Feeling alive is always worth the risk.
Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco’s night bus—turns Beatrix’s world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive…and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists.
But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.
First of all, I just need a moment to be a bit shallow and gush on how much I love this book cover. I saw it in Waterstones and I was drawn to the beautiful embossed gold typography and in the background you can see the map of San Francisco outlined in gold also! It is a very well designed cover. First thing I did was scanned it into Goodreads because I needed to know if it’s any good because a pretty cover does not necessarily mean a good book (in my experience). A lot of people seemed to like it, so I had to check it out myself and here I am!
If you are from the U.S the title for Night Owls is actually called The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart. I have no idea why. I recommend getting the UK edition.
Night Owls is set in San Francisco during the Summer and not in High School. It is about a seventeen year old girl called Beatrix, aka Bex. It’s really late one night and thus has no choice but to take the dreaded night bus, called the Owl. On the bus, she meets a mysterious boy called Jack, who she later realises he could possibly be San Francisco’s most wanted graffiti artist. She’s curious and wants to find out more about him.
Bex’s ambition in life is to become an anatomy medical illustrator. It’s both interesting and somewhat unusual that she enjoys drawing cadavers. It’s morbid drawing dead people. She knows what she wants to do with her life and is a very determined person. There’s this art competition to win a Scholarship, which she is very determined to win because she can’t afford to go to college on her own, as her dad walked out when she was little. Her mum can just about manage to support Bex and her brother Heath.
I liked Jack. He’s very charming and witty. He was a bit of a mystery at first because there wasn’t much I knew about him, other than he likes going around San Francisco graffiti-ing certain words in gold spray. We find out later on that he’s into Buddhism and philosophy, which is interesting. There was a lot more to him, than just being ‘Jack the Vandal.’ I can’t go into too much detail because of spoilers but he has a lot of problems that he deals with, family-wise.
“Crap. He was definitely checking me out. What should I do? Earth to Beatrix: This is the night bus, not a Journey song. Two strangers were not a midnight train going anywhere.”
The banter and snark between Bex and Jack was so so fun to read about it! This was my favourite parts of the book. It was so funny and cute and it had me actually smiling like an idiot. They have an instant chemistry and connection. The romance feels like a real teenaged relationship, you know what I mean? It was kind of a bit insta-lovey at the end but since I enjoyed reading about their relationship, I’ll let it pass. Bex and Jack are both very different people from different backgrounds but one thing they both have in common was art.
I liked that it involves a lot of family in it. Most of the time, they’re always overlooked and not playing a huge role in the main character’s life. But in Night Owls, the parents are there, taking an interest, particularly Bex’s mum, who is called Katherine the Great – I just love that title for her. She has been strict on Bex when she finds out that Bex has been lying to her. It was really interesting to learn more about Jack’s family and his ‘lady friend’ from the hospital.
“Just promise me one thing,” he continued. “If it’s not good, tell me. Don’t just get angry and resent me. I’d rather us not do anything and keep what we have now than screw things up between us. Okay?”
Another thing is that there is a real discussion of sex. It feels like this is the only YA book I’ve read that really talks about it in a positive way. Most of the time, it’s usually not spoken about. Maybe because its YA, you have to draw the line somewhere, you don’t want the young’uns reading about it yet because it’s usually reserved for NA.
Overall, it is a 3.5ish star from me. It is a special kind of story. I really liked it and I would definitely recommend if you’re looking to read a realistic contemporary. This book is very centred on art and creativity and I love that, because I love art and design. It was so nice and refreshing to read about a character who loves to draw as much as I do! There’s also banter on different types of pencils lol. I love me a good 2B pencil by Staedtler, but at the moment my mechanical pencil is my go-to pencil 🙂