Sadly lackluster and predictable
In Ivy Devlin's debut, LOW RED MOON, the story starts in a tragic place: seventeen-year-old Avery Hood has recently witnessed the gruesome murder of her parents, but she can't remember what happened. All she remembers is blood and a repeated flash of silver. Now living with her previously estranged grandmother, Avery tries to go back to school, but the students ignore or reject her, all except the new, mysterious Ben. Avery encounters Ben again and again, and despite their immediate connection, she must decide whether his supernatural origins point to the death of her parents.
Sadly, LOW RED MOON doesn't contribute anything new to this oversaturated genre. The romance, which forms the heart of the novel, felt flat and unbelievable. Like so many other paranormal male leads, Ben had no characteristics other than being beautiful and possibly dangerous. Avery came across as bland and without her own interests. Their relationship happens almost instantly and the intensity was never explained, though there were hints of supernatural bonding. Even with such intensity, the relationship felt empty, since its depiction focused heavily on their sexual chemistry and little else. Touches of character development, like when Avery and Ben talk about their parents' murders, were too brief and far between. Slow pacing and a lack of action also hindered the book in its first half, and the writing throughout felt forced with its repeated use of dashes and trailing sentences. The mythology had hints of originality, like Avery's connection to the forest, but it was never developed enough to make it interesting or convincing. Few side characters existed, and those that did were either ignored or not explored enough. The villain was predictable and none too threatening. Additionally, though I make it a point to not compare books to TWILIGHT, this book contained too many similarities to it to go unmentioned.
On the positive side, LOW RED MOON was a way to explore the voice of a popular contemporary YA author writing under her paranormal pseudonym. Checking in at about 250 pages, the book is shorter and more concise than most. Moments about Avery's grief and her reconciliation with her estranged grandmother were also sometimes stirring. The actual book itself is also beautiful, with splashes of red print and delicate details inside.
However, despite the beautiful layout and the potential for a moving examination of grief and recovery, LOW RED MOON failed to grab me. There are hints in the ending that a sequel will follow, and if so, I hope Devlin develops her characters more, expands her mythology, and provides Ben and Avery with a relationship built on more than instant attraction.
Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy.