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So The Moon and More is actually the first Sarah Dessen book I've ever read 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.
About the book
The Moon and More is a young adult book by Sarah Dessen and part of her Colby series of books. It was published by Penguin on 4th June and the book is 448 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
After the summer Emaline is heading off to college and leaving her beach home town of Colby. Right now, everything is the same. Working for her bossy sister drives Emaline crazy but then she has her gorgeous (and usually topless) boyfriend Luke to help save her. This summer is going to be like no other though. When New York filmmaker Theo and his boss come to Colby for the summer, they change everything for Emaline.
What I thought
Having never read a Sarah Dessen book before I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had heard such good things about her novels but have just never gotten round to any of them.
From what I understand, many of her books are set in Colby, where this one is also set. I really liked the beach town setting as it was quite laid back and relaxed. There is a certain way of life here where everyone knows everybody else and they look after their own. The tourists who come every summer to rent the beach houses are the outsiders who come and invade the town every year but also those who keep it going. I could get a really good feel for what life was like in this place and it also gave the book a nice, summery feel to it.
Emaline was a character who I really liked. It became clear early on what a hard worker she was even with having a very unconventional life. She is made to work for the family business and runs around like crazy, even though it is her last summer before college. Emaline seems to do whatever anyone asks of her and save for a few grumbles, she doesn't seem to mind doing it either. Even with being so busy, she has a great group of friends around her and her family and it was great to see her interacting with everyone.
A large chunk of the plot revolves around Emaline's family life. At home she has a loving mum and dad as well as sisters but she also has a father. Emaline separates her dad and father as the one who brought her up and the one who didn't. She and her father have a broken relationship and it is one she doesn't understand. For Emaline, she wants a relationship with her father as he is part of her family but even with her mum's explanations, she is so confused about his actions and why he isn't as close to her as he could be. I really liked this aspect of the story and found it much more interesting than the filmmaker character's parts.
I was expecting The Moon and More to be more of a romance story. While I didn't mind too much that there wasn't more romance, it would have been a nice addition. Yes, there were moments but just not enough for me. Emaline has boyfriend Luke around but he isn't in the book even nearly enough. At the beginning, it seemed as though they had a great relationship but we never really got to see enough of it. Then there is second love interest Theo, who I absolutely hated. He was pretentious and annoying and I couldn't really see the attraction to him at all.
While this was an okay book, I didn't love it. The plot was pretty standard but nothing spectacular and I think a hotter summer romance could have made it much more entertaining.
*This review will also be posted on my blog and other sites*