Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

So, in September me and my honeyman decided to read 1 book together a month. In September we read The Hunger Games (a re-read for me, but the first time for him) and he really liked it. This month the honeyman picked Night Watch, which is one of his favorite books but a first for me.

So basically Night Watch focuses on Anton, a member of the Night Watch in Russia. The Night Watch is made up of Others that work for the Light – so they’re the goodies. There’s also the group of Others that are the baddies, and they serve on the Day Watch. Basically an “Other” is a person with some sort of paranormal ability that is able to step into the “Twilight”, kind of step into the shadows of the world and see the world through a different magical perspective. The Light and Dark Others have been battling out the whole good versus evil thing for centuries until they were faced with extinction and henceforth the Treaty was formed, forming the Watches so that each side could police the other until one side finds a huge advantage that may finally bring about triumph over the other. This was all very confusing to me at first, but I have to say that Sergei Lukyanenko does a really great job at making as clear as possible within the first hundred pages.

So Anton is a member of the Night Watch, although his main job is pretty much desk work – just like any policing force, someone has to stay in the building and do paperwork and technological stuff. Eventually though his boss tries to make better use of him and brings him out for some field work – protecting humans, coming up against the Day Watch, etc. Anton is a bit of an anti-hero in that he seems to have so much potential but he really was happier just being a desk person. He also suffers from having too much of a conscience. I initially enjoyed the philosophy of the big good versus evil thing. But Anton quickly sees how his side can commit a lot of evil acts in the name of Good, and struggles with this throughout the whole novel and being the horrible person that I am, I got bored with that after a while. I mean, it’s kind of obvious that no group can be 100% pure good and the other 100% pure evil. Good people will commit evil acts in the name of good, and evil people will do good things in the name of evil. I’m not going to lie – if I was an Other, I probably would have joined the dark side and become a member of the Day Watch, because it’s just easier.

Anyways, I’m starting to ramble. So the book is split into three separate stories, each revolving around Anton and his role in the Night Watch, and each centered around a plot for good or evil to gain a bit of an advantage. And while I did end up enjoying each story, I wish that the book hadn’t been split up like that. I think the novel might have been more powerful if the story was more cohesive and if the author had made more of an effort in blending it all together. However, this was initially written in Russian, so maybe something got kind of lost in the translation to English.

So, overall I liked this book. I liked the Russian setting. (And I realized how much I love Russian names: Svetlana, Sergei, Anton. Plus the awesome last names – Donnikova, Nesterov, etc.) And I do enjoy the overall debates about whether to be a force for good or evil. You’d think the choice should be obvious, but there are arguments for both sides, and that’s why they’ll probably both always exist. While I thought Anton was a weak main character, I did enjoy the rest of the cast and wish I had seen more of them. It’s definitely a new and really interesting twist in the fantasy genre. While I think Sergei creates a unique world and complex plot ideas, I think this book also seems a little amateur – things don’t flow very smoothly, concepts are repetitive, etc.

I will probably read the next novel in the series some day, Day Watch, because it focuses on a member of the Day Watch and I think it’d be interesting to see all of this from the point of view of the baddies. I’d recommend this for fantasy fans, or for readers that love a good ol’ philosophical light versus darkness story.

Sarah Says: 3.5 stars

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One comment

  1. I like the premise and a different take on the paranormal of this book. The clash between good and evil is always current, and you’re absolutely right, there is no 100% good or 100% evil. Great review!

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