I now understand why it took me so long to read Every Move. Because now that it’s over, there’s no more Watts and no more Mycroft. And that breaks my heart.
If you haven’t read the other books in the Every series, I suggest you do so immediately. And not just so this review will make sense. But because this series is Aussie YA – no, scratch that, – YA at its finest. I honestly don’t know where to start. There are so many wonderful elements to this story that I want to talk about them all at once, because they all deserve top billing.
Once again, I have to give kudos to Ellie Marney for her romantic tension. Watts and Mycroft have come a long way from when they were just neighbours. Most importantly, partway through the book they became Rachel and James. They shucked the last name gimmicky thing and became more genuine with each other. Watts discovered the power of James’ first name earlier in the series. But it became simply that they became themselves, not themselves with a Conan Doyle tinge. I don’t know if I’m explaining this right. Long story short, I think the change in names shows a maturity to the Watts/Mycroft relationship that will help them to last beyond the final page.
“What are you talking about, Bec, these guys are fictional!”
I do know that. But all of these characters are so fundamentally human that I can’t just see and hear them, but I can almost feel them. As though they were a physical presence just hovering in the corner of my eye as I read. Marney has crafted a cast of characters so exquisitely human that they feel 100% real. As in, I could almost believe that if I went wandering through Melbourne, there’s a slight chance I could run into any of these guys.
I think it stems from their fallibility. Watts and Mycroft are only teenagers. They go through all of this traumatic stuff, but they are only teenagers. Every Move opens with these two dealing with the aftermath of their misadventures (read: horrific and traumatic experiences) in London. Mycroft disappears into his head while Watts struggles with night terrors and being able to be hugged. Not to mention her rehab from her physical injuries. These two aren’t the battle weary Shadowhunters of The Mortal Instruments, nor are they the survivors of the Hunger Games. They are two regular teenagers who have had to deal with extraordinary circumstances and they’re coping the best way that they know how.
There’s a lot of crying in this book. Ordinarily this would feel…self-indulgant to me. But in the case of Watts and Mycroft, it’s just right. How would any of us react if we’d been held captive in a foreign country as we were beaten for information we didn’t have? I think Watts and Mycroft did just fine.
I like Harris’ character. But his introduction, to me, wasn’t “just another YA love triangle”. It showed so many things. Like how deeply Watts loved Mycroft, her inexperience with romance, and how self-deprecating she is. She never once toyed with Harris or felt even a flutter for him. And so I think the introduction of Harris was simply a way to bring Watts’ past into her present, as Harris is her brother’s childhood friend from Five Mile. Plus, Harris’ presence in the story offered a way to deepen the Watts/Mycroft relationship without too many cheesy speeches. Marney also does this wonderfully clever thing where she shows the accidental prejudice that can come from small towns through Harris’ character:
Harris takes a long gulp of his lemon-and-vodka and tips the bottle neck towards Gus. “Where’re you from, mate?”
Gus gives him a dry look in the rear-view. “North Brunswick.”
I’d laugh, but I’m too squashed. And I’m sure this won’t be Harris’s last conversational faux pas in Melbourne. Five Mile is not a multiracial melting pot, by any stretch of the imagination. This is probably the first time Harris has ever met a Sudanese guy.
Harris doesn’t mean anything by this at all. He’s not being cruel in any way. He is genuinely curious and wants to know more about Gus, someone whose culture he hasn’t had much experience with. I think this was a lovely detail about what people from differing cultural backgrounds must experience on a daily basis. If not daily, then on an every-other-daily basis. As a Caucasian female, I don’t want to presume anything. I just felt like this was a nice touch. Because a lot of people in my hometown were just as unfamiliar with other cultures and often asked this seemingly innocuous question.
We can’t forget that Every Move is more than a love story, though. It’s YA crime. And Marney deals with the gritty and gory nature of crime in such detail that I felt physically unnerved. In the aftermath of London, Watts and Mycroft find themselves receiving threats from the mysterious “Mr. Wild”. But these threats are so grotesquely cunning that I felt a shiver up my spine each time a new one was introduced. I do not want to spoil this, because this is something Marney needs to tell you for the first time, not me. But you may want to read those scenes in the light of day.
Marney also deals with the dark side of everyday life very well. We find out that Harris had been physically abused by his father for most of his life. This isn’t dramatised. Marney simply states this and that is more than enough to horrify us. Understated drama is the most effective. Or so my old BFA lecturers used to tell me. There is no showdown between Harris and his father. He’s this shadow that seems to hover just over Harris’ shoulder. And that is beyond threatening enough.
I loved this series. I loved everything about it, and I am so sad that it’s over now. This trilogy is the epitome of what YA can be. It has everything: love, friendship, humour, mystery, family drama, bad guys. There’s not one negative thing I can say. So I’ll just say this: