(Jenn Bennett, 2018)
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?
What I Liked
- Unique setting
- I don’t know about you but I have not read a whole lot of books with a camp setting. I liked that this story felt unique and fresh because of it’s setting. Yes, we still had teenagers dealing with all the feelings, but the way they interacted with each other and their issues was different from anything I have ever read before.
- Main characters
- I liked that Bennett’s main characters ultimately came around on me when I least expected it. I didn’t particularly care for either of them at the start of the story, but by the end, I was rooting for them to work out. It felt very satisfying at the end to have gone through that emotional roller coaster with them, and see it to it’s end.
- Descriptive language
- Despite the slow start to this book, I think that Bennett does an amazing job with really infusing you into her world. I felt so close to Zorie and Lennon throughout that I might as well have been the third wheel to their adventure. I felt Zorie’s pain (though I personally would imagine more aches, pains and stiffness), I could hear the water rushing, the birds chirping. I felt real to me, and that is a hard thing to do as a writer, so I give Bennett a lot of props.
What I Disliked
- Slow start
- I had a hard time getting into this book at first. I wanted to read it but I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up. Once I got through the first couple of chapters, and ended up finally getting to the “glamping” grounds, it was smooth sailing from there.
- I have complained about this before, but I have a real problem with the way in which most YA parents are portrayed in these books. In this one in particular (I am going to be very vague because I don’t want to spoil anything) after a particular event where the parents of the camping teenagers come into some information…I don’t think they reacted realistically. My parents wouldn’t have “thought” about filing a report, they absolutely would have done so immediately, especially if they couldn’t get in contact with me. I also don’t think it is reasonable to assume that two laid back moms would be perfectly OK with their teenage son hiking/camping in the back country alone, but that’s just me. I also really hated how Zorie’s father treated her throughout the book. I think that the way he tried to control her, especially in terms of where Lennon is concerned, didn’t match what ultimately happens at the end. I know this is confusing because it is vague but if you’d like to discuss it, I am happy to do so in the comments.
In my First Impression of this book, I talked about how I really liked the question at the end of the description about whether their new friendship would stand up to reality. This led me to believe that the story took on more than just the camping element, but also followed the main characters in the aftermath, to see whether they were able to hold on to what they found in the woods. Personally, while the author does address life outside the woods, and catches up with the characters in the aftermath, I think she could have done a little bit more with it. Or at least that’s what the question at the end of the description led me to believe. She does tie a nice bow on the story, but I think I wanted just a little bit more from these characters before I closed the book. Also in my First Impression, I predicted a 3.5-4 star rating. I actually think that by the end I was a little closer to 4.5 but generally, it was in the same area.
I had real problems with this contemporary being realistic to me. I felt like a lot of the actions/reactions in this book (mainly the parents) did not fit what I would imagine them to be. I am also horrified that a group of teenagers would leave two of their friends in the woods and tell them to find their own way home. That being said, I couldn’t help but really enjoy the rest of this book. It was cute, and predictable and just a really great summer read.
The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman