Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee by Jeff Zentner

  Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee by Jeff Zentner, Ember (an imprint of Random House), 9781524720230, c2019, 2020

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Paperback

Genre: Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book?  High school is almost over for Delia and Josie, best friends who co-host a late-night, local channel horror movie show as Delilah Darkwood and Rayne Ravenscroft (think Elvira with an even lower production budget.) Told in alternating first person, we get to know the girls and their families, problems and future plans through each other’s eyes. Delia lives in a mobile home, with a mom struggling with depression and an absent father. In fact, her dad’s love of obscure horror films is what fuels her interest; in her secret heart, she hopes he’ll stumble across the show. Meanwhile Josie, a manic, pixie dream girl,  is ambitious and college-bound in the fall, hoping for a career in television. Her story collides with a hot, MMA fighter named Lawson, which leads to an unanticipated summer romance. The best part of the book is the banter (some face-to-face and some via text) between the two girls. They constantly finish each other’s thoughts and sentences in a way that rings true for anyone who’s been lucky enough to have a bestie in high school. I liked that the friendship between the two main characters was balanced with Josie and Lawson’s growing connection; both received equal air time. All characters are presumed white.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Dialogue is Zentner’s strength and the book suffers whenever the plot rears its head. From the beginning, I was confused about what time of year it was, why there seemed to be no school work or functions at all, why Josie’s family had permitted her to accept offers from two competing universities, whether a local TV station would be able to play all these low-budget films without royalties or previewing…the list goes on. By the end of the book, when the girls embark on a crazy road trip to a horror convention, I was shrugging my shoulders at the book’s lack of concern for authenticity or even reality. I understand that YA is often wish-fulfillment, but the lack of concern for details interfered with my ability to enjoy the ride. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Readers looking for a giddy friendship story with a unique focus on schlock movies.

Who should buy this book? High schools or public libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: April 14, 2020



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