Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Tags: YA, contemporary, road trip, grief, romance, breakups


Amy’s father’s recent death in a car accident has left Amy retreating into herself. The problem comes when she needs to join her mother in their new home on the other side of the country. Enter Roger, a slightly older family friend who also needs to make his way across the country.

As the two near strangers embark on an epic road trip, throwing Amy’s mother’s strict driving directions out the window and instead going where they want, working through Amy’s grief and Roger’s hang-up over an ex-girlfriend, they learn that healing may not be so far off after all…even if it does take a cross-country road trip to attain it.


AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR is a multiformat delight of a road trip read that will sweep you into these two teenagers’ stories.

Morgan Matson’s writing is easy to read, fluid but not floral, emotional without melodramatics. There is huge potential for dramatics in the premise—a death, an ex-girlfriend, a heterosexual boy and girl stuck in a tiny car for days on end—but thankfully descriptions are curtailed, emotions carefully doled out…and all the more effective as a result.

Amy and Roger, while lacking in particularly definable characteristics or quirks that make them stand out in the genre, have one major quality going for them: their relationship is gradual, slowly strained, one of growing attraction, not the “insta-luv” formula we typically get. If you’re looking for a real YA contemporary romance, one that gives the characters clashing histories and emotional obstacles instead of claiming to bring them together at the first look, you need to check this book out.

Finally, AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR provides a pleasant reading experience with its playlists, scrapbook-style layouts of pictures, and handwritten notes and doodles. These elements add to the realistic element of the story: you are made to feel as if Amy and Roger’s road trip actually took place, and you can enjoy their journey as much as possible by adding in the musical and visual experience.

Overall, Morgan Matson’s debut novel is a winning addition to contemporary YA. With a romance that actually develops, the multimedia supplements, and the feel-good magic that usually arises from a good road trip, AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR will feel as good as listening to a playlist of great new songs with your favorite person.

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - It has a cool vintage tint to it, but I actually had completely disregarded this book until I read the zillions of good reviews on it. Just goes to show you what sort of impression a cover and a title can make, I suppose.

Simon & Schuster / May 4, 2010 / Hardcover / 352pp. / $16.99

Review copy bought.


  1. I love the premise of this book.

  2. Big fan of gradual attraction! =D Great review, and I can't wait to read this.

  3. I really, really, really loved this book.

    The playlists, by the way, are kind of awesome too. I ended up going through the book and building the playlists on my YouTube account (some of the songs are too obscure though and are not on YouTube) and you can tell she put a lot of thought into them. Then I listened to them all and bought a bunch of the songs for my iPod because they were really terrific and helped me relive some of my favorite parts of the book. I even discovered some of my new favorite artists because of that book.

    Whenever I hear people talk about how some books will work really well as an interesting multi-media experience ebook, this is the book I think of. I think with the pictures and the scrapbook feel and the playlists this book could have a lot of e-book-interesting potential that most books don't.

  4. I too loved this book. I picked this up at B&N because the cover was so pretty, I never imagined I would enjoy the book as much as I did. And I downloaded all the songs for a playlist on my ipod as well. Very fun. I can't wait for more from Morgan.

    Great review Steph!

  5. I've been wanting to get my hands on this!! I loved the cover and love the road trip vibe to it!

  6. I read this one on summer vacation in June and really enjoyed it! Definitely a cute, fun and light story, and you're right: the growing relationship between Roger and Amy was what made this one so different from other YA books, where we immediately see the hero and heroine feeling some "strange pull" to one another. This wasn't like that, and that made it awesome!

  7. We've been travelling down the same reading path this past couple of months it seems! LOL

    This was another book I enjoyed. Like you I thought the development of the romance was well done, it wasn't rushed or instant love at first sight or obsession and I liked that change from other books. I also liked the characters, they weren't annoying or overwrought.

    Glad you enjoyed!


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