Series: Radio Hearts #2
Published by Bloomsbury Spark on June 28, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humor
Format: ARC, Kindle Edition
Source: Review Copy
"Happy midnight, my fellow Niteowls..."
As a candy store employee by day, and mysterious deejay "Niteowl" by night, eighteen-year-old Ingrid North is stuck between rock 'n roll and a hard place. She can't wait to get out of her tiny hometown of Steadfast, Nebraska (population three hundred and forty-seven) to chase her dreams, but small-town troubles keep getting in the way. She can't abandon her grandmother with Alzheimer's, or her best friend Micah--who she may or may not be in love with.
But for one hour each Saturday, she escapes all of that. On air, she isn't timid, ugly-sweater-wearing Ingrid North. She's the funny and daring Niteowl. Every boy's manic pixie dream girl. Fearless. And there is one caller in particular-- Dark and Brooding--whose raspy laugh and snarky humor is just sexy enough to take her mind off Micah. Not that she's in love with Micah or anything. Cause she's not.
As her grandmother slips further away and Micah begins dating a Mean-Girls-worthy nightmare, Ingrid runs to the mysterious Dark and Brooding as a disembodied voice to lean on, only to fall down a rabbit hole of punk rockstars, tabloid headlines, and kisses that taste like bubble tea. But the man behind the voice could be surprising in all the right, and wrong, ways.
And she just might find that her real life begins when Niteowl goes off the air.
We Own the Night by Ashley Poston is the kind of feel-good YA novel that most young-at-heart readers can get behind. It’s witty, youthful, and chock full of fresh-from-high school drama. But Poston included a lot of heart in her second novel in the Radio Hearts series, and that’s what makes We Own the Night so good.
The novel follows Iggy, aka Ingrid North, aka Niteowl, a girl embarking on her summer after high school graduation – a time that should be full of possibility. But her grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, forcing her to defer her acceptance into NYU, and her best friend who she’s been pining over for years, starts dating her arch nemesis. Basically, things couldn’t get worse for Iggy.
But she has her radio show, and by extension, her frequent caller referred to as “Dark and Brooding.” They form an instant connection, and for the brief period of time that they communicate, Ingrid’s other problems in life seem to melt away. If only being Niteowl could last forever.
Ingrid is a wonderful main character for We Own the Night. She’s all sorts of funny, and I love some of the one liners she uses throughout the novel. And while she was a bit…wishy-washy for me a times, I try to remember that at 18 and fresh out of high school, I was pretty wishy-washy about life too. (Shoot, I’m 25 now and still pretty dazed and confused.) But Iggy is loyal and strong, and when her confidence shines through it’s like watching the most amazing sunrise ever. Iggy knows what she wants, she just isn’t sure how to get there.
And the obvious hold up in her life is her grandmother’s illness, which is something Poston explores in We Own the Night. Alzheimer’s is a scary disease, and as a reader you really do feel for Iggy as she watches the woman who raised her slowly lose her sense of place and time throughout the novel. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also heartwarming because you can truly feel the love Iggy has for her grandmother, and vice versa. And watching Iggy place her entire life on hold because she doesn’t want to abandon her grandmother is just as upsetting.
We Own the Night does have a great amount of side characters in the novel, and I especially love LD and Billie, two of Iggy’s best friends. They weren’t what I was expecting at all when I began reading, but I grew to love them soon enough. LD breaks stereotypes left and right – she fights, plays video games (kicks ass doing both), and, in a moment of confession between herself and Iggy, divulges that she’s made of weaknesses, like every other person. Billie, on the other hand, is the golden boy valedictorian with a full ride scholarship and a devious, goofy side that emerges as We Own the Night progresses. He’s adorable in only the way that book boys can be, and I love him for it.
What I didn’t love about We Own the Night was the relationship between Iggy and Micah. For someone who was supposed to be her “best friend,” Micah’s kind of a jerk. If my BFF ever treated me like that, our friendship would have ended long ago. I have never rooted against a romantic pairing from the very beginning as hard as I rooted against these two. And while I won’t give away the ending, I will say that the romantic sub-plot of We Own the Night was very predictable and easy to spot from the beginning.
Overall, this novel is less about the love lives of some teenagers and more about how one girl discovers what exactly it means to be home, and just where that home is. We Own the Night is a quick read that you’re bound to find enjoyment in, as long as you look at it from the right angle.