So The Moon and More is actually the first Sarah Dessen book I’ve ever read (don’t hit me!) and given all the hype I’d seen about this book and all of her previous books on other book blogs and Goodreads, I was convinced that I was in for a really great romantic read; however, I was sorely disappointed.
I was under the impression that The Moon and More was a romance but to be honest, I didn’t think that there was that much romance in it at all. This book is about Emaline and the things that happen in the summer before she heads off to college.She lives in Colby, a beach town that is flooded with tourists each summer. It’s a quiet town where everyone knows everyone, literally. Emaline has been dating Luke for 3 years already but with college looming she’s not sure how things are going to play out. Then there’s Theo. A NY documentary maker’s assistant who’s in town to badger a local artist and seems to keep bumping into Emaline. Her father (not her dad, her father, there’s a difference – as you will find out) is coming into town unexpectedly with her little brother but she hasn’t spoken to him since he emailed her telling her he would no longer be able to finance her tuition to Colombia even though he was the one pushing her to apply. Ouch. Although Colby’s a small town, Emaline’s in to have an interesting summer whilst she tries to figure out who she is before she heads off to uni and leaves her family behind.
This book had quite a morose and sullen tone to it which made it quite difficult to get into it or feel any sort of emotion other than glum-ness whilst reading it. It’s written from the first person perspective of Emaline and she just isn’t a very happy character. She’s not happy in her relationship, she has serious Daddy issues and although she says she’s fine with things like rejecting Colombia (she can’t afford the tuition fees), it really didn’t seem like she was. I really didn’t understand Emaline’s character to be honest. She didn’t seem to have a valid reason for all that teenage angst and I just couldn’t understand her thought patterns. She actually seems to have a pretty good life, apart from the crappy father, but he’s not really in her life anyway, plus she has a great adoptive dad too. I must sound like I’m just being really unsypmathetic but because of the lack of connection to her, or any of the other characters, I couldn’t really generate any sort of empathy for them.
I thought that the relationships between characters were quite poorly developed and I never really got the sense that there was much connection between any of them. The ‘best’ relationship would be that between Emaline and her little brother Benji though even that is a little strange given that they develop a close bond from almost nothing. There were quite rapid personality changes in the two love interests and to make things even more confusing, one of them then reverts back to his old self at the end of the novel. The biggest character development came from one of the minor characters who we really don’t see much of and therefore it’s all a bit irrelevant and I wish that character had been more prominent because he was probably the most ‘real’ out of them all. We’re clearly supposed to be hating on Emaline’s father – he is a massive twat – but then it felt like Sarah Dessen was trying to get us to sympathise with him or something half way through which I thought was completely unjustified and if that was her intention, it failed miserably to impact me in any way.
What disappointed me most of all, was that this book really wasn’t a romance. At least, it wasn’t in my opinion. Yeah, sure, a large chunk of the novel is focused on Emaline and boy issues, but it wasn’t romantic in the slightest. I would call this a coming-of-age book in which a teenage girl on the brink of leaving home realises what’s important and finds a way to say goodbye to her childhood. I don’t think that’s a completely accurate description, but it’s certainly more accurate than imagining this to be some great romantic summer read. Also these parts were incredibly confusing because Emaline’s feeling were switching one way and another every second. That was probably why I couldn’t connect with her. She herself didn’t seem to know what she was thinking so how was I supposed to understand her? You could argue that the point of the novel is that Emaline is trying to find herself, but because she wasn’t likable either, there really wasn’t much to hold on to.
You know those moments when you’re reading and you find the author has articulated your exact feelings? Well, for me there were several of those moments in the last 100 pages of the book and although that made me like it a lot more, it didn’t bring me any closer to the main character or make the plot seem any more engaging. All in all, this was a pretty mediocre read. It wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t great either. I’m probably so negative because I was expecting something amazing and romantic and summery given all the things I’ve heard about Sarah Dessen’s work. It seems to me like this wasn’t her greatest book so I wouldn’t particularly recommend it to fans or otherwise.
Many thanks to Spinebreakers for providing the review copy 🙂