Title: This Adventure Ends
Author: Emma Mills
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan)
“Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida―especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines―and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.”
Emma Mills is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I was so pleasantly surprised by her debut First & Then, which combined Friday Night Lights and Pride and Prejudice into a wonderfully heartfelt read. This Adventure Ends, her sophomore novel, takes all the best parts of First & Then – relationships of all forms, snappy dialogue, and a true-to-life cast – and creates an incredible story.
This Adventure Ends focuses on what I think is the most important part of being a young adult, and doesn’t get nearly as much focus as romance: friendship. While there is romance (and oh, it is very cute with lots of snarky moments), the real focus of this book is the intense love we all have for our friends, a love that is different than familial or romantic love, but just as important. Sloane joins a group of friends, and the bond between them becomes everything. The best way I can describe the friendships in This Adventure Ends is to quote one of my favorite books, Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: “they were all in love with one another…Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”
That’s the type of friendship at the heart of this book, and I absolutely loved it. Sloane struggles at times with this intensity, unsure if she’s really capable of being caring or even admitting that these people mean so much to her. There were so many moments while reading this book that caused me to think of my own friends from college, how we spent nearly every moment together (seriously, we took communal naps), and how they remain the most important people in my life. This Adventure Ends highlights the true importance of friendship, of a found family, and the love you share. I wish this theme was more prevalent in YA. So much focus is put on romance, which is fine and fun, but friends are infinitely more important than hooking up with the cute person in your class. Just saying.
I loved that the reader sees not only the overall group dynamic, but also each person’s relationships with the others. While the focus is of course on Sloane, you feel connected to Vera, Gabe, Remy, and Aubrey and what they’re going through. There were so many small moments between them that just made their friendships feel so real to the reader. Plus, Emma Mills gets all the gold stars for the Gilmore-Girls level banter and witty retorts throughout this book. They kept me on my toes, and giggling the whole time.
Sloane’s family was pretty interesting, especially her Nicholas Sparks-esque father who gets hooked on fanfiction for a Teen Wolf inspired TV show. Sloane as a protagonist was great, even though she is a bit distancing at times. She’s trying to figure out how to connect with people, and you really see her struggle at times with how to be a friend, or be affectionate. I definitely appreciated seeing that in her character.
The only thing that kept This Adventure Ends from being a 5-star read is that it lacked emotional depth. There’s a lot of potential, especially with Sloane’s dad’s apparent depression, and the fact that Vera and Gabe’s father is moving on after their mother’s death. But somehow Mills never strikes the right emotional chord for me to give this a full five stars. That being said, I am someone who likes a more than healthy dose of angst, so I wouldn’t let that comment dissuade you from reading this book. Grab your best friend and pick up This Adventure Ends on October 4th!
This Adventure Ends is the friendship love story I’ve been waiting for, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️.5 stars
*I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free & honest review.