This is a tie-in novel for the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, published after the series finished but set in early season 2 whilst Cordelia and Xander are just starting to go out.
The Sunnydale Drive-In has been closed for decades but has recently been refurbished and is going to be opened with a special all-night multiple-bill. Xander has got himself a job handing out flyers for this event, but none of his friends are interested in going. He ends up convincing Jonathan to go with him and they have a good night, but Jonathan isn’t able to stay conscious long enough to get home, and Xander ends up half-carrying him to his front door. The next morning, he won’t wake up and many other Sunnydale residents are similarly stricken.
Buffy and Angel are out on patrol when they start getting attacked by demons who won’t stay solid enough to be hit, but who can still fight them. All this has something to do with the mysterious and charismatic new owner of the Drive-In, Mr Balsamo, and the Scoobies need to find out what before everyone ends up asleep.
The one thing that really annoyed me about this novel is that in it, Willow has high-speed optic fibre broadband in her house. This novel is set during season 2 of Buffy, which means it’s supposed to be taking place in 1997. Most people don’t have that kind of broadband now, over ten years later! In 1997 you got mediocre dial-up or nothing.
Technological anachronisms aside, this was an okay read, enjoyable but nothing special and although the concept was pretty original, there just weren’t the twists and turns that you get in a really good plot. The final fight scene seemed too short. Giles and Buffy both kept telling Willow not to use magic when she suggested she could try using magic for something, which makes sense in season 6 and 7 but not in season 2. However, the characters were pretty well depicted, particularly Xander, he’s really the focus of this book which made a nice change.
I’d recommend it to Buffy fans who want a quick read but it’s not unmissable by any means, there have been better Buffy novels written and the graphic novel stories are the best non-tv material in my opinion. I probably won’t read it again. The book is quite small in size so it can fit in your bag easily, which would be good for travelling.