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Posts Tagged ‘Anni Moon

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?

I guess you could say that I’ve been in love with stories from the moment my Grandmother started reading them to me, and I believe it was that love that inspired me to want to write as w­ell. So, actually I should thank my most wonderful, amazing Grandma, Myrtle, for her love of stories, too.

–Melanie Abed, Melanie Abed, Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact


In kindergarten, Melanie Abed had the life goal to become a teacher who wore only pink and ate French fries all day long. Now that she’s matured, her goal in life is to become a Miss Marple-Sherlockian-Jedi Knight. According to her About page, Abed is totally serious about this goal.

As an adult, Abed has had the privilege of working in Hollywood for over a decade in many different capacities. In this field, she worked with celebrities, directors (one of whom she married), and executives.

Now Abed has taken on the life of a full-time writer, a role she labels on her About page as “not for the faint of heart”. How, when, and where she writes depends on her current tasks. If she’s brainstorming, or working on outlines, Abed prefers energetic environments like coffee shops. She usually writes in the afternoon and evenings, tending to be more of a night owl. Abed tells One Writer’s Journey that she also enjoys writing “during rainy weather, somehow it helps narrow my focus too.”

Abed also keeps herself busy with my extracurricular activities. Some of those include skydiving, scuba diving, and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. On the calmer side, she’s also an avid gardener, and butterfly enthusiast. For several years, Abed has been growing butterfly gardens; this past year her husband and her raised 150 Monarch butterflies.


So long as I have a good writing system in place, and a few writing projects to constantly work on, I stay super busy. Daydreaming for me is a huge part of the writing process.

–Melanie Abed, Melanie Abed, Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact

While reading and researching Children’s Middle Grade literature from both the UK and the US for well over a decade, Abed explains to One Writer’s Journey, she fell for the stories made for this age range. She views them as containing messages of hope and highlighting bravery, courage, strong morals, and other admirable traits that “even adults need to be reminded of from time to time”. This decade of research also made her feel confident about attempting to put her own middle-grade novel into the world.

Anni Moon is her first published children’s work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Abed was published in a Medical Journal after completing my Master’s program in Psychology.

The main character has been floating around in Abed’s head for over a decade before she started writing about her. Growing up, Abed wanted to read a story about a tough spunky girl. Over the years, bits and pieces of the story were cobbled together after writing and rewriting the entire book a few times.

Before writing this story, the characters and the general concept came first, then Abed plotted and outlined. She knew Anni and Lexi’s characters almost instinctively, as well as being able to see Waterstone Academy. Abed tells One Writer’s Journey that, as a child, she lived in the Edgewater just like Anni does. She grew up imagining that there was a secret portal door to another world; “these early imaginings greatly influenced certain aspects of this story”.

The most challenging aspect of writing for Abed was balancing what the reader needs to know. In the case of Anni Moon, this refers particularly to the introduction of the Elemental fantasy world and the efforts to create an engaging plot that pushes the story forward.

Abed intentionally created an ethnically mixed cast of characters. Growing up in Chicago, Abed was surrounded by a group of children from different countries so when she started thinking about her cast it came naturally to emphasize their diversity.

I found of interest the answers to two questions asked Abed by One Writer’s Journey.

QUESTION: What was the toughest criticism given to you?

ANSWER: The toughest criticism came on my first novel, ten years ago, when I was told I needed to start over and write from scratch. That was very hard to hear at the time, but extremely necessary advice. That novel was awful, and needed a lot of work, but at the same time it taught me so much. Back then, I discovered that there are certain rules to writing, and some that are extremely necessary to employ in certain kinds of genres.

QUESTION: What was the biggest compliment?

ANSWER: I’ve been very fortunate to get some really lovely compliments on Anni Moon, lots of references to some of my favorite authors, which is so wonderful to hear, but truth be told I don’t let it go to my head. I think the most important thing about writing is shielding yourself from both positive and negative reviews and just focusing on the story at hand, because that’s what’s important.

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