Friday, December 12, 2008

Strange Matter #2: The Midnight Game

The second installment in the Strange Matter series is about a boy named Tyler Webb who finds a ticket to a midnight football game. The event is between two old teams from a historic Fairfield (the town where all the Strange Matter stories take place) and when Tyler arrives at the field, the players begin to unearth themselves for their unfinished business. That's right - a football game between two undead, zombie teams.

Tyler and his friend Libb, who happens to be extremely knowledgeable about football, go on to discover that the Green Devils, Fairfield's premier football team, lost the championship game when Tom Maul, the star player, botched everything in the last quarter. The team is then doomed to rise up from the grave and replay the game again and again for all eternity, unless something or someone can break the cycle.

Compared to No Substitutions, the first Strange Matter book, I thought The Midnight Game was a bit weak. The story was uninteresting and slightly confusing at times. I'm still trying to piece together all the details and I'm 23 years old! The concept was cool, but I think more could have been done in regards to story-building, maybe hanging around in certain scenes for longer. Also, there were a few glaring editorial errors. One in particular comes to mind in the second chapter. An entire paragraph is more or less repeated within the same page, looking like some text was moved around, but the original text wasn't deleted after the change was made. Yikes! How did this sneak by?!

Additionally, there just wasn't a whole lot of character development. Now I know this stuff is for middle-grade readers, but I'm beginning to think that these books could have benefitted from another 5,000 words or so. I would have loved to see the kids' encounters with the undead football players stretched out and filled with more detail. There was a lot of missed opportunity for expansion here, most notably during the supernatural bits. I also would have liked to get to know the main characters more. They just seemed too cookie-cutter.

Overall, a below-average entry in the Strange Matter series.

I give The Midnight Game a 2.5 out of 5.

No comments: