Cinnamon Girl is a very fun, quirky, and easy to follow romance set in an Australian outback type town. The characters are interesting and author Keil liberally references the comic book industry – from Dark Horse to SHIELD – throughout (though one doesn’t need to be invested in the genre to enjoy the story). At its heart, it’s a sweet and captivating little romance that will steal your heart.
Story: Alba has only ever wanted to be a comic book artist. But with high school graduation approaching, she finds herself conflicted. Everything she has ever known and loved is right there in her small town – from best friend Grady to the smell of her mother’s apple strudels. But that wonderful moment in time is ruined when a cable-tv guru claims the end of the world is coming – and it is coming to Alba’s small town! When the masses converge, including a best friend who moved away years ago, it’s all going to come to a head for poor Alba. That is, as long as the world really doesn’t end.
The book has a personality all its own and really flows beautifully. The dialogue is snappy and there are many genuinely humorous moments. At its heart, this is the story of Alba and Grady’s relationship; the boy she has grown up with for most of her life. He is going to leave to begin studying to become a lawyer – possibly leaving her behind. As she contemplates that, the city is besieged by an array of outsiders – hippies, hipsters, religious nuts, etc. all waiting for the ‘glorious end.’ They will force some home truths about Alba and all she has ever thought she knew about Grady.
The title of the book comes from a comic character that Alba has been developing over the years – her alter ego in the mold of Wonder Woman. Chapter headings have drawings that may or may not have relevance to the chapter. But we did get a great idea of what Alba and her friends looked like from the illustration.
The best way to characterize this book is that it was a really fun read. Keil writes smoothly and life in a small Australian town was beautifully described. By the end, we are all rooting for Alba and Grady, even as we know it is very unlikely aliens are going to come and destroy the world and save only the people at the small town. It all makes for a very enjoyable and fast read with a great payoff at the end. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.