Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Reviewed by Noelle: May 18, 2012
Published May 4, 2010 by Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
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I've read enough YA road trip themed books lately to consider myself a bit of an expert on the subject.  In fact I've noticed that there are a set of rules for the Road Trip Novel--rules that if followed can overcome the cliches to make something truly special.  Rules that if ignored can bring down the whole book.

First things first, a Road Trip Novel needs a believable reason for a teenager to drive across the country with a complete (but extremely hot, natch) stranger.  The catalyst for the road trip can be the hardest part to pull off.  Do it successfully and the readers are in for the ride and more willing to overlook the plot contrivances that make up the genre.  Do it wrong and the reader wants to turn the car back around and go home.

Often times the catalyst is a life-changing event: a death in the family, leaving for college,  a leisurely grand tour of Midwest tourist traps on the way to see if your kinda sorta friend was actually kidnapped or just ran away.  Ahem. Like I said, some options work better than others.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour follows the first option.  After the death of her father, Amy's family scatters across the country.  Her brother gets shipped off to rehab, her mom takes a new job in Connecticut and Amy is all set to join her after school lets out for the summer.  There's only one problem: Amy's mom needs her to drive the family car from California to Connecticut and Amy doesn't drive anymore--not since the accident.

Enter Roger, childhood neighbor home from college and en route to Philadelphia to spend the summer with his dad.  And whaddya know? Roger has the requisite valid drivers license, stacked iPod and boyish good looks mandatory for the job.

Rather than follow the itinerary and booked hotel rooms set out by Amy's mother, both Amy and Roger agree for personal reasons (hers involving visiting landmarks relevant to her dad and his involving visiting landmarks relevant to his inability to get over his ex-girlfriend) to ditch the plan and go out on a detour neither will forget.

The second key to the success of a Road Trip Novel revolves around the three C's: cuteness, (plot) contrivance and cliches.  For one to be a success, the first C has to outweigh the last two and for the most part Amy and Roger's Epic Detour does just that.  It is undeniably cute.  I finished it with a big ol' smile on my face....and then I sat down a few days later to write a review and instead of all the cuteness, reality kept butting in with questions like:
  • What grade felony is it to transport a minor over state lines without the permission of her guardian?
  • Do Jeep Liberties have THE best gas mileage of all time?
  • Why why why would you pick Krystals over BBQ in Memphis? 
  • Doesn't Matson realize you cannot "sip" a Dairy Queen Blizzard without either the use of a microwave or bursting all the blood vessels in your eyes? (This came up in the middle of a pivotal (MAKEOUT) scene and I swear I heard the record scratch sound effect in my head. I couldn't get over it.  Ask Maggie about enduring my five paragraph email ode to Blizzards.)
But while some of the details didn't hold up under cross examination and when you actually list out all the cliches (honeymoon suite! makeover! sharing a single bed!) they seem a little much, Matson totally nailed the feelings behind a Road Trip Novel.  The strange conversations around mile 750 feeling.  The only you and I saw that happen feeling.  The camaraderie.  The food.  The MUSIC.  (That's a link to all of Roger's playlists compiled into one Grooveshark list---before I realized there was already one on Spotify. Yay productivity circling the drain!)

In the end, Amy and Roger are just too likable and Matson's writing is just too charming to ignore. And that's why, while the book is predictable and pretty generic in it's choices, it is still a heckuva lot of FUN.  Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

15 comments:

  1. Didn't you tell me that you also used to work at a Dairy Queen? That was my first job, and let me tell you...those Blizzards CANNOT be sipped. We used to have to hold them upside down for the customers before handing them over, just to prove how solid they were. Unless something INSANE has happened to Blizzards in the past sixteen years, that sentence is a travesty! ;)

    Great review today Noelle! I laughed at so many parts.

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    1. It was Wendy's haha I was probably talking about Frostys with you! I'm guessing we still had a 15 minute convo about Dairy Queen anyway when you told me that :D. I don't play when it comes to ice cream! --N

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  2. LOL Tiny plot holes annoy the shit out of me too. I pretty much agree with everything you say about this.
    Liked the writing, but the flashbacks slowed everything down a bit too much. And Roger was a bit dull.
    Oh and food. Loved all the food references. FOOD :)

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    1. Oh you are so right about the flashbacks, Anna! Especially since you're pretty much able to figure out what they'll be about beforehand anyway.

      Hehe, poor Rog. I did enjoy that it was the guy hung up on the ex for once I'll give him that. Also: FOOD. Forever and ever, amen :D --N

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  3. I loved this one! The cuteness won me over so the cheesiness didn't bother me so much.
    I don't really need to see any more proof that hot guys still look hot with classes... but I wouldn't be opposed ;)

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    1. I was definitely in the mood to be generous too Belle! Oh what is that. You need more examples. WELL TWIST MY ARM. (see edit in post just for you Belle. Just. for. you. :D) --N

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  4. Haha, Noelle, I love this review. I'm not sure whether I could deal with this one because eventhough it does sound cute, I think I'm the only person in the YA-niverse that doesn't like road trips.

    But I like boys with stacked iPods. HOT BOYS.

    DECISIONS.

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    1. Like actual road trips Jo or reading about road trips? Both are hit or miss for me too. I defnitely have to be in the mood. Coincidentally I'm always in the mood for hot boys with stacked iPods. Funny how that works :D --N

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  5. Ohh, all the rules were respected, and there was an ex-girlfriend in the picture? Talk about overkill!
    My absolute favorite road trip book was Saving June. It follows the same pattern, but it has more heart than the others I've read, though admittedly, I haven't read that many. Lisa agrees, and she's somewhat of an expert, like you.
    In any case, her rating was even lower than yours, so I think I'll pass.
    Great review, Noelle!

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    1. Haha Maja I think you might throw things if you read this one! It definitely hits all the road trip cliche checklists. I keep hearing about Saving June so I'm going to definitely check that one out. Thanks girl! --N

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  6. i think that's pretty much how i felt. yeah it was predictable but at the same time i enjoyed things like the lists and the music that was incorporated into the novel. i think it was around three stars for me too .

    i am curious about her new book. i hear it's a tearjerker! :)

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    1. Thanks Aly! I hear that too. I have it waiting for me on my shelf so I will let you know! --N

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  7. I got a bit distracted when you mentioned Matt Bomer and then even more so when I realised Wilson is from Hart of Dixie, he looks even better WITH glasses *sigh*

    Anyhoo, back to your review! This was a lot of fun, Noelle, and while I have no idea about Blizzards/Dairy Queen, little things like that bug me too! Overall this sounds very cute and I like very cute books!

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    1. Matt Bomer......drool. Have you ever seen Generation Kill? You would lol at the contrast between Wade and Wilson's character on that mini-series. Still majorly hot though, not gonna lie. Those abs. AND glasses? UNFAIR. :D --N

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  8. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

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