When I started getting into contempoary YA this summer, I had a lot of awesome books recommended to me. I went out and bought most of them immediately. But one book elluded me: Graffiti Moon, by Cath Crowley, would not be released to the North American public until February of 2012.
As I continued to work on my blog, I noticed many of my fellow bloggers were reading and reviewing the book. Finally I gathered the courage to ask someone how they had gotten to do this and they pointed me toward NetGalley. Within the span of a few days I was approved to read Graffiti Moon. I dove in without hesitation.
It is my pleasure to tell everyone reading my blog that this book did not simply meet my expectations -- it exceeded them. Graffiti Moon is a painting done in words; an achievement of true literary beauty. Now let me tell you why...
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."
It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.
His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.
Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.
But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.
Graffiti Moon sets itself up for quite a challenge. The actual events of the story take place over the course of one evening. One great, eventful, life changing evening that will alter the destines of those involved. It could not have worked had Lucy and Ed not had history. Oh, but they did... it with that began the brilliance.
Lucy wants to find Shadow. Ed is Shadow. Lucy and Ed went on a date that ended super bad -- she broke his nose. And now she is following him through town on a quest to find Shadow, while Ed is determined to keep her from learning his secret. Yes, the book rides on dramatic irony in very big ways. And the use of it pays off time and again.
The blend between romance, characters being developed and action is all very well balanced here. I felt that I really got to know the two major characters, Ed and Lucy. I also found myself cheering for Leo, Jazz, Dylan and Daisy... While each romance or relationship is not given equal time in the spotlight, each situation is developed enough that it actually matters rather then being relegated to filler or background noise. I did not find any fat or padding in this book and that is a good thing.
I loved Lucy. She was fiesty, passionate and fiery, just like the heat needed to make the art she was studying. I felt that she had a lot of pluck and confidence and I enjoyed seeing things from her perspective. Some of the decissions she made and actions she took made me laugh out loud as the night went on. this was a case where the author made me really care about what the character wanted so that I wanted it too.
But Ed was no slouch, either. I found him interesting, complex and compelling. I always love it when a guy in contemporary YA gets me more interested in seeing him and the heroine get a happy ending then I am with a paranormal couple. Why? Because, as my boyfriend Jay puts it, "How can you care about something you could go down the street and see?"
What people do not realize -- and what they would realize if they read a beautiful book like Graffiti Moon -- is that words can capture things that simply have no full and real means of expression when we are actually living our lives. Ed was as bold, vibrant and memorable as any "hero" I've read, and he was actually that way because of his flaws and the fact that he was still willing to take action in spite of them.
I liked Leo and Jazz because they were like mirrors for Ed and Lucy, only in reverse. Leo is very good with words (unlike Ed) while Jazz is more adventurous then Lucy and is the reason that Lucy ended up in the situations she ends up in by the beginning of the story. And while it is Lucy who makes the ultimate decissions to take action by the story's end (which she should -- she's the heroine), had she not had a little coaxing from Jazz, there really wouldn't be a story.
The other thing I really loved was the parallel between Bart and Al. Because in a way they symbolize the past and the future, these two benevolent elderly gentlemen who have made such tremendous impacts on Ed and Lucy's lives. I don't want to get too much into what goes on here, since I don't want my review filled with spoilers. But trust me, Al and Bert are vital and deserve to be recognized.
I thought that the way this was handled was really cool. The main romance, between Ed and Lucy was heightened by the fact that the reader knows what they don't -- that they've gone on a date before and that it wasn't "great" by any stretch. The reader also knows from word go that Ed is Shadow, leaving the question of what will happen when Lucy learns the truth.
I liked the fact that Ed had some issues and that he was not the "perfect dream guy" that is popular in some books. Don't misunderstand, though: he wasn't an egotistical jerk either. He was a character drawn with true strengths and weaknesses that made him feel very real. I am not 100% certain if Crowley was trying to tell us that Ed had some form of Dyslexia, but having dated guys who do / did have that it won my sympathy.
I liked the fact that Lucy's dream guy, the Shadow she envisioned in her mind, was heavily influenced by art as she was. It made me feel that she valued herself enough, right there and then and totally "as is", which is something I admire in a heroine and which becomes even more admirable when it remains even when romance enters the picture.
At the same time, there are also situations happening between Leo and Jazz, and Dylan and Daisy. While these aren't as detailed as Ed and Lucy, they are still given enough care to be interesting and not to feel like filler or a distraction when they are brought up.
The pacing of this book was excellent and whenever life tried to call my away from it I was not exactly a wiling participant. I found myself very wrapped up in this story, even though it all happens over the course of an evening, and feel that I got to casually observe a major turning point in these characters lives. It was a pretty cool experience and this is a book I am sure I will want to read again.
If you like romances with a quick moving plot, beautiful writing and extremely memorable characters Graffiti Moon is definitely for you.