ARC Review: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite MatineeRayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.

But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.

As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.

Warnings: mentions of suicidal ideation, physical violence

In the foreword, Jeff Zentner promised that this would be weighted more towards comedy than heavy topics; however, even with all that effort, it still is an emotional book that is about a friendship that has to bend to the passage of time, and how change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Josie and Delia run a TV horror show, which they both love and have made together and is a symbol of their friendship. However, with senior year ending, and Josie being asked by her parents to go for an internship in another city, both of them are worried about the future of their show, and themselves. They want to take their little show forward, but are also worried that it may not happen.

I must mention, in the start itself, that one failing of this book was the lack of distinct voices for Josie and Delia. Though they are quite close and often mistaken for sisters, they do have different personalities and I felt that didn’t come across so well in the writing. However, there was a point at the ending where it didn’t seem like such a drawback when there were two chapters that mirrored each other so well, paralleling in the emotions they evoked. Josie wants to be on TV, and her ambition cannot be fulfilled by the horror show and she wants to move ahead but also doesn’t want to leave Delia and the thing they built for an unknown future. Her character arc is about getting past that as well as letting go of things she felt sure about, and discovering what she wants to be dedicated to. Meanwhile, Delia has had a hard life, being a responsible adult like presence in her own house, taking care of her mother; while the both of them have depression (as well as her father who abandoned her), Delia is better than them at managing hers. However, her insecurity and fear of failure is rendered well in how she is written.

“Something in my chest feels like it’s pinching me. Drawing me into myself. Making me small inside.”

A major part of her arc is her getting closure from her father, for whom she had built the show. Lawson is a delightful addition, but the romance is obviously not an important part of the plot yet significant enough in Josie’s arc.

The highlight is, of course, Josie’s and Delia’s friendship: they are so in sync with each other and the other’s needs. They have a quirky humor they share that is infectious and hilarious to watch unfold, like when they address viewer letters (there will of course be letters on a show run by two teens, as in evident by the running joke) or when they are dissing misogynistic fools they meet in the wild. Josie is a bit more confrontational than Delia, though. Even when they have a disagreement, it is with a knowledge of what the other person wants and not out of a misunderstanding. And the possibility of them having to separate was heart-breaking because Zentner does a good job of endearing them in a reader’s heart.

“There’s something about witnessing something holy with someone you love, because you take that sacred thing and weave it, like a golden thread, into the fabric of your togetherness. Making something with someone you love is the same way.”

So, basically, while it is not as much a tear-jerker as his earlier books, Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee will definitely make you feel things.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Crown Books for Young Readers, via Edelweiss.

Is it diverse? mental health rep (depression)

Other books by this author

The Serpent King Goodbye Days

View all my reviews

Buy links

Amazon | The Book Depository | Wordery

Releases on February 26, 2019

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