Night of The Purple Moon by Scott Cramer
Updated: May 3, 2018
I like the cover of this book a great deal. It's disturbing and inviting at the same time, while clearly defining its young adult audience.
The premise of the novel (and the series to follow) is solid and interesting - a space borne disease that creates a sudden planet of child-only survivors with death perched at puberty's dividing line. Nice! It also featured a strong and admirable female main character. All good things and with a reasonably well thought out plot. The execution, however, as far as character development and pacing left many things to be desired.
Some have pointed out the writer's clean and succinct style but for me it was too sparse, too clinical, and created a descriptive world that was flat and often needlessly uninteresting. There were often fascinating moments happening in the story but the writer's emotionally distant style drained the color right out. Emotional moments were quickly curtailed and the barest of explanations were often given for changes in the children's conditions or outlook - moments that should have been expanded. Opportunities for the children to be conflicted between childhood and premature adulthood were often missed or glossed over with a short comment. Opportunities for the characters to demonstrate their necessary learning of how to drive, how to cook, how to change diapers, handle injuries, run meetings, dole out punishments, develop job lists, plan for the future, learn to lead, learn to follow, how to work, how to build, etc., etc. were typically missed or handled in the briefest of brief mentions in passing. These types of moments would have allowed a great deal of humor, pathos and character development but they were ignored. In many ways the novel felt like an expanded outline for a novel to be - one with better and deeper characters.
The dialogue was often too short, unhelpful, or just didn't seem to ring true to the ages. Yes, their dialogue will change as they prematurely take on adult responsibilities but we never saw the transition during the story. Characters were hard to keep straight since many were nearly interchangeable. I thought digging into the motivations for the three "renegade teens" were a great opportunity missed. Their actions in the last third of the book remain more of a mystery than a revelation. Ironically, the mainland gang of children are better developed and more revealing than the ones we spent most of the book with. Odd.
I am conflicted because I liked the novel quite a bit and yet I had hoped for so much more than what is here. I would like to give it a 4 but I just can't. Perhaps, a 3.5 would be more accurate to my feelings.