There are a few things in this book that are a bit on the nose – for example, there’s a distinct Moon theme going on with a bunch of things and the main characters are Skye and Dawn. However, the deeper you get into the book, the more these things make sense. There are similar themes are Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz that are referenced via the names of things. At first I found it slightly annoying, but eventually it just seemed like a crazy meta commentary on how there are no truly original stories and everything is borrowing from the stories that came before it. So what starts off clunky ends up being much more seamless at the end.
I think my best praise for Mari Mancusi, however, is the plot twist that occurs in the book. While there seems to always be a clear bad guy, Mancusi does sow enough doubt that I found myself doubting my predictions about halfway through. But the twist at the end was great because it didn’t invalidate my prediction, rather it enhanced it and changed the meaning of everything that came before it. This is definitely a good exemplar for teaching writing students how to write twists in a way that won’t be annoying to the reader.