Under the Dusty Moon – Suzanne Sutherland

Many thanks to Dundurn, via NetGalley, for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

2/5 stars

I hate writing bad reviews of books that had a lot of potential. But truth be told – this was a really disappointing book. By the time I read it, I’d forgotten what the basic synopsis was – so I read the first part of the blurb, and then dove into the book.

And – as has happened all too frequently in the past months – this book falls under the category of WTF did I just read? It wasn’t that the writing was awful, or that the characters were totally unbelievable (I loved Micky’s obnoxiously adorable mothering style, although it was a little over the top). I just am not quite sure what the point of the book was.

I think that the talent is definitely there to write a good book. And I think that if Sutherland did a rewrite, after seeing what reviewers have posted, she could probably turn out a better version of this story. I’m not saying that that’s remotely viable, but I’m also not trashing the author’s ability to write. There is potential in this book – it just felt to me like Under the Dusty Moon was put together too quickly, and not enough effort was made to ensure that there was a problem that needed to be addressed (i.e., formation of the plot), and that there were logical steps taken to solve that problem.

My biggest peeves were:
* Vic is whiny. End of story. Whining because she’s too hot, too sore, too lonely. Just whining. That’s all it feels like she does. I didn’t really like her. At all. Which – again – was a huge letdown.
* There was the “geek boyfriend” that wasn’t really thatgeeky (which was a huge let-down… based on what was shared in the book, I have NO idea why Vic liked this guy so much… nor do I have the slightest idea why his “round cheeks” were mentioned so many times… how is that “hot”? It makes me think of a baby-faced boy, not a hottie that “could get all the girls he wanted” – or something to that effect).
* Feminist gamers played way too small a part in this book. Wanted more! MORE!!!!
* Mentioning a “distant grandmother” in the blurb generally makes me think of a reconciliation or… something, anythingthat would solve the distance (or explain it!) between grandmother, mother, and granddaughter. But nope. Distant grandmother stayed distant.
* Best friend. After the first portion of the book, I was pretty sure that there was going to be a disclosure about best friend’s sexuality or… something, anything that would incorporate tension and stress and an actual problem into the story that needed to be solved, fixed, coped with, whatever. But nope.

Again – I think there’s potential for Sutherland to write a really good book. I think this book showed that because it had a lot of potentially good elements. Sadly, however, it did not live up to even my low expectations (low because I wasn’t sure what I should have been expecting from it, nothing to do with the author).

But it felt – also – like there were way, way, waaay too many different elements being packed into this book. Distant grandmother, mom going away on a tour (plus concerns about mom’s boyfriends), daughter left at home under grandmother’s charge, boyfriend that was kind of geeky but not really, best friend who didn’t really like boyfriend, elements of gaming/writing games for an all-female gamer group (that weren’t super realistic IMO), girl trying to figure out her place in the world with a world-famous mom (or Canadianfamous anyway)…..

Yeah. Just way too much crammed into a fairly short book. You could take any two or three of the above-mentioned things, and create a book from that alone by going more in-depth with the characterization and other elements of the story that were missing in Under the Dusty Moon, like relationships, tension/a problem that needs to be resolved, etc.

But despite my disappointment, I would read something by Sutherland again for sure. Even though this book felt like it had no purpose, the writing was interesting enough to keep me entertained. Not an “edge of your seat” book by any means, nor quite a “relaxing summer read,” but I did get through it without any cringing or complaining. And unlike the books that I absolutely cannot handle, I didn’t write out the things I hated and wanted to bring up in my review on index cards stashed around on my desk. 🙂

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