Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour- Morgan Matson

Bought from Book Depository

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

I’m always wary of a book that has oodles of five star ratings on Amazon and not much else, because they’re rarely as perfect as Amazon’s little gold stars would suggest. ‘Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour’ more than lived up to the hype, and deserves every single one of those five star ratings.

The plot wasn’t something I’d seen before—a road trip across America that started out as a slog but turned into a journey of discovery. Morgan Matson made it all the more real with playlists, photos, ticket stubs and sketches, all extracted from Amy’s travel diary.

Amy was a completely genuine character that I really empathized with. Her pain felt very real to me, and it made her transformation much more profound. It seems like a lot of books I’ve read recently feature characters that change superficially or not at all. This was not the case with Amy. I was rooting for her throughout the book and Matson really delivered—it was one of those cases when you feel so, so happy for a character.

Roger? Let me tell you straight out that before reading this I had a subconscious issue with the name Roger. Ever since I read Tamora Pierce’s ‘Song of the Lioness’ quartet when I was a pre-teen, I’ve always associated the name Roger with the evil sorcerer in those books, but happily, my opinion’s been reversed. I think that Morgan Matson said somewhere that he was based on her idea of the perfect travel companion, and I completely agree. Roger was hugely different from all these scary but alluring heroes you get in a lot of YA these days; he was pretty calm, and it always felt like he had things under enough control that something terrible wasn’t going to happen.

That said, I loved that he was still a teenage guy with his own quirks and issues that he had to resolve, and even though he was the perfect travel companion, he wasn’t completely okay with himself. I know I always rant about how real characters feel and how they need flaws to achieve that realistic feeling, but it’s so true: I’ve said recently that Lili St. Crow is, in my opinion, the master of this, but Morgan Matson’s not so far behind. Since she's a debut author, that makes things even more impressive.

The secondary characters were well developed, and I got quite attached to them: Roger’s excitable friend Bronwyn, the game-addicted Leonard, Lucien, and even Amy’s destructive brother Charlie. I’m not going to say much about romance, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that I got the biggest grin on my face and the happy buzz that’s reserved only for extremely sweet moments.

The best part of this book was that I learned a lot about the US—I can probably count the number of states I’ve been to on a little more than one hand, so the inclusion of so many quirky mottos, foods and state beverages was really fun for me. It hit home somewhere in the middle of the book that America is really big, and there’s so much to see. I spoke to my mother right after I turned the last page, and informed her that a road trip is in my very near future.

I adore the cover—it’s perfect for the story, and the photographer in me appreciated the leading lines drawing your eyes up to the clasped hands. I think that particular element captures the story quite well: there’s a nice theme of things coming together, not just between Amy and Roger but also that the shattered pieces of Amy’s life are slowly fusing back into a single whole.

In short? The title hits the nail on the head. ‘Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour’ really is… epic.

Tia thought so too.


1 comment:

  1. If you say a book's epic, well... it's gotta be epic. So as soon as these evil things ruining my life (also known as EXAMS) are over, this is going to be right at the top of my reading list! I trust you implicitly... now isn't that nice? :) Oh and I finished Jessica's Guide... Completely agree with your review, it really wasn't thought through that well but still pretty light-hearted and most definitely fun. And I liked Lucius enough to give a little shriek when I thought he died...


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