The Moment Collector

20658345Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves:  fantasy-pr-everything-untoward, recipe-for-awesomesauce, more-please, cried-like-onions-hate-my-guts

We could have set the world on fire, too, if we’d been friends. But we never were.

The Moment Collector, to be alternately published as The Vanishing Season(which I don’t think is as suitable a title), is a book that entirely clashes with whatever expectations one might have. It isn’t what it seems.

The Moment Collector isn’t a paranormal story because the ghost is an observer, for a long while until she isn’t. She has no wrongs to right, guilt to assuage, vengeance to be had. At least, far as she can remember. You wouldn’t think it’s her story.

The Moment Collector isn’t a thriller, or a mystery, for the story passively tells as the killer kills, girls drown. There is no investigation, no engagement on the part of the characters. You wouldn’t find it in this story.

The Moment Collector isn’t completely a contemporary story, despite what you may expect, conclusions drawn by elimination because it hasn’t the requisite angst, or enough passion, disregard, learning and everything else that wholly is the drive behind such a story. You might discover those elements along the way in this story, but in minuscule quantities.

In the end, this story is a mixture of it all, ghostly and lonely and bittersweet and anticipatory; in fact, it is much better for that. Perfect as it is, maintaining an equilibrium amongst all its components. Diving in, I must warn you, you would spend a lot of time expecting, chin up, nose poking sniffing-like, mouth parted. It’s the tone of the story and the unassumingly simple story playing that gives way for anticipation and waiting. And it might not come. Whatever you’re thinking, it won’t be that. Best of all, I don’t think that makes one lick of a difference because you’ll end up immersed in this story yet sadly, by the sentence you figure out that you don’t want more, it’ll be too late. This book isn’t even 300 pages, you see, and the font size certainly doesn’t require a magnifying glass.

But there was a sense of waiting, too. There was a feeling that they were in a bubble…

In the end, it’s Maggie’s story- and Pauline’s, and Liam’s. Simple as that.

I was vacillating between three and fours stars, and decided to lean towards the latter because this book lingers on in my mind, and the snowy seasons might soon take up residence there. Why are books[see: The Snow Child and The Whole Stupid Way We Are] written in snowy fields so much more hauntingly beautiful than everything else?

Maggie, the new girl in town, is the protagonist of this story, with her delusions of grandeur and invincibility. She’s a mature character, her personality sharpened by the economic conditions, but I don’t think it can be entirely dismissed that she was just such a person. A person who plans down to the last detail, now a teenager trying not to show her bitterness as her parents strive to indulge, or at least provide for her.

…that didn’t stop it from breaking her heart, for all the things her parents wanted to give her and couldn’t.

Soon enough, she finds immediate friends in Pauline and Liam, the guy she falls for and who in turn loves Pauline, has for a long while. It’s a triangle, heartbreaking, believable and one so hard to find a fault in; you don’t who to root for, there’s no one to despise, there’s nothing banal about it. There’s nothing banal about this story.

It felt like they were taking a town that was lost in the dark and lighting it up.

Pauline, for her part, is a bright, vivacious, flighty girl; inside, you can see, instead that she is lost and sad and hopeless. Despite everything, she can bring out a smile. Despite what others see, she’s imperfect and so, so wrong.

Maggie smiled, thinking how Pauline only kept track of the good things.

And we have shy, silent, blushing Liam, the kind of guy who would spend his summer building a sauna for a girl; the one-girl kind of guy how will always, every time make something out of scratch, things so beyond spectacular for you.

You found a way to bring summer to January.

What I love is that these characters, we have all met and hated and been bored by them in other stories; they used to adhere to their stereotypes, matching action for every conceivable meaning that could be divulged from their laconic descriptions in which their whole personalities were fit. But these teenagers, they are all faulty, wrong, cheaters, and capable of things we deem bad and good. Because in life you can’t hate someone for one action; it’s the cumulative that forms a person, and even that’s ever-changing.

And above all else, I loved the complexity of the relationships, so grave and deep and etched into their bones. The love triangle was one of my favorite aspects of the book, that separates The Moment Collector from majority of young adult romances. Moreover, absolutely fascinating was the development of Maggie, how everything, how one month can change someone in authentic ways. And that is part of what makes the whole book so poignant and harrowing.

Friendship and love are important themes in this novel, behind the whole facade of it-not-being-what-it-is, ans slowly, surely I was sucked into it. It’s a breathtaking piece of work of all the things right and wrong and horribly in between, when it comes to life in general. Killings and small-town prejudice and hating your best-friends and the hurt constantly shoved deeper; all the things people can and will and shouldn’t and must do. The strength of friendship, that can often falter.

Despite the lack of plot and slow pacing, this is a stark, bittersweet story. With emphasis on bitter. Jodi Lynn Anderson has written a tragically honest and brutal story about a girl who, in ordinary circumstances, would have been a side character to remember fondly once the story is finished. If I were someone in the story, some observer, say Elsa, Maggie wouldn’t be the protagonist. But this is her story, where she believes in her own invincibility and has delusions of grandeur, in spite of that she might be infallible as, say, Erica, as every girl who ever disappeared. That is our tragedy believing in stories that started the moment we were conceived yet waiting, watching for the year when we break out, away.

Maggie wondered if this was how the real part of life started, with everything going slightly tilted and making you feel like things were rising in you, like ripples and waves.

Overlooking all the factoids and articles and missing persons.

I’ve read articles, I’ve seen it in magazines: it’s dangerous to be young.

But I think that erroneous though it might be, this cloak provides for some of out best memories, relationships, happiness. And I’d personally like to go on believing I’m invincible, for a while at least, contrary to all that happens around me, and to me. A lot of things would be impossible, unachievable if we let go of that.

…to know the things we want are bigger than what we get, and as deep as outer space.

The ending is a powerful one, packing a punch. But the story doesn’t hinge on the conclusion; it made me cry before eternally depressing me, and afterwards as well. However different the outcome might have been, the story would still be as lush, beautiful, provoking. But of course the ending played a great part, and it mustn’t be discounted, much as I’d like to, for it ties everything together, in inexplicable, surprising, realistic ways. During that last chapter, I was fucking bawling.

Love can’t be taken back once it’s given.

The prose is subtle yet sublime and wonderful; ordinary words, everyday moments that speak so much. Besides Maggie’s story, there’s a narrative from a third person, the ghost, that builds up dread and morbidity. Anderson’s storytelling flows naturally that you don’t even realized how entangled you are. And a whole lotta times, it’s plain beautiful, no explanations required:

Here is a moment that sparkles hard like a diamond.

There was one time, however, that I could make no sense of it. Since it was that sole paragraph, I thought it imperative to mention.

If I could show you the lives of the people below me – the colors of what they all feel heading into this chilling, late Fall – they’d be green and purple and red, leaking out through the roofs, making invisible tracks down the roads.

I can imagine this, it’s lovely, but I’d like to know what the fuck the colors signify. What does purple even mean? Without context, without ay factoid about the populace and the general emotion caused by circumstances(maybe winter, maybe the killings), it’s meaningless.

Strangely enough, despite the lack of pacing, The Moment Collector keeps you engaged on every level, in every element, be it the identity of the killer, the ghost or the outcome of all this heartbreak. It would be incomplete, dangling had it been lacking even one of these.

I love these humane characters, I love this story and forever more will do. There are reasons this book resonated with me, deeply, but without that, I’d love it still. There. So much love. sigh…….

I don’t many people will like the kind of tragic beauty the book has to offer; many will be turned away by the slow progression, by the contrast between the tale and its misleading blurb and the way it is being projected into the masses. But others will love it. I sure do hope so.

It’s a crescendo. It’s tragic. Because I know what it means. It means we are – I am – a piece of the past…
This is no place for anyone with a heart.

View Spoiler

I hate winter. Except I sincerely believe I was made for it-it’s barely even summer and I’m already mutating. Plus, winter brings out the worst and best in me. Like, right fucking now because it’s so cold in the room, I’m probably going to be extra kind on the brother from my own mother. He’ll be surprised, so he will. 😛

So there, that’s all I have to say in my present state of a blubbering mess.

Thank you Hachette Children’s Books!



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