Published by Simon and Schuster UK Children's on May 16, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Raised in isolation and home-schooled by her strict grandparents, the only experience Birdie has had of the outside world is through her favourite crime books.
But everything changes when she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel. There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s charismatic driver, and together they stumble upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—is secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell, and in doing so, realize that the most confounding mystery of all may just be her growing feelings for Daniel.
Serious Moonlight is by far my favourite contemporary YA novel that I’ve read so far this year. Granted, there hasn’t been a single Jenn Bennett book that I haven’t loved, but Serious Moonlight is my absolute favourite of everything that she has ever written. I loved the setting, the characters, the issues discussed, the mystery and just the fact that it was super sex-positive.
Probably my favourite thing about this book is that the opening is pretty much the YA version of the opening of Grey’s Anatomy (which was one of my favourite shows for the first like 7 seasons). Our main character Birdie has lived a sheltered, home-schooled life with her grandparents after the passing of her mother when she was a young child. After the death of her overprotective grandmother, and with her schooling now over, Birdie is free to get a job and explore what she wants to do in life. On a particularly ‘wild’ night, she ends up hooking up with a guy in the backseat of his car and ends up fleeing when she realises how strange and out of character it was for her. But of course, the mystery guy ends up as a colleague at the hotel where Birdie just landed a job and things get a little bit awkward and complicated. Especially when she can’t seem to stop thinking about our mystery guy, Daniel.
I just loved Birdie so much. I related to her on so many different levels, from feeling really awkward when talking to others who just seemed so confident in their own skin to being scared to take risks for fear of failure or ending up alone. She was an extremely interesting character and I loved how her fear of abandonment was portrayed in this novel and the way that it drove the plot. I also enjoyed that Birdie was a mystery buff and loved doing detective work and solving mysteries. I’m definitely not the same kind of person but all of the mystery elements in the novel were really fun and I absolutely loved that Birdie and Daniel had their own little mystery to solve, which brought them closer together. I was a bit worried that the mystery wasn’t going to be fully thought out and that it would only be used as a way of getting Birdie and Daniel together, but was really happy that it was fully integrated into the plot of the book.
I absolutely loved Daniel as well. He was super swoony, even though the long hair and top knot/man bun definitely is not my thing. He was just really charming but had his own flaws that he didn’t really try to hide from Birdie… too much. I enjoyed that he had great chemistry with Birdie and pushed her out of her comfort zone without being an overbearing scumbag. I loved their romance and was shipping them extremely hard from the very beginning of the book. Jenn Bennett created this beautiful tension where I wasn’t sure if they were going to get together or not, throughout the entire book. It was frustrating as a reader who really wanted them to be together but it worked beautifully as a story. Jenn Bennett also does not shy away from talking about sex in this novel, in an extremely tasteful and positive way that still manages to convey not only the good but also the not-so-good aspects.
Daniel: This is me when I think about u:
(>’-‘)><(‘_'<)^(‘_’)\- \m/(-_-)\m/ <( ‘-‘)> \_( .”)><( ._.)-`
Me: What is that? Someone having a stroke?
Daniel: It’s dancing, Birdie.
The side characters were also well fleshed out and contributed greatly to the story. I loved Birdie’s Aunt Mona, her godmother who has been the mother figure in her life. Mona almost acted like a sister to Birdie and was a great role model who urged Birdie to go out and find her own identity and pursue the things that she wants. I also loved Birdie’s grandfather who bonded with Birdie over their mutual love of crime novels and their narcolepsy. And I especially loved Daniel’s family and his grandfather who was hilarious in his pursuit of things that would make his neighbour angry. Serious Moonlight just had the absolute best cast of characters that I’ve read in a contemporary novel for a long time.
I would say that this book is mostly character-driven. Though I did love the plot a lot, I felt like it jumped around a little bit and it wasn’t super clear where the book was going, particularly in the middle section. I’m docking half a star for that but otherwise, I could read this book over and over and over.
I love love love Serious Moonlight and I can’t say enough good things about the characters and their relationships and interactions. The book was serious at times, funny at times, and charming all throughout. I cannot wait for Jenn Bennett’s next novel!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5