Review: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

For fans of late night horror films, the cheesier the better, Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee reaches out to embrace you. Two best friends who highlight a different oldie-but-“goodie” horror film each Saturday night on public access television, Josie (Rayne) and Delia (Delilah) bond over these films and the friendship that blossomed because of them. However, now with graduation approaching, family problems growing larger by the minute, and personal relationships becoming something of a quagmire, will their Televison Six show be enough to hold them together or is the future too tenuous?

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Published: 26 February 2019

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary

From the Morris Award-winning author of The Serpent King comes a contemporary novel about two best friends who must make tough decisions about their futures–and the TV show they host–in their senior year of high school.

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.

But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.

As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.

Rating: 3 Stars

Rep: depression

I wasn’t really aware that horror hosting was a thing before Rayne & Delilah. Sure I’d heard of Elvira, but beyond that not so much. So the concept was super interesting, adding to the fact that I love horror movies and I don’t get to indulge in them as much as I’d like because I don’t have anyone in my immediate real life to share them with.

I wasn’t thrilled with the execution of the story, though.

It may have had something to do with so much of the opening having to do with Josie & Delia filming an episode of their show Midnite Matinee, but even once the action moved  past the filming it still felt kinda flat. The voices of the main characters were very similar, like if they were changed Delia and Josie’s voices would be indistinct. There was even a point where, in a Josie chapter, this was highlighted by a p.o.v. signifier being wrong with no notice being given. I don’t think it happened more than once in the rest of the book, but it strengthened my problem with Josie & Delia’s voices being too alike.

Once they were apart and talking to others, it was easier to see Delia and Josie opening up into their own persons. As a reader it became a better experience and there was more opportunity to enjoy their interactions, conversations, and internal thoughts.

Some of the other issues that I had, even with these improvements, included the distinct lack of communication between Josie and Delia. Their friendship felt a bit unbalanced because of this, especially when thinking about Josie’s dream of being on television (as unrelated to horror hosting) or Delia’s attachment to Midnite Matinee and staying in their town.

Delia was complicated, messy, interesting. She had a lot going on, such as searching for the father that abandoned her and her mother ten years prior to the start of the book; her mental health (depression) as well as that of her mother (also depression); the stability and possibility of Midnite Matinee, the only sort-of link she has to her father. There were difficult times, what Delia referred to as dark days, whether for her or her mother. On some level I was able to see why why Delia didn’t want Josie to go to Knoxville for college, for the internship. Her sick mother & abandonment issues, her best friend & the Midnite Matinee are vital parts of her identity. Without them, who is Delia? That’s the question she struggles with throughout Rayne & Delilah, even as she’s asking questions like what’s wrong with her or why don’t people stay with her if nothing is actually wrong?

Josie was something else. After much of the book, I found myself really wondering: who was she? Reading the book, we know she wants to be on t.v., wants her own show, but other than that and Midnite Matinee, who is she? What does she like? There are some Netflix titles dropped that she watches away from Delia, but her individuality seems almost non-existent until Lawson showed up.

Lawson, who is ostensibly a side character, had more dimensions than she did. He was a MMA fighter, he enjoys reading fantasy novels, he even gets into a bit of horror hosting because of Josie. It felt like there was more thought put into his dream track of being a professional MMA fighter than Josie’s television industry person. As much as I liked Lawson, this feels like a failing of Josie, one of the main (titular!) characters. It would have been nice to get a better idea of her personality, heck, even more depth of her t.v. aspirations.

This wasn’t a terribly written book, but there was an overwhelmingly feeling of “meh” when I was finished and looking for a word to describe how I felt about Midnite Matinee. It could be enjoyable, but I think it’s just under the border of character driven enjoyable and not really near any kind of mark as far as plot driven. Some humor in the form of extreme cringe alleviates the third act, but it’s not enough to raise my estimation of the overall work.

 

Favorite Quotes

 

Here’s the thing with dreams…

…they’re carefully tailored to the only audience who will ever see them, which is you. So I’m not big on telling people about my dreams for that reason.

 

I love mediocre people. The ones who try their hardest to make something beautiful, something great, something that people will remember and talk about when they’re gone—and they come up short.

 

We laugh at them, but you really have no choice in this life but to believe with all your heart that you’re extraordinary. You have to hold this conviction against all evidence to the contrary. Living is too sad otherwise.

 

Most of all, I think it’s people who love to be reminded that sometimes you do your best and you come up short, but there’s still a place in the world for people like that.

 

There’s nothing in this world worse than a phone notification that’s not for the thing you need.

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

2 thoughts on “Review: Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

    1. It did have an interesting concept, but yeah, it turned out a bit meh. I haven’t read any of Jeff’s others books, but I saw that someone said his books with male MCs tend to be a bit better. It’s disappointing that his female character development is so poor.

      Like

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