by Emma Mills
Published on October 4, 2016
by Henry Holt
Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 in love, 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's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.My take: I love character-driven realistic fiction, and would have to say that This Adventure Ends was one of the best YA examples I've read in some time. If you need a book to have plot, this one might not for you. I wasn't even sure why Sloane moved, but the story is just pretty much about her adjustment to a new school and her infatuation with a new group of friends.
If you're thinking, "that's it?" all I can say is that I was never bored. The characters are vivid, from Sloane to her father and younger sister to her memorable group of new friends. Witty dialogue abounds, and I find relationship dynamics to be endlessly fascinating.
The one thing that struck me as I read was that this book is so Green. Not the color, but John Green. When I reviewed Green's last book back in 2012, I ran down my list of all the elements in a classic Green YA:
1. Somewhat awkward, whip-smart main character.
2. Slightly madcap, larger-than-life girl character who is worshipped from afar by #1.
3. Witty, mental-whiplash-inducing dialogue that takes place between #1 and #2.
4. A quest.
Guys, This Adventure Ends scores a perfect 4 on my Green-o-Meter.
1. Sloane is definitely smart and awkward. (She's also outspoken.)
2. There's DEFINITELY a madcap, larger than life girl character: Vera. Here's how Sloane describes her:
"...it's not really her looks that do it, or her hair, or her makeup, because if you took all that away, there would still be something about her, some kind of magnetism."
"Vera commands attention wherever she goes, and if that means she has other people's, it also means she has mine."
3. Yes, to witty, mental-whiplash-inducing dialogue. Okay, this example is a bit off-color, but it made me laugh out loud in a waiting room:
"I was like the world's biggest dick to you."
"I thought bigger was better."
"I was like the world's smallest dick to you."
He shakes his head. "I was a smaller dick. I was a micropenis."
There are dozens of funny examples, from Sloane describing herself as "the yellow Starburst" of her friend group to the group's evocation of "penguin party." (I love that the author actually knows that many of today's high school students have fond memories of Club Penguin.)
4. The quest. I think in character-driven books like Green's or This Adventure Ends, the quest adds some structure. Will Hazel and Augustus manage to track down eccentric, reclusive Dutch author Peter Van Houtem? Will Quentin and his friends manage to find Margo Roth Spiegelman and make it back in time for graduation? Will Sloane ever track down The Dream? (Man, that painting really got around....)
I really, really enjoyed This Adventure Ends. It was funny and moving and featured a group of characters I loved spending time with. If you're a fan of character driven fiction, definitely check it out!
YA TRIVIA: In This Adventure Ends, Sloane's father is a writer of tearjerker romance novels (think The Notebook.) What other YA character has a father who writes similar books? First one to answer in comments wins :)