This review has been migrated from my old book blog.
Imagine a world where kids run free without any parental interference. That’s the world the characters in Night of the Purple Moon (The Toucan Trilogy) find themselves in, but the circumstances that got them there are rather grim and it’s not all fun and games. Scott Cramer’s post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel is set on a small island off the coast of Maine. After a global catastrophic event devastates the population, sparing only those under the age of 15, the island’s children must learn to survive on their own.
The author does a lot of things right. The obstacles they face are ever larger and the stakes are constantly being upped. The pacing is excellent, making this a real page turner. Most of the children in the book are honest and good. Rather than falling apart, the children on the island come together to form a new society that, while not without challenge, is almost idealistic. Yet, the author doesn’t shy away from also showing how easily society could fall apart.
Though well-plotted and engaging, the book is not without its flaws. It is rather short, even for a YA novel, and character development suffers as a result. The main character is a Mary Sue in the worst possible way. She has but one flaw, a fear of fog, and even that she approaches in a rational and consistent manner. As such, she is shorted a meaningful character arc. She’s not really a different, better or more mature person at the end, she’s just the same person in different circumstances.
Secondary characters get shorted even more. The love interests are flat stereotypes who are basically props that come in and out when it is useful to the plot. One character who seems important in the beginning completely disappears for most of the story and is only talked about by other characters. When he does finally show up again, what follows is quite predictable. It makes it difficult to really care for the characters, because they never really feel like real people. Most of the character don’t even have physical descriptions. A lot are described as being this person’s son or that persons’ daughter, which is odd, considering we never meet their parents.
The end leaves a lot to be desired. Not only is it entirely implausible, but it is also a cheat. It wants to make sacrifices without actually committing to them. Up until the end, the plot is the strength of the book. The ever escalating obstacles pull the reader through at a quick, easy pace and then it hits a wall that left this reader feeling disappointed.
Still, there are a lot of good things about this book. It gives children a lot of credit. It portrays most of them as being mature enough to handle the day-to-day problems associated with life without any parental control. It also shows the realistic consequences faced by those who did not rise to the challenge. Even with its flaws, it is worth the read.