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Category: middle grade

REVIEW: Save the Date

REVIEW: Save the Date

Save the Date 

by Morgan Matson

3/5 stars

“‘Nothing else,” I promised, “is going to go wrong.” Just as I said this, there was a faint pop and then the room was thrown into darkness.”

Charlie is very excited that finally all her family members will be together again as they congregate for her older sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Her family, famous from her mother’s successful 25 year running comic strip, is set to celebrate the wedding on Saturday and interview with Good Morning America on Sunday. The picture perfect family that is portrayed in the comic, and the one cemented into Charlie’s head is put through the ringer when several horrific wedding disasters happen, forcing Charlie, along with the wedding planning assistant Bill, to fix everything at the last minute. Trying to fix everything into being perfect causes Charlie to face how imperfect her family may be after all.

Morgan Matson’s contemporaries are always filled with feel-good themes and young romances, perfect for a summer beach read. Save the Date was no different in that it had the same feeling of summer antics, yet for me, fell flat in many of the ways her other books did not. Due to the setting and circumstances of the book (a wedding), there was a parade of characters all thrown in at once, adding anxiety to the reading experience as I tried to catch up with the unique personalities of each character. Something I think she did quite well with this, however, was the dynamic feeling of many of the characters. They did not feel like plot devices for the main character but characters that all had their own set of talents and struggles. The immense amount of personalities that were introduced felt like much of the first half of the book and suffered on the plot.

The main character, Charlie, did not feel like a strong character but more of a reflection of the people and events happening around her. I thought that she had some important qualities that I enjoyed Matson commenting on at the end, learning some lessons that many young individuals go through, like dealing with change and becoming and independent person from your family. Charlie seemed very ‘young’ to me, despite the fact that she was 18 based on her outbursts and reactions. I would have enjoyed seeing more of her after she had learned some of these important lessons.

Overall, I thought that Matson wrote a fun and quick contemporary that touched on some important themes but I found that the execution of the novel was done poorly. It seemed like a panic, which possibly reflected the feelings of the characters but felt rushed as a reader. Despite the problems I had with the pacing and the characters, I thought the plot was well done, if a little short and overshadowed by the character introductions. I enjoyed the wedding setting and, as usual, I enjoyed the tone of Matson’s writing.



REVIEW: The Explorers: The Reckless Rescue

REVIEW: The Explorers: The Reckless Rescue

The Explorers: The Reckless Rescue

by Adrienne Kress

“The he thought about himself. About not making it. About all the adventures he had never had because he had never known he’d wanted to have them”

I received an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a middle grade series about an adventure society and this book is focused on the rescue of one of their newest “members”. The point of view is told from 12 year old’s Evie and Sebastian. Evie’s perspective takes her on a journey to find Sebastian and her grandfather and Sebastian’s takes him on a wild ride of running from bad guys and being kidnapped. I would say this book is best suited for the younger middle-grade readers, probably 7-12. This book is a quick and fun read that focuses on the discovery of self and the love of adventure. It is action packed throughout and keeps the reader on their toes.

The writing by Kress is so much fun to read. Her chapter heading and footnotes are witty and hilarious, adding an extra bit of fun to the novel, especially during the slower parts of the book. The plot is well thought out and takes the reader on a wild journey. It is an excellent read. The only downfall to the book was that it seemed like a filler novel, because only the smallest bit of it drove the larger plot forward. That being said, the adventure they go in is necessary for character development and I found that he dynamic characters of Evie and Sebastian were relatable and realistic. they have their strengths and their weaknesses and they play on both in fun and interesting ways.

The Reckless Rescue uses fun and clever plot structures and dialogue to make an interesting adventure for all readers. A younger audience is suited because most of the plot, the younger characters are accompanied by an adult, lending to a feeling of child-like protection. I think the adults in the book are interesting characters all in their own and an older audience can learn from them as well. This is a book that will hook you instantly and keep you wondering what is going to happen next. There is something for everyone and the writing has a cinematic feel to it that makes the book come alive.