Anni Moon by Melanie Abed is a middle-grade novel of uneven quality. At times, I raced through pages from an sincere desire to find out what would happen next to the two main characters and their comrades. Sadly, I also regularly skimmed sections just to get through yet another chapter. Such an experience made this review difficult to write. I struggled to pinpoint why I neither hated nor loved this fantasy, which some readers have compared to the likes of Harry Potter, Great Benedict Society, and even the classic Alice in Wonderland. My emotions were conflicted for the following reasons.
First, there’s the exciting but confusing plot. Most every chapter ends with a cliff hanger. That makes for an intense read, which at times is a good thing. One minute Anni and Lexi are hiding secrets from one another. The next Annie is hearing voices. Another they’re trying to protect each other from being expelled. The next Lexi is asking Anni to protect a doll for her. Eventually, the girls also face thieves, kidnappers … you name the danger, they probably face it. Therein, lies a problem. With each subsequent chapter, my questions increase about why all these threats even exist? Anni and Lexi seem like two ordinary girls living in a boarding school. Why then do so many people intend their harm? Unlike with Harry Potter and Great Benedict Society, none of these answers are forthcoming until the final chapters. I’m not positive every reader will allow themselves to be held that long in suspense.
Second, there are the mysterious but equally bland characters. Anni and Lexi are endearing, in the sense that they remain dedicated to their friendship. Naturally, we root for them to reconnect. There are hints throughout that Anni seems to have a mystery about her background and that her best friend is an elemental or a girl with magical abilities. Obviously, these two factors creates a sense of intrigue. Also, in Abed’s favor, lies the eclectic cast she has created, which extends far beyond even the two girls. The problem is that just first there are so many of them that I often can’t distinguish one from the other. In addition, just like Abed’s plot twists, characters seem to come out of nowhere and have no reason for their existence except to be weird. Who is the man with the golden fingernails? What is the point of Leo the cat? For that matter, I’m not sure that I truly understand the significance of Whiffle, who most of the time is just a voice in Annie’s head.
Third, there’s the competent but lackluster style. Almost immediately, the style is what most puzzled me. When listening to tunes on the air, some will catch my attention, others will grate on my ears, and the rest will just be tunes. If I were to focus on one of the latter, often these songs will be sung well and written well. In other words, there will be nothing wrong with them. Except for some reason, they didn’t captivate me like the others. If I pay closer attention to them, I might end up rethinking how I feel about them. Or I might still just view them as just another song. With the case of Anni Moon, Abed has an entertaining enough style to provide many enjoyable moments. Unfortunately, it’s also forgettable enough that I won’t pick Anni Moon up for a second read.
Anni Moon has magical elements like Harry Potter, mysterious elements like Great Benedict Society, and even an abundant of weird elements like Alice in Wonderland. You might check it out, as author Melanie Abed does show talent, but also please do read the other stronger novels too.
My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.
How would you rate this book?