The final book in the James Mycroft and Rachel Watts series starts and draws much to a close on the family farm Five Mile. Deep in the Mallee / Wimmera area of Victoria, first up, Rachel uses a short visit back to try to repair the mental damage that events in the middle book (EVERY WORD) inflicted. Then again the area is the setting for a very different purpose as the series concludes. It's also a chance for her brother Mike to bring his best mate Harris Derwent back to the city with them.
Designated as Young Adult fiction, the "Every" series has always handled the ongoing romantic interest of these two teenagers (James and Rachel) well. The attraction, the slip into innocent relationship and the fractious nature of pairing up when there's a lot else going on in your life is part of the strength of these books. And logically the reader must know they are getting older, and therefore innocence will move aside. Their relationship must either move to the next level, or disintegrate. Which means a possible rival, or at least the presence of another boy / man is going to cause tension. And it does.
Given it's also the final book in the series, as expected, there is a lot of rounding up of the strays. The mysterious Mr Wild - he of the physical threat to Watts and Mycroft must be revealed, the cops must solve a few puzzles, Rachel's unspoken war with her mother over the trip to London in book 2 must be ironed out one way or the other, and everything needs to be ticked off before the end of the book. Which means that some of the plot twists aren't exactly going to be twists. Amongst many other things, it came as no surprise that there would be a bit of other boy temptation and some weakening of what are, after all, teenage knees and dare we say a bit of mild stretching of your definition of faithfulness. To be fair though, the play-out of the major threat, of drawing your quarry to the quarry (which this reader found funny), was pretty dramatic and the sort of action that you'd hope for.
As a standalone book EVERY MOVE won't work - this is a book for followers of the series, although I wouldn't be surprised if there's a few of those a bit disgruntled at the end of this one. Drawing to an end so many elements must be a tricky prospect for an author. It's not enough that there's a bit of mystery left to be sorted, but there's the issue of taking the relationship between the main characters up a notch. It goes somewhere that feels age-appropriate yet somehow a bit of a let down for some of us (maybe it's our fond longing or remembrance of young love's first bloom, and that sense of innocence).
Whilst things are closed off, this book does feel a lot more like it's addressing the romantic, rather than the mysterious. It feels like a lot less Sherlock and a lot more Twilight (or so I'm told - never read any of them) if you like. Which was mildly disappointing for this reader, what with a life-long preference for mystery reading over romance. It does feel like one of the major revelations - the identity of the threatening Mr Wild - lands in the middle of so much teenage angst that it feels flat and surprisingly unsurprising. Then everybody gets distracted by the play out of the love interest. But then things do have a habit of changing. People change. Times change. Teenagers grow up and tastes in reading subject matters change. Having said that, this reader won't be surprised if EVERY MOVE has some very mixed reactions. The strength of this series is not in the individual books however but the series as a whole. As crime fiction for Young Adults, these books are about a lot of things - teenage attraction, love, friendship, boundary stretching and family angst.