Book Review: Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee
In this contemporary YA novel by Jeff Zentner, best friends Delia and Josie become Delilah and Rayne and host a public access TV show, Midnite Matinee, about so-bad-they’re-amazing horror movies. While the show is steadily growing in popularity, the two girls are in their senior year of high school and facing some life-changing decisions. Josie struggles with the weight of her parents’ expectations and her own ambitions, and she must decide between continuing to grow Midnite Matinee or going to college and interning at the Food Network. However, when she begins to fall for Lawson—an adorable, pancake-loving MMA fighter—her choice becomes even more excruciating.
Meanwhile, Delia clings to their TV show as her last, tenuous connection to her dad, who left her and her mother when she was just a child but who used to bond with Delia over their shared love of horror movies. Delia is convinced that if their show goes viral, her dad will see it and come back to her. So when Delia a) manages to track down her father’s new address and b) sets up a meeting with Divine, a horror legend that could increase their show’s exposure, she convinces Josie to make a special road trip with her. One that could either solve all of their problems, or one that could just make everything that much worse . . .
Due to the aforementioned love for cheesy horror movies, I think my rating of this book might be a tad bit biased. I toggled back and forth on how to review this book, because while I loved everything about the setup, the second half of the book seemed to lose momentum for me, and the ending left me feeling more “meh” than anything else. But, on the other hand, Zentner is an incredibly funny dude, so even when I wasn’t fully loving the plot, I was still enjoying myself.
To me, the tiebreaker for this book would have to go to the characters, both of whom I really enjoyed in different ways. I’ve read a few different reviews for this book, and what surprised me was that while most people love Delia, more than a couple people didn’t like Josie—my favorite character. Don’t get me wrong, I empathized a lot with Delia—she’s a girl struggling with the feeling that everyone will always end up leaving her, and her emotions were raw and real. But at the same time, I thought Josie was spunky, bold, and downright hilarious. Of course, she’s also arrogant and has her share of flaws—but nobody is perfect, and Josie is a good reflection of that. I think a solid glimpse of her character can be summed up in this little sisterly interlude:
“I kick Alexis under the table. ‘Dude, seriously. You’re basically a stack of rats standing on each other’s shoulders and wearing a hoodie and sweatpants.’ She mewls in protest (sounding not unlike a stepped-on rat, if I’m being honest). ‘We’ve warned you several times specifically about comparing Alexis to a stack of rats in human clothing,’ Mom says.” (134)
Is Josie always the nicest, sweetest person? No. Do you want to listen to her insults and jabs forever? Please. And I think that, for me, about summarizes my feelings on this book—sure, the plot in the second half fell a little flat for me personally, but at the end of the book, I wanted to keep turning the pages, and I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s a book worth reading.