Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida – especially not a group of friends so intense, so layered with private tragedies and secret codes, and so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane has ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ laye mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility or tracking it down m a journey that crosses state lines – and pulls her ever deeper into the twins’ lives.
Filled with powerful and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romance, a sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I ADORED First and Then, Emma Mills’ first novel, so when This Adventure Ends was released I was determined to get my hands on a copy right away. That didn’t happen. Thanks in part to Amazon’s now ridiculously long postage times (I will not be forced onto Prime! First, out of principle and second because I can’t afford it anyways) and my copy getting lost and having to be resent… it took a couple months for it to finally arrive. This long anticipatory build up may have been to the book’s detriment.
This Adventure Ends is okay; a solid three and a half stars with engaging characters let down by a plot that felt rushed.
Mills is a character driven writer in the style of Sarah Dessen. This Adventure Ends is the story of Sloane’s life being turned upside down by a new group of friends she meets after defending one of them from a bully at a party. They are the kind of friends we all wish we had: Viv, an Instagram it-girl with a big heart, her twin brother Gabe, a noble defender of humanity, and Frank Sanger, the boy who knows where all the greatest parties are happening. Sloane falls in love with these people, believably if somewhat abruptly, and spends the rest of the book trying to prove her love by tracking down a painting by Gabe and Viv’s recently deceased mother that was accidentally sold. In secret.
Gabe, Viv and Frank Sanger leap off the page. Like Sloane, as the reader you really enjoy the opportunity to be in their orbit. They are kind, funny, fiercely loyal and loving toward one another in a way that lands straight in your heart. Plotting issues aside, these people really worked for me, and as in any good contemporary YA, I would like to join their friendship group now please.
The other most important relationship in Sloane’s life is with her dad, a famous author currently mired in a serious case of writers block. They are like sort of twin sounding boards for each other. Sloane goes to her dad with her big questions, and the answers feed back into his writing, whether Sloane wants them to or not. The key part of that being the not.
The whole Sloane’s dad storyline was actually one of my biggest frustrations with the book – it just didn’t go anywhere.
That was my criticism of the entire book, actually.
As in most contemporaries in this style, the entire novel was gearing up toward a big conflict between Sloane and the most important people in her life. This is usually a moment of catharsis, one in which all of the issues a character has can be brought out into the light so he or she can begin the process of healing. It didn’t really feel like that. It felt like an explosion that came from nowhere and went nowhere. The conflict – both the arguments she was having with her friends and with her dad – were just waved away like they didn’t happen. This was partly because they needn’t have happened.
The conflict didn’t feel earned, legitimate, or in some cases, consistent with the characters as we had known them up until that point.
It was disappointing.
Throughout the whole book I found myself wanting more: more development of characters, more information about certain situations – Sloane is concerned about the state of her parents’ marriage based on an exchange that is less than a page long and only referred to once in the entire book – and more back story to Sloane herself. She presents as a complex, quite emotionally closed off character, but those elements of her are never really explored. For much of the book I found myself wondering why.
All that aside, I found This Adventure Ends to be an enjoyable, if frustrating read. It’s slightly flat plot is saved by a cast of engaging, #friendshipgoals characters probably better suited for reading on the beach rather than on the train home, delirious after working a 12 hour shift.