My rating: 1 of 5 stars
What to say about Elissa Janine Hoole’s “Kiss the Morning Star”? It had all the promise in the world from the blurb. Road trip story, coming of age format, crazy adventures on the road and potentially meeting up with some colorful characters along the way. Yet it didn’t deliver for me at all. There were moments I could say that I liked, though not enough for me to give it above a single star. The vast majority of the book was a struggle to get through, and my attention kept wandering constantly for some fairly annoying factors that kept rearing their heads in the book’s duration. It’s a relatively short YA read, all things considered, but it took me far longer to get through than I expected. It’s unfortunate, because I could definitely see the merits in a story like this, but those factors really killed the reading experience for me – even considering it draws upon Jack Kerouac’s writings.
“Kiss the Morning Star” showcases the story of Anna and Katy, two teens taking on a road trip. Anna’s coping with quite a few issues, including the death of her mother from a house fire, her father’s increasing distance, and coping with aspects of her sexuality. But Anna is a fairly insufferable protagonist, and this is disheartening because she’s the narrator. When I wasn’t turned off by her (and ultimately the book’s) constant references to religion/non-religion and what turned her off about it, Anna was just crude to her friend Katy (who had too many versions of her name peppered into this book – the author should’ve just stuck with one so I didn’t end up confused.)
I found it really hard to get into the heads of the characters or the overarching story because of the way it was told. Anna’s unlikable for certain measures of her grief (which was palpable in spurts), but I felt it was told more than shown and the way that Anna lashes out often seems more than what it should be. Katy (Kat, Katherine, etc.) is more likable and friendly, and I saw aspects of her character that I liked, but I found it difficult to connect – again – because of the way the story was told. I did think Katy coming to terms with her own grief was worth seeing, and in spells, the dynamic between Katy and Anna was presented well (more in terms of their intimate moments). But I did not like the heavyhanded nature of the story and how slow the overall narrative was. This is coming from someone who loves slice of life fiction and can deal with randomness in plot points. But if you don’t have characters or situations to care about, it can be very hard to follow.
For those who enjoy coming of age road trip stories in YA fiction, it may be best to look elsewhere. Those who like Kerouac’s writing might find parts of this to enjoy, but for me it didn’t quite click.
Overall score: 1/5
Note: I recieved this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Marshall Cavendish.