…or why I hated it.
In all honesty – I never finished it, it’s on the back burner, the first victim of my new philosophy (Life is too short and the reading list too long to waste time on bad books).
Not that it is entirely a bad book. My problem comes from the fact that I did not expect a YA book. Tolerant as I am of YA, I like my historical fiction all grown-up. Not to mention that after Diana Gabaldon’s luxuriously-detailed riveting storytelling and Kate Quinn’s superb Lady of the Eternal City, half a page of stiff chit-chat with a rabbi did not cut it as a legit scene for me.
Another faulty expectation – after the opening scene, when Cleopatra Selene is traveling to Rome, aged 16, I expected the retrospection of her childhood to be brief and the bulk of the story to unfold as she arrives in Rome. Instead she is a kid for half of the book, which would be fine if Vicky Alvear Schecter had written her as a kid. I had no problems with Kate Quinn’s Annia, even found her rather entertaining, and that in the company of thrilling million-dimensional characters like Hadrian and Vibia Sabina.
Cleopatra Selene acted out of character during most of the important events, making quite adult conclusions without any capacity (that the readers are aware of) to do so; and was boringly child-like for other scenes. What she thought and did was exactly what adults see and comprehend of children’s thoughts and actions. To a child the world is exciting and huge and scary – if we are given a POV of a child we should at least have a glimpse of such emotions, not wait patiently for that kiddo to.. well, stop being a kiddo.
The merits of Cleopatra’s Moon are lost on long-time historical fiction suckers like me, but it could spark the interest of teens and tweens with little knowledge of Ancient Rome and Egypt, and -hopefully – send them looking for the heavyweights.