Title: Five Midnights
Author: Ann Dávila Cardinal
Genre: YA Horror
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Setting: Puerto Rico
Death, Drug Abuse, Violence, Microaggressions
Gosh I’ve been trying to catch up with reviews still and I’m slowly making progress! Yes, I’m pretty sure I said this already but I gotta keep pointing it out so I can keep going!
I got to read this book as a buddy read for the Con Sabor Reading Challenge, and I’m curious to see if we are going to end up doing a live show on it, because THAT would be a… oh wait EDIT. Apparently there WAS a live show and I just missed it apparently??
I had a lot of feelings about this book and I think I’m still in the middle about this one.
This is one of my first YA Horror books that I’ve read and I definitely feel like this book freaked me the hell out! The story about el Cuco was new to me, and I still need to actually still do some research on more of the lore and story but I felt like this book really gave me some horror vibes that I liked. Wow, it’s only been way too long since I thought about this book so this review is definitely going to be way shorter than other ones. I’ll just share my thoughts that I can still remember, as I know that there are other reviews out there that can explain it way better than me. And I also have an idea that some Puerto Rican reviewers felt completely different non-Puerto Rican reviewers, so there’s that too.
don’t underestimate the power of faith…
When you read this one, and you understand why and how El Cuco came to be during the events of this novel, I think you will understand what I mean by that. It also reminds me of some books that deal with physic-defying things like jumping super high, or whatever. One of the quotes that the master would say to their apprentice is that if they believe that they can do it, then they can do it. If they believe that gravity is not there, then it won’t be there. This would then allow said person to be able to use gravity to their advantage and move in ways that we would not be able to do in our world.
So thinking about those quotes and then seeing how things ended up happening during this novel, that’s exactly what it reminded me of. It also makes me think about what else would manifest itself in the real world if enough people believed in it. That would be interesting to find out… hopefully it’s not something monstrous or anything like that, but you never know with people this day and age.
being away from your culture can make you feel like an outsider to others that are fully immersed in that culture
One of the things that did hurt me while reading this was how everyone that Lupe encountered while she was in Puerto Rico would comment on how she’s so white, and would question whether she was really Puerto Rican. But in saying that, I know that this isn’t the true reflection of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans when it comes to white passing gringos, and Wilmarie does an amazing job explaining that here:
“Yes, many independentista blame gringos for the gentrification that’s going on but I studied in a university where most people were independentista and I can tell you that they don’t hate gringos. They just believe in the separation of Puerto Rico from the United States of America aka the independence of Puerto Rico. Actually, a lot of their leaders did their postgraduate studies in the mainland.”Wink Wilmarie
Wilmarie actually goes on to explain a lot more of why this book is harmful to Puerto Rican readers and is worth you reading her full post. She articulates the points efficiently and in a way that makes everyone understand why – as a Puerto Rican reader – this book didn’t hit the mark whatsoever.
I’m pretty sure my point about the theme was going to go into not beating yourself up for not being completely immersed in your culture just because you aren’t physically living in said country or native place, but then Wilmarie’s point was more important than mine, I feel.
It’s no surprise that a lot of people didn’t like Lupe, which kind of sucks because she is one of the main characters. If not THE main character, although I would also consider Javier as another one. Anyway, for someone who may not be Latinx, but who has similar concepts of elder respect ingrained in her since childhood, it honestly shocked me that Lupe was that disrespectful to a lot of the adults in her life, and that they accepted that.
And… yeah I guess that’s all I’m really going to say on that because I’m still kind of reeling about that and I’m still super shocked at that part. It just threw me off for most of the book and made me really, really not want to deal with Lupe at all.
Yeah, again I’m still really, really shocked at that. To the point that I feel like that’s the only part that resonated with me months after reading this novel. I know the story of El Cuco freaked me out in the best way, and I’m curious to know if there’s anything similar to El Cuco in the Chamorro culture, but that’s research for another day.
I didn’t find anything inherently “wrong” or not appealing as far as the writing style goes. I thought it matched well for the pacing of the story and the plot. It gave me super freaky vibes when it needed to. It made my heart pump with adrenaline when it needed to. I thought it was done efficiently.
I had a 3.5 rating when I read it, which had to round up to 4 stars on Goodreads. I really wish that they would add half stars because usually 4 star reads are almost perfect to me, and this wasn’t at that level. I may change my rating on Goodreads because I feel like it’s inaccurate. However, I feel like you should really look at the other reviews on Goodreads for a better understanding as to why this book wasn’t great for them, and the issues that it had that resonated with other readers.