Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Once in Full Moon

Ellen Schreiber
Paranormal Young Adult
304 Pages
Harper Teen/Katherine Tegen Books
Releases January 1st
Received from publisher via NetGalley

Celeste has a pretty good life. She has two best friends, Abby and Ivy, and she's dating the ultra-handsome Nash which makes her the envy of almost the entire female population at school. On a dare, the girls travel across town to visit a psychic who provides both Abby and Ivy with fairly mundane and banal fortunes, but shocks everyone by telling Celeste to beware of a kiss under the full moon as it will irrevocably change her life.

Unbeknownst to her friends, Celeste is only imagining kissing one boy under the full moon, and it's not her boyfriend Nash. New student Brandon Maddox has caught her attention, holding her spellbound though a relationship with him is impossible as he's from the wrong side of Legend's Fall.

While Celeste pines for Brandon, rumors of the the infamous Legend's Fall werewolf increase exponentially as more and more wolves are spotted all over town despite typically staying away from populated areas. Disregarding the psychic's warning, Celeste gets the kiss she's been dreaming of night after night, only what follows is not the incandescent glow of true love, but rather the stuff of myths and legends.

Because there aren't too many unique paranormal entities on which to base a novel, most creatures having been written about at one point or another, it's important to find one or two elements (a new twist on the familiar mythology or incredibly engaging characters) that cause the book to shine against a dull backdrop of the same monotonous tale. Unfortunately, Once in a Full Moon fails to do anything other than strictly adhere to a common folklore, employing popular plot devices without injecting them with an added spark to cause a flush in our cheeks, an ache in our hearts, or any other physical manifestation indicative of deep involvement with characters or story. Instead, we as readers are like skipping stones, glossing quickly over a surface we've tread again and again, up in the air at intervals with nothing on which to latch to weigh us down enough that we drop from the air and plunge beneath a thoroughly exhausted superficial layer and into the wells of a gloriously expansive depth.

Legend's Fall is a town divided very definitively between the Eastside, identified by it's more suburban feel, and the Westside, a more agricultural community opposed to the ever-encroaching spans of concrete and development. This small difference causes dissent among the residents of each side, making the attraction between Celeste, an Eastsider, and Brandon, a Westsider, a type of forbidden romance. However, there is really no explanation for the rampant bias against the Westside in the high school, and though people often don't need much cause to formulate a prejudice, a more clear and profound reason for their hatred would have been welcome to help us better understand the Romeo and Juliet-esque scenario. Perhaps an old family feud, or an ugly rumor spread generation to generation, or a more extreme difference in quality of life; anything to make us suck in a breath and hold it every time Brandon and Celeste are together, inching to the very edge of our seats as we desperately hope they don't get caught. Instead, we get only the possibility of mild ridicule and a potential drop in social status, and though in high school that is often tragic, it's ultimately not enough to help us make sense of Celeste's adamant refusal to publicly acknowledge Brandon.

Celeste herself defies logical explanation at times as she possesses some rather baffling contradictory opinions. She at one point questions whether or not she can be with Brandon when it's implied he's the type of person to scare one of her friends on purpose when in the thrall of the moon, but yet she remains utterly devoted to peers who constantly ostracize him for simply living at a perceived geographical disadvantage. She defends him verbally but shuns him physically, claiming to be different from the masses but proving with every action she's just another carbon copy of the Eastsider standing next to her. Celeste glides through her life towing the popular line, blanketed in a mediocrity she refuses to shed, comfortable with friends who do only what's best for them and a boyfriend who doesn't push her to be an individual, but settles instead for a drone who spouts idealistic notions yet refuses to act on them.

This story declares itself to be one of finding true love, and though Celeste professes to have found that elusive emotion with Brandon, she's unwilling to emerge from her protective prejudicial cocoon and be the person she says she wants to be. Brandon, for his part, is oddly content being relegated to the shadows for his confounding outsider status, and the love they declare for one another is a difficult pill to swallow when neither demonstrates the courage to fight to be together. If admitting to their relationship would be on pain of death, the financial ruin of a family, or something equally daunting, then their mild displays of latent defiance and fear of discovery would be understandable, but with only the disdain of four or five teenagers as a consequence, it's shockingly difficult to empathize with their circumstances.

Overall Once in a Full Moon is a quick, easy read, one that may appeal much more to younger readers as opposed to adult fans of teen fiction, but it ultimately comes to the table with a well-used recipe devoid of any fresh ingredients.

Rating: 1.5/5


  1. Great honest review. I could never get into this series and agree it is more suited to the younger readers :)

  2. Thanks for the honest review, Jenny. I have yet to read any positive reviews of this book. It's seems to be an all-round let down, so I will be giving it a miss!

  3. Hey Jenny, great review. I felt like so much was missing. Although I really did enjoy her Vampires Kisses books, I'm surprised that this book was a let down for me. I really expected more. *sigh*

  4. I keep reading vague reviews reporting that this one isn't at all impressive-- thanks for laying down exactly why. Celeste sounds like the kind of character who would grate on my nerves also. Too bad, because I thought Vampire Kisses were a couple of fun reads. Anyway, thanks for the review. :)

  5. Good honest review. I read this one as well, and probably gave it a better rating than it deserved. At first I thought it was pretty decent, some things bugged me, but it wasn't until I talked to some blogger friends who also read it that I realized it was exactly like Vampire Kisses 1. But I still didn't go back and change the rating just because. It was a fast read and I guess if younger reads like werewolves better than vamps than it would be a good read.

  6. Wonderful review as always Jenny. I've been curious abt this one and thanks to your review will pass on it for now.

  7. Thank you so so much for your honest review of this one, Jenny. I've been wondering about it, but you definitely hit the nail on the head. Every paranormal element has been addressed, so authors have to strive to break the formulaic mold these's too bad this one didn't!

  8. Thanks for the honest review. I think I'll be skipping this one.

  9. Good honest review! Sometimes book just don't do it for us but may appeal to others.

  10. yeah, another most negative review to this one... I wont be reading this one anytime soon =/

    Thanks for the review Jenny! =D

  11. Nic - Definitely, I felt very old reading it.

    Leanna - It was a bit disappointing after such an interesting blurb and beautiful cover.

    Savy - I'll have to give the Vampire Kisses books a try and see if I like them better:)

    Kat - Celeste was a problem for me in this one, I just didn't understand her or her actions at times.

    Jessica - It's hard for me to give bad reviews and low ratings, but I've read a lot of good YA lately, and this just wasn't on the same level, but then again about 15 years out of the target audience range:)

    Tori - Thanks! You wouldn't care for it I don't think:)

    Melissa - I was hoping there would be something new since I love werewolves, but when the werewolf transformation consisted only of the boy growing a goatee, I couldn't get on board. Hubs has a goatee, pretty sure he's not a werewolf.

    Midnyte - You're welcome!

    Felicia - Absolutely, I think younger teens or MG will enjoy this one much more than I did.

    Larissa - You're welcome:)

  12. Thanks for the review...most bloggers gloss over books they don't like. It's nice to have an honest review.

  13. Jenny, I definitely love your honesty and how you were honest without being harsh. I've been wanting to read this one, but I may just hold off now. This novel doesn't seem like it will appeal to me in the slightest.


  14. This is actually the third or fourth review I've read about this book and they were all very similar in viewpoints. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts and feelings!

  15. I'll definitely be skipping this one. I prefer titles for older YA!

  16. I've only read negative reviews on this book. It does seem like it would be a better read for younger teens. It's a shame because the summary sounds really interesting, but the whole shunning of the boy she supposedly "loves" isn't something I would want to read. Thanks for the honesty. :D

  17. I like how thoroughly you explained why you didn't like the characters. I'm a character person, and if I can't get on board with the actions of the character, then I have a real hard time liking the story. It's a shame this one has gotten so many negative reviews, though each seem to mention it may have more success with MGers or younger teens. I'm curious to hear from someone in that age bracket.

  18. I love the cover but I don't think I'll be adding this to my list. Thanks for the honest review!

  19. Demitria - You're welcome, I like to give my honest opinion whether I like the book or not:)

    Ashley - It just wasn't for me!

    Tara - You're welcome, I think it was just too young and therefore I couldn't relate to the characters' actions.

    Mollie - Me too!

    Adriana - That was my main problem, I couldn't understand why she refused to acknowledge him and why he was okay with that.

    Small - Thanks! I would be interested to hear from younger teens on this one as well, their perspective might be very different.

    Cari - I loved the cover as well, that's what drew me in, the story just didn't live up to it unfortunately.

  20. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one. I'm always looking for a new spin on a familiar concept, but they're harder to find than one would think! Also, I completely understand your frustration with being told that these two characters love one another when their actions would say otherwise. Thanks for the honest review! I will be skipping this one!

  21. Another great honest review..:) Will have to skip this one also. I have read her Vampire Kisses books and felt the same way about them as you feel about this book. I think all her books appeal to the very much younger group and might be just too simple for me.

  22. Wow Jenny! I don't think I have come across such a low rating from you yet.

    Still, your analysis was handled with the same grace and style I've come to enjoy (*cough* live for *cough*). I know that gloriously expansive depth of which you speak. I seek it out in everything I read and am almost broken hearted when I can't find it because it has failed to be delivered.

    Sorry this one didn't submerge you in excitement and wonder, but thank you for the honest review. My feeling is that with as big as my TBR is, I can't waste any precious time skimming surfaces.

  23. Thanks Jenny, I will be skipping this one...too many other great books out there to choose from!

  24. Great review and analysis. I kept away from this one and I guess I know why now. Think I'll skip this book.

  25. I felt everything you did. I did not understand the bias of the Eastsiders toward the Westsiders. There was no explanation. It got under my skin. And Celeste's friends were mean and bratty. And the book was filled with way too many cliches. Wonderful honest review!

  26. Laura - The not owning up to their feelings was a big frustration for me, but I think it would be more understandable if I was in jr. high:)

    Kelsey - I've heard that about Vampire Kisses as well, so I'm not in a big hurry to read them though people have said they enjoyed those more than this one.

    Missie - I know, I usually don't give such low ratings and I hate writing negative reviews, but I just had a few problems with this one:)

    Angelique - I agree!

    Melissa - Thanks, the general consensus on this one seems to be that it was a little disappointing.

    Julie - I just didn't understand the Eastside/Westside thing, especially since Celeste lived like a mile away from the Westside.

  27. I haven't read this one yet, and haven't seen any positive reviews for it. Thank you for your honest review of it. I think I'll be passing on this one.

  28. Love your honesty :)
    Guess I won´t be buying this one. Since this is the second review I have read that is not posetive.. Out of two reviews :P

    But maybe I would give the books a try, since everyone have different taste in books. But guess I don´t want to use money on it. Before I know if it´s worth it..

    Thanks :) And keep up the good work :)

  29. Thanks for your honest opinion on this one, Jenny. I hate characters who I can't connect or make sense out of. I'm going to take a pass on this one.

  30. Thanks for the honest review! I've only heard bad things about this one so I think I'll keep it off my TBR.

  31. Ah, yes, this is one of many not so positive reviews I've read on this one. I'll pass. It's a good thing I've paid attention to the reviews for this one or else I might have fallen for that cover!

  32. Corrine - You're welcome, I think I just wasn't the right target audience for this one, it was a bit too young.

    Moonstar - Exactly, we all like different things:)

    Rummanah - I found Celeste very frustrating, so I just couldn't get past my dislike for her.

    Tara - It wasn't my favorite read, that's for sure:)

    Aylee - The cover is very tempting, it's like a siren calling me in, I wish the story had lived up to it!

  33. Thanks for the honest review. I really liked her Vampire Kisses series so I was hoping that this one would be good too, but from all the reviews I've seen, it sounds like it's not very good.

  34. I loved the cover of this one but you know the saying... It sounds like this one was a disappointment. I really need books I read to have depth and it sounds like this one lacks in this department. Thanks for your well-written review. This is a book I will avoid.

  35. It's so sad when a book is disappointing. I wasn't a huge Vampire Kisses fan, so am not too surprised that this isn't that great either. Thanks for the fair review.

  36. Danna - I haven't read Vampire Kisses, but this one just wasn't for me:(

    Jen - I loved the cover as well, and the blurb sounded great too, but it was much younger feeling than I anticipated.

    Alison - I had a hard time writing the review because I was so disappointed and hated to write anything negative.

  37. That's so sad. I got this one too, now I'm worried. :(

  38. Thanks for the honest review. I didn't like this one that much either and hope the author's other series would be better.

  39. Great review Jenny. I've read both good and okay reviews for Once in a Full Moon and was leaning towards taking it off my wishlist, but your review convinced me to. What a shame because the cover is gorgeous!