18 May 2014

Review: The Moment Collector - Jodi Lynn Anderson

In Door County, a murderer is on the loose, and for Maggie, that's yet another thing to add to her list of excuses for not staying there. She and her family have just moved there from Chicago, and Maggie is worried about everything; a new job, gaining new friends, keeping herself occupied. Then she meets Pauline and Liam, and although they appear to be the town nutcases, Maggie keeps them close and things begin to look up. The funny thing about people being killed is that nothing ever stays good for long; fear and panic over the murders spread, and once more Maggie faces upheaval in her life. Meanwhile, a ghost watches over the three friends, knowing everything that will happen, watching and wishing things could change and that she could help...

Firstly, wow, this was quite an unexpected read. This book has such depth to it, and although I was engrossed soully on Maggie's story whilst reading, I've come to realise that she is a great person and a wonderful character. She really teaches the reader how to be human, and how to care even when you are hurting. This is such a powerful feeling now that I have finished the book, and her way of thinking is staying with me completely.

The narrative in the book switches between a third person account of Maggie (which sometimes feels more like a memory at the beginning, clever) and a first person account of the ghost. Although these two styles shouldn't mix usually, here it makes utter sense and you don't lose anything by switching between the two. The ghost lends an air of melancholy and loneliness while also letting the reader reflect on what is happening, and it also is a great way of foreshadowing events to lead the reader on.

On that point, the ghost was a really good character, and although it wasn't strictly neccessary, it still was an integral part of the story. The way that it was able to keep some distance and let us see the important, heart-wrenching moments through a dead person's eyes is really touching in a way you don't expect. So although this story does involve a ghost and scary elements, it is much more about the feelings and relationships that Maggie herself goes through.

Maggie, Pauline and Liam are some of the best-characterised protagonists I've read in a long time, especially considering that this is quite a short book. Not one of them was boring; they had their individual traits and quirks, and you could really understand how each of them felt. I loved how their relationships played out, and how Anderson captured the reality of a strain in a relationship, where we would try to avoid eachother. This is a perfect example of how well the author has captured the human element that we connect with in the story.

One thing that didn't sit well with me was the editing, or lack of. The thing is, I am unsure whether some of the loss of capitalisation was because it hasn't been edited out yet or because it was meant to be that way. So, if it is meant to be that way, please make it more obvious, or leave it to the chapter titles only. If it isn't, please get someone to fix that. I can handle the odd typo, but what I can't handle is a multitude of capitalisation errors. I think there's something wrong with the way speech was dealt with, too. Like you don't know entirely who is talking all the time. Anyway, these are easy errors to fix, so it's not a huge deal to me.

A mournful but beautiful read, the story has this impending sense of doom that actually manages to surprise you when you realise how it comes about. It is a very realistic-feeling book, being both happy and sad, but revelling in every part of life nevertheless. it tells the reader to find joy in the simplest moments and the smallest acts of kindness. Therefore it gets a 9 out of 10.

The Moment Collector on Goodreads
Otherwise known as The Vanishing Season.