Teenagers hate being different from their peers in any way. Allie, Rob and Juliet are very different, isolated from their peers by Xeroderma Pigmentosum, an extreme allergy to sunlight, they must live their lives at night, as a tightly-knit and exclusive group. Juliet’s sudden fascination with Parkour results in Rob and Allie taking up the sport to ensure she is protected. It gives them the exhilaration so often missing from their lives but it also takes them very close to danger and not just because of the nature of Parkour, but because they witness through an apartment window what they are sure is a murder.
When they realise that the murderer has seen them, too, a new, terrifying game of cat and mouse begins. The dynamics of their tiny group begin to change as Allie and Rob fall in love. This drives Juliet to new excesses in Parkour and a tragic confrontation with the murderer. This book is densely plotted and rich in descriptive detail. Mitchard reaches for the poetic and often achieves it. Her knowledge and understanding of the insecurities of the teenage mind is comprehensive and convincing and the shifting loyalties within the friendship group are minutely and believable described.
The narrative is seeded with twists and turns and the enduring conviction that no-one is quite what they seem. Mitchard’s control is masterly – she carefully leads the reader up a path which will often seem to be a dead-end but which unfolds a new secret, a fresh threat, a greater pain.
Mitchard’s study of outsiders is illuminating – she makes the case for sufferers of Xeroderma Pigmentosum, bringing their short lives lived away from others sharply into the spotlight. She explores the tolerance of illegality in what they do when they live their lives during the hours of darkness and the sense of despair about prospects for the future. But, most of all, she writes an engaging and fast-paced thriller which holds the reader tightly in its grasp from first to last.