Book Review #19: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I had never read anything by Robin Benway before I became obsessed with her Tumblr “The Songs that Saved Your Life.” Worth checking out for the music alone, but when I found a brief summary of “The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June” hidden in amongst the song discussion, I knew I had to take a look.

The premise was right up my alley, and though I didn’t fall in love quite as hard as I’d lead myself to believe, I still found plenty of things to enjoy about the story.

I have a sister myself, and I thought the sibling dynamics–the familial dynamics in general, really–were right on the money. The banter between April, May, and June before they develop their powers rang incredibly true, and watching them realize how much their abilities influence their relationships with each other was both hilarious and poignant. One of the things Benway captured so well was how quickly the three girls flitted from teasing, to arguing, to bonding, and back. Sibling relationships vary so much from family to family, but the best ones always remind you that being pissed off doesn’t last long when there’s someone who has your back.

The side characters here were equally entertaining, especially the quirky, not typically romantic leads. I loved that both the boys who enter the story are not necessarily the YA version of hot. It felt very realistic to me. At the same time, I would’ve liked to see a little more development within the story’s other sibling relationship. A better explanation for who or what the classmate was who sets off the collective powers of April, May, and June would’ve also been appreciated.

I think my biggest problem with this story, and the reason it earned a three star review instead of four, is that the stakes never felt high enough. We’re told throughout the story that April has a catastrophic vision of the future, and a large portion of what drives the girls through the plot involves trying to prevent these mysterious events from unfolding. It’s built up to be this massive, life-changing thing, and I suppose it could’ve been, but given how super powers are used in the story, I would’ve liked to see April, May, and June come up against a much bigger set of issues.

All in all a fun, quick read. Give it a shot if you’re more interested in personal drama and family dynamics than Avengers-style heroics.

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