Author: Jeff Zentner
Published: February 26th, 2019 by Crown Books for Young Readers
Genres: young adult, contemporary, realistic fiction
Format: eARC, 400 pages
A contemporary novel about two best friends who must make tough decisions about their futures – and the TV show they host – in their senior year of high school.
Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.
But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show's guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.
Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he'll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.
As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous...and momentous.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you!) in exchange for my honest review.
Some of my contemporary picks at the end of 2018 were a tad disappointing, so I was beyond relieved when this book – that I decided to take a leap of faith with and request on NetGalley – was a super-fantastic-delightful gem infused with horror and banter and pancakes. Yes, pancakes~
Sometimes small and unspectacular things can be a universe.
Where do I begin with this book? Let’s start with the plot, shall we? Two high school best friends play wannabe horror hosts in their own public access TV show, Midnite Matinee. They make a great team, according to their accomplice, Arliss, because Delia kinda sucks at TV, but knows everything about horror, and Josie is pretty good at TV, but doesn’t know jack about horror movies. When the opportunity arises to take their show to the next level, they take a road trip to the ShiverCon horror convention in Florida to meet with Jack Divine, a popular ex-horror host.
Josie and Delia live in a small town in Tennessee. Delia lives in a trailer with her mom, who struggles with mental illness (more so after her father abandoned them). Delia watches all of the old horror VHS tapes her father left behind, and harbors fear that everyone she loves will end up leaving her (underlying rejection and depression). Confident and charismatic Josie, who lives with both of her parents, struggles with the dilemma of going to college out-of-state to pursue her dream of being on television, or going to college with Delia so that they can keep hosting their show.
Zentner gives us a strong cast of supporting characters as well: Moody, middle-aged Arliss, and MMA-fighting, pancake-loving, fantasy-reading Lawson Vargas. ? Josie and Lawson’s side-love-story didn’t overshadow the entire book, but it was juuuuust right, and gave me cutesy stomach butterflies. Not only do we get strong side characters and a small dose of romance, but we get mental health and poverty rep! And a dash of horror thrown into the mix. (Seriously, some of the movie titles Delia picks are just hilarious – i.e., Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.)
But Josie and Delia had an amazing dynamic together. The way the author wrote their interactions and dialogue gripped me so ferociously by the heart and by the funny bone! Jeff Zentner is the king of all analogies and witty banter. I literally could not get enough of his writing!
I highly recommend giving this one a read! You’ll be taken on an epic road trip with two best friends who try and find the answers to their questions: What comes next after high school? What’s going to happen to their show? Can friendship survive distance?
I’m glad things end, though. It forces you to love them ferociously while you have them.