Analysis of Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal (ch 5)

Buy Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there–murderer, or monster?

This is a craft analysis of Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal. I will be analyzing this book over the next few weeks. I will analyze the first 5-10 chapters, looking for craft issues and then review the book as a whole as a reader.

“And that guy, who the h–who did he think he was, stepping in like I can’t defend myself?”

Her uncle chuckled at this. “Yes, that wasn’t wise on his part. But many boys here are raised to protect girls, though I think that tradition is starting to fade away.”

Lupe folded her arms across her chest and stared at the ground. Yet another thing she didn’t understand. It didn’t help that she couldn’t stop seeing the boy’s face, the deep brown of his eyes. That only made her angrier at herself. “Clearly he’s never met a feminist.”

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

A lot of the cursing gets censored by teens in their dialogue around adults. It was cute and on point the first time it happened, but now it’s old and feels like reaching down to the audience. We all know teens curse (yes, they do, don’t even fight this). But the rate at which these teens catch themselves and stop mid word is distracting to read.

Then we have the local boy’s (Javier’s) protectiveness and how boys are taught to protect girls, which Lupe claims to not understand. What’s not to understand? That’s a fairly universal thing to teach to young boys. Particularly in the US, where Lupe is from.

“Tio, I want to see Izzy, but he’s not answering my texts.”

Esteban paused, took a sip of his sode, then looked at the surface of the pool. At the setting sun. Anywhere but at her. “Just keep trying, sobrina.” Still no eye contact.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

We already know Izzy is missing, but why would the adults keep this a mystery? In YA, we see adults gatekeep to an extreme like this often and it’s a fad that’s on its way out. There was just a gruesome murder in town. If Izzy is missing, the adults would be worried. If Izzy is somewhere safe, the adults would say where he is (I’m suspecting rehab or something).

If only he knew. A bunch of “acquaintances” who thought her bizarre, a father who had checked out, and a school that hadn’t challenged her since the second grade.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

I want to look at the voice here because it pulled me back from the story a bit. “Who thought her bizarre” is specifically the line that felt too adult. This comes down to how a teen would express this situation. Teens would say “they think I’m weird,” the third person version “who thought was was weird.”

A lot of people will say to cut words all adverbs out of your work, but the natural flow of our every day dialogue is filled with them. You should give careful consideration to the ones you want to cut, making sure they won’t disturb the voice of your work.

“Do you have any leads?” Talking to him was the only time she got to try out the language she learned from DOA Newark.

Lupe’s obsession with this specific crime show makes her feel younger than 16. At 16, she’d love the show but she’d be looking into careers and colleges and focusing on how she could become a detective. She sounds more interested in sounding like a character from the show than she does about police work.

Also, her uncle is very forthcoming with details about his cases. I’m surprised he’s keeping Izzy’s whereabouts a secret but doesn’t seem to mind explaining the gorey details of how a boy was murdered.

Maria threw her hands up. “Great. Such an appropriate and interesting subject for a fifteen–“

“Sixteen!”

“–a sixteen-year-old young woman.”

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

This is actually a great cut off for the dialogue. What sixteen year old do you know who doesn’t let the world know that they’re sixteen now? And kids, tweens, and teens, all correct people about their age. They wear each year like a badge of honor.

“She said something about how if Izzy didn’t behave, he’ll come for him, too.”

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Another mysterious statement about the elusive him. Again, without some context about who or what he could be, this falls flat. We’re five chapters in, we should be getting something more than a pronoun.

A lot of writers do this to add suspense to the story, but I’ve always found it incredibly aggravating. I’m an impatient reader so I want to be rewarded with each chapter. This particular chapter felt like another slice of life and didn’t really move the story forward for me.

We already knew that Izzy was missing, it wasn’t confirmed where he went. We already had nothing to go on for the monster or whoever the old lady was talking about, and we didn’t get any information on that front either.

Unlike Adult fiction, YA and MG literature needs to keep the action going. I would have liked to have at least overheard some information that helps answer the readers’ questions about what’s going.

Buy Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there–murderer, or monster?

Originally posted on July 2, 2021 @ 12:00 pm

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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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