ARC Review: Valley of the Moon by Bronwyn Archer

29866398Rating: 3/5

Published: April 13th, 2016 by Bronarch Books

Length: 282 pages

Genre: YA, contemporary, social issues, mystery, romance

Source: I received a review copy from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . .

Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.

She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.

It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.

Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets.

Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?

Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.

A contemporary YA romantic mystery for ages 16 and up.

I’m writing this review a day after I’ve finished the book and I’m still not totally sure what to think of it. There were good things and not-so-good things.

First off, the blurb had me expecting a story that would focus really on Lana’s mother’s death but I didn’t really feel like this didn’t take center-stage until over halfway through the book. The first half felt like a romance – it focuses almost solely on Lana’s budding relationship with Caleb and her rivalry with the school’s it-girl, Cressida. There are a few moments that talk about Lana’s mom, but it really didn’t feel like that was going to be the main focus of the story.

That brings me to another thing I didn’t really like. The relationship between Lana and Caleb didn’t feel real to me. The two meet at a party and then are immediately talking about how happy they are they met and Caleb’s family is offering to pay for her to go on vacation to Hawaii with them. It just felt like it moved really quickly and although it wasn’t quite insta-love to me, it didn’t seem to be a reasonable pace. The only redeeming thing about it was that Lana does acknowledge that it’s moving quickly and that she doesn’t really know anything about him.

The book in general seemed a little messy. All the different things that happen didn’t seem to really fit together, even after it was all explained. I still don’t really understand how Lana’s mom fit into everything that was happening in the book. I’m hoping that book 2 will help clear a lot of this up.

My last complaint is that there were some truly bizarre descriptions that sometimes were even borderline offensive. For example, there’s one sentence that really threw me: “She arched an anorexic brow.” I think the author was trying to show us that the character had thin eyebrows but I honestly have no clue. I genuinely don’t know what that can even mean. And just in general, using anorexic as an adjective is a big no-no (at least for me).

The reason why I still gave the book 3 stars was because of the ending. The last fourth or fifth of the book was really great. It was action-packed and really suspenseful. Once I hit a certain point, I couldn’t put the book down. If the whole book had been like this, I would have loved it. I’m hoping we see more of that action and suspense in the next book.

All in all, it’s not a bad read but it’s far from perfect. I think I will probably pick up book 2 when it comes out so I can see what’s next for Lana.

3 stars


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