Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.
Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.
In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.
To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.
Serious Moonlight is a really hard book for me to review. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. It started with my having a hard time getting into the story and connecting with the main character, Birdie. I didn’t liker her all that much in the beginning. Birdie was big on avoidance and self-centered. Both are understandable teenage traits, it was just hard to for me to read about over and over again. Plus, it took a longer time that I expected for Birdie and Daniel to connect and get the story really going. I didn’t feel connected to Birdie, Daniel, or the story until about half way through.
Why didn’t connect as quickly as I would have liked? I’m going to blame it on the setting of Seattle. I can tell from both this book and her author’s note that Jenn Bennett has a big love for the city of Seattle. I love that, but Seattle was a character and not a setting in this book. Serious Moonlight felt more like a random tour through Seattle than a story set there. I feel qualified to say this since I have lived in a suburb in between Seattle and Tacoma pretty much my entire life. It’s not that I don’t like reading about the Space Needle, Benaroya Hall, or Safeco Field (which no one in Seattle calls “the Safe” other than the newscasters and is now T-Mobile Park). I do. It just felt like there was a lot of name dropping of sites that took away from what was actually happening. 18 year-old Bridie, who was supposed to be sheltered and lived on Bainbridge Island, knew a lot more about the hidden parts of Seattle than I knew at that age. I also had issue with Birdie referencing something like June Gloom. I don’t ever remembering hearing that term before. I had to Google it to make sure it was a thing. Washingtonians don’t talk about June Gloom. We just know that the rain and cloudy weather starts the end of October and we don’t expect sun until after the Fourth of July. Maybe someone with less Seattle knowledge wouldn’t be as bothered by it all as I was. (I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. I have read reviews by other people who have lived in WA, and they felt the same about some of this stuff.)
I started connecting more with the characters and their story when they started connecting. When Birdie stopped avoiding Daniel and they developed a friendship, I became interested. It’s then that I found the mystery they were on the quest to solve interesting. It was then that I started caring about Birdie and her narcolepsy, Daniel and his secrets, Birdie’s relationships with Mona… I could go on and on. Everything interested me after that. I ended up enjoying the second half of the book rather than wanting to abandon it. I’m happy I stuck with it and kept reading because there were a lot of good things in it.
Would I recommend reading Serious Moonlight? Yes. It wasn’t my favorite Jenn Bennett book, but there is a story worth reading in its pages.