Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen [Review]

The Moon and More4 out of 5 Robots!

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Genre: Contemporary YA
Release: June 4, 2013
Hardcover: 435 Pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer

Shannon's Thoughts:
It pains me greatly to write this review.  I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan and have read about 85% of her books.  Dessen's wheelhouse is writing about teens when they are on the precipice of Great Change.  It is a scary and exciting time. Dessen usually captures those feelings so well with her protagonists.  She is also a master of The Tricky Family Situation, especially where parents are concerned.  She writes about good parents, bad parents, absentee parents, deceased parents, step parents, stand in parents... you name it.  Her families are never cut and dry, much like real life.  And it is really remarkable that she can come up with so many individual stories that feel different each time.  So, of course, I was very excited when I heard she was publishing a new book!

So why does it pain me to write this review?  Well, I couldn't help but feel a little underwhelmed by this time around.  Dessen's strength lies in her characters but I had a hard time connecting to the characters in this book.  I found Emaline to be kind of bratty.  She is constantly butting heads with everyone and getting into arguments.  But I also found her kind of flat.  Her mother mentions at one point that Emaline has changed a lot over the summer, but I didn't really see any of that.  I thought she was basically the same at the beginning as she was at the end.  The supporting characters were also kind of one note.  First of all, there is a lot of them, so it is hard to spend a lot of time character building.  And the few characters that are more fleshed out end up changing so quickly that it felt disingenuous to their character.  One is seemly sweet and caring, but ends up condescending and selfish and spoiled within a matter of just a few pages.  Another one is demanding, selfish and pissy throughout most of the book but then ends up being a huge supporter of Emaline in just the last 50 pages.

Which brings me to the other problem I had with this book.  There was a real lack of resolution for several of the storylines.  We never really get to see much resolution between Emaline and her father.  Or Emaline and Theo.  Or Emaline and her mother.  Or Emaline and her sister.   I thought there were some really rich storylines to explore.  I was especially interested in Emaline and her father, but there wasn't as much time devoted to it as I would have liked.

While I was still disappointed, I should note that this review is really a comparison to her other books. Dessen is an extremely competent writer and this book is no exception, which is why it still gets 4 stars.  But when compared to some of her previous works, it was missing that spark and liveliness of her other books.  I will still read any Dessen book that comes out and this book made me no less of a fan.  But if you have never read Dessen before and/or didn't love this book, do me a favor and go back and read her previous books.  You won't be disappointed!

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