farm during the Dust Bowl. As Adri delves deeper and deeper into the past, she discovers surprising connections between Catherine, Lily, a young woman in England during World War I, herself, the past, and the future. As launch day quickly approaches, Adri becomes fixated on learning what became of Catherine and Lenore. Why does she care about these people from the past? And will finding answers give her the courage she needs to leave Earth forever?

Is it any good?

Author Jodi Lynn Anderson's compelling blend of science fiction with historical fiction is beautifully written and gracefully constructed. Midnight at the Electric draws readers in with colorful, relatable characters and intriguing settings that keep the pages turning as we're drawn, right along with Adri, into discovering the little sparks that can ignite whole lives. Even a 150-year-old tortoise has a part to play.

Teens will especially relate to the three main characters, all older teens themselves, as they face tough decisions about their futures and try to find the courage to live their own lives as happily and freely as they can. Readers of all ages will find a lot of food for thought about reverberations from the past, enduring love, and how what we do here and now will have repercussions for generations yet to come. Keep a box of tissues nearby at the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Midnight at the Electric blends sci-fi with historical fiction. Did that combination work for you? Why, or why not?

  • Which of the three main characters did you like best: Adri, Catherine, or Lenore? Why? What about her did you most identify with?

  • Does life in 2065 seem realistic? How old will you be in 2065? What do you think life will be like then?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and historical fiction

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