Sleuthing in the Moonlight

Serious MoonlightSerious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Thank you, Simon & Schuster, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Missing people is hard. Letting new people inside is harder. But the reward for making that effort was greater than I could have imagined.

It was my first time to read a Jenn Bennett novel, and I must say that it defied most of my expectations. I admit that I wasn’t that optimistic, particularly about the romance. After all, YA contemporary is infamous for love at first sight and other tropes that are often annoying. Fortunately, this book deviated from the status quo.

Serious Moonlight brings something new to the genre: a narcoleptic protagonist. In simpler terms, it follows a girl who can’t control her sleeping patterns. Birdie has another remarkable quality: She loves solving real-life mysteries. When Daniel, a former acquaintance, asks her to help him figure out the identity of an anonymous author, she can’t help but grant his request. As Birdie and Daniel discover various clues, they gradually get over their awkward past. However, Daniel has secrets that threaten to break their budding relationship.

After reading the first few chapters, I knew what Daniel was hiding. Or so I thought. Frankly, all of my guesses were wrong. I want to disclose them here, but doing so might spoil the entire story for you. All I can say is that you better not underestimate the author. If you pay attention even to the minutest details, you’ll be rewarded with a great eureka moment. To be fair, I probably just overanalyzed things and made far-fetched assumptions about the plot. Hahaha.

Birdie and Daniel were generally enjoyable to read about. The former rekindled my desire to write a contemporary retelling of Sleeping Beauty, while the latter’s Japanese heritage encouraged me to get back into the world of anime. Their initial conversations were quite funny because of their history. Come to think of it, Birdie and Daniel’s romance was far from traditional. I didn’t necessarily support it, but less conservative readers might feel otherwise.

My primary concern was the depiction of mental illness. One of the protagonists suffered from depression, and although its ramifications were addressed, I felt that the condition was glossed over. I recently read Bad Romance, so in this regard, I inevitably made comparisons. Contrary to what happened in Serious Moonlight, therapy isn’t always enough and being romantically involved with a depressed person must not be so easy.

Overall, I liked Serious Moonlight because of its unpredictable plot, as well as its diverse (narcoleptic/Japanese/partially deaf) characters. I was bothered by the rushed resolution, but the author probably had a maximum word count. For a contemporary book, 432 pages are already a lot.