Still reeling from the events of the Homecoming Masquerade, Nicky Bloom must prepare for the second event of the Coronation contest: The Festival of the Moon. A two-night celebration of glamour and debauchery, the Festival begins with a wild party in the woods and ends with a date auction, where all the boys of the Thorndike senior class bid for the right to wine and dine one of the girls wearing black.
With help from Jill Wentworth and the rest of the Network, Nicky dives headfirst into the world of lust, gossip, and intrigue that is Thorndike Academy. And as she and the other girls wearing black struggle for position, Nicky must keep her true identity a secret, not only from the other students at school, but from the vampire who is watching her every move.
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Disappointing but promising
Festival of the Moon is a disappointing follow-up to the first “Girls Wearing Black” book, The Homecoming Masquerade. Whereas Book 1 set up a unique premise, progressed at a brisk pace, teased out relevant information and swapped skilfully between POVs, Book 2 seemed to bloat and stagnate.
Book 1 played out like some kind of high-stakes multi-player tag-team chess game, each character – dual protagonists, dual antagonists and other key players – strategizing, making calculated moves and reacting as the tension and complications compounded.
I think it must have benefitted from its contained setting (a three hours masquerade ball with no set-up) because Book 2 tends to meander and lose its way as it sprawls across the subsequent two weeks.
The continuing story – a ringer backed by a consortium on vampire hunters is trying to win what is essentially a high-stakes beauty pageant in which the winner will be made into an immortal to give the hunters a chance to kill a reclusive master vampire – got off to a great start in Book1.
Nicky’s campaign to win should have kicked into high gear in the Festival of the Moon but it stalls out of the gate. She’s busy being sad over the boy that can’t be with her and an entire precious week passes in a bout of depression and prophetic dreams.
Meanwhile, our other protagonist, Jill is also busy being sad about the boy who doesn’t want to be with her and spends a major chunk of her story on her own, chasing a new guy or also having prophetic dreams (and side note, enough the prophetic dreams - they were a real crutch in this story).
Worse still, the guy they’re both pining for is the *same* guy but the story doesn’t even take the opportunity to develop the character relationship thanks to the tension of the love triangle. Jill and Nicky have maybe three scenes together and we get neither building camaraderie nor rising conflict.
So forget about focusing on their life or death mission, our protagonists are wallowing in boy drama leaving all the exciting strategy and fascinating POVs to the antagonists. Without worthy opponents or serious consequences for the girls’ lack of focus though, the climax falls flat.
So why have I given such a lukewarm book a high rating (especially for me)? Well I guess it’s because of the goodwill the far superior Book 1 built-up and my hope that the series can recover from this stumble.
Considering the masses of truly awful YA out there, Festival of the Moon isn’t that bad by comparison and as a new series with huge potential, I think it is worth checking out.
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