Book Review: Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: 2nd November 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: YA, teenage, Christmas, Short Stories

The latest offering from Rainbow Rowell combines two magical short stories. First up is Midnight which follows two best friends, Mags and Noel, every New Years Eve over a period of three years. Flamboyant and outgoing, Noel couldn't be more different from Mags...And year after year Mags has to endure Noel kissing someone else as the clock strikes twelve every December 31st, when secretly she wishes that she was the one he was kissing. Will Noel be able to finally discover his true feelings for Mags this New Years Eve?
Kindred Spirits tells the story of Star Wars fantastic, Evie, who decides she is going to join her fellow 'Rebel Legions' in queing up outside the theatre for four days in a bid to watch the new film first.
However, when she arrives at the theatre armed with enough layers and supplies to see her through four days living on the streets in December and with her Mum's disappointment and concern still ringing in her ears, she is dismayed to discover that the queue is only made up of two other people. Troy, a walking encyclopedia of Star Wars, and Gabe, a quiet a mysterious teenager. Where is the comradery? Where is the swapping of Star Wars anecdotes and bonding sessions? Where is the fun? This looks set to be a long four days...
But as Evie gets to know her weird and wonderful queue companions, it turns out that this whole experience might turn out to be more fun than she first thought, albeit in an entirely different way.

First things first; the cover of Almost Midnight is Christmas in book form. Blue, sparkly and glittery, this is a book that is so aesthetically pleasing it's untrue. It would look good on any bookshelf and there's not many book lovers that wouldn't be delighted to find this book in their stocking. Also, it's by Rainbow Rowell. This alone makes me immediately want it.
The illustrations are beautiful and add a cozy feel to the book. As well as being a great addition to the stories they also really helped to bring the characters to life and it's always interesting to see as to whether the picture you build up in your head of the characters is the same as how the illustrator sees them.

In bad book blogger style, I hadn't done my research into this book and when I began reading Midnight I immediately recognised it. Where had I read it before? Turns out if was featured in Christmas anthology My True Love Gave to Me back in 2014. Whilst it clearly states this on Amazon, me being me, I was in such a rush to dive into this book that this fact went completely over my head. Whoops. I was a little disappointed when I found this out as I was looking forward to getting stuck into two new Rainbow Rowell stories (if you're anything like me then I also need to warn you that Kindred Spirits has also been published before as a World Book Day title, but luckily I hadn't read this yet so it was technically still a new story to me...)
I re-read Midnight because I enjoyed it the first time round and I probably ended up enjoying it more the second time round.
Noel and Mags were intriguing characters by both being so very different, yet they shared a wonderful friendship and I desperately wanted it to become more.
Midnight was a delightful, sweet and heart-warming story that made me smile.

I think that Kindred Spirits was my favourite of the two stories. Although not Christmassy (it was set in December but that's about as far as it goes) I still loved it. I warmed to Evie, something which isn't always in instant thing in short stories, but I still felt as though I got to know her. I loved her determination, despite the whole 'queue experience' not turning out the way she had envisaged, she still stuck it out and went on to embrace it (despite having to pee in paper cups - many times.) I loved the relationship she eventually developed with Gabe and I thought Troy was a wonderful character. Hilarious, likeable and a complete Star Wars buff - what's not to love?

Both stories were enjoyable and definitely worth a read, especially if you're a Rainbow Rowell fan - but just beware that you may have come across them before. If you're busy over the festive season then I highly recommend this - it's light, perfect to dip in and out of and it will certainly give you that warm, cozy feel that should be a requirement during this time of the year.

It's not as mega-Christmassy as a Christmas fanatic such a myself would have hoped for, but that doesn't detract from its enjoy-ability. It's a very clever idea to put these two stories together and market them as a Christmas book, so if you've never had the chance to read these two delightful tales from Rainbow then now is the perfect time...

*Library copy reviewed 

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