Minutes Before Sunset follows Eric Welborn, a Shade who is destined to fight a battle with the Light when he turns eighteen. It’s down to him to save the Dark, his friends and family, and potentially die in the process. Eric keeps himself to himself, away from everyone around him, until he meets a mysterious Shade by the river who turns out to be more powerful even than him.
Alongside Eric’s story, we learn about Jessica Taylor who, upon moving to Hayworth, is determined to find out about her biological family. But the only way to do that is to get perfect grades, and when she’s paired with Eric, she realises that might be harder than it seems.
Right from the start, the whole concept is interesting and unique. We have the Dark, which is shown to be the good guys, and the Light, which are the bad guys. Not to say they’re all wholly good, and we don’t really get a good glimpse into the Light, but it’s a nice change from the typical light and dark sides. On top of that, even though the main focus is Eric, he’s not the strongest character. Even if he is the one set out to save his race. Instead, the strongest roles are the girls – namely, the mysterious Shade and Eric’s friend and guard Camille/Teresa. Camille is half-Light and half-Dark, as are a few others in both sides of the war. It’s one of those things that you sort of wish could be explored more, with the whole complications that must come from a pairing like that, but one that doesn’t really fit into the story. (Not a criticism, but I love dwelling on things like that and what they could mean in the wider world of novels)
Camille has abilities from both sides and, as such, is able to do things Eric can’t, and able to withstand the power of the Light, which does come in handy at times.
Even though the book focuses on Jessica’s and Eric’s POVs, we still get insights into those around them. We get glimpses of what everyone else is going through, as Camille and Eric’s father try to protect him, as Jessica’s new friends try to drag her to prom and dress shopping. None of the characters are ‘just there’; they all serve a function, all have their own roles in the novel. And the contrast between what Eric and Jessica are going through and what they’re like in high school works well, as both hide their own secrets – Eric hiding his life as a shade, and Jessica dealing with trying to find any trace of her biological family.
The novel draws you in and makes you really care for those involved, and even if some of the twists are a little obvious, the impact of them on the characters still work really well. It’s a novel I really enjoyed reading, and I would strongly recommend it if you’re looking for a decent young adult read.
I’m always looking for new stuff to read, so if you have something you’d think I’d enjoy – whether it’s your novel or someone else’s – just let me know.