Review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
by Melissa Keil

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.

And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.
As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers.
Publication date:  April 1, 2016 ( First published September 2014 by Hardie Grant Egmont)
Source/Format: eARC via Edelweiss
Pre-order links: AmazonFishpond | Booktopia | Dymocks | Bookworld | Book Depository
My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts:
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl (TIAoCG) takes place in the bucolic Eden Valley, Australia. Alba is spending her senior year holiday vacation, developing her drawing skills or hanging out with her five close friends. They are a really crazy bunch of teens together but their world got a little bit crazier when a Youtube video that went viral says that Armageddon is coming on New Year’s Eve and humanity’s last place of salvation is in Eden Valley.

The book’s title, cover image and synopsis (hello, doomsday backdrop) seems to scream fast-paced action scenes and explosions but really, to me, this is a fairly quiet book. In the midst of the chaos brought by the viral video, Alba contemplates the helplessness of not knowing what she really wants to be in the future and her slow acceptance that her friends have different dreams of their own to pursue. She may never see them as often as before and the prospect of not doing everything with her friends forever is so shattering that it might as well be the end of the world.

I instantly liked Alba right from the very first page. She is a no-nonsense girl, loyal to her friends and talented in drawing. At a young age, her father influenced her on reading comic books and her passion for comic-reading prompted her to create her own character she calls Cinnamon Girl. Over the course of the holiday vacation, she tries to work on Cinnamon Girls’s storyline and I love how the author transported the readers on Alba’s young creative process. I will not pretend that I understand every comic-book or art-related references that Alba threw because I am neither a comic book fanatic nor an artist. I googled a lot while reading but hey, it’s fun learning new things from books, right?

The best thing that I love and feel proud about Alba is her exuding confidence about being a curvy girl. She does not feel a single drop of bashfulness with how she looks and is unashamed to bring out her beauty with heavy eyeliners, ruby-red lippies and cute dresses. There is this shining part in the book where she is given a stack of books that includes a diet book as a Christmas present. Even when one of her close friends got all worked up about it, Alba just brushes it off her shoulders because not one bit would she doubt her own body and beauty. I know that there are other YA books out there with “plus-size” main characters  but in my opinion, what set TIAoCG apart from them is that this book is not about Alba being heavy. She just happened to be a big-breasted curvy girl going through transitions of teenage life. Real life curvy girls do not always worry about their body images. I know tons of real-life people who are on the curvy side but their everyday main concerns are not how to be skinny but more on how to balance life and career, or how to be a a great church youth leader. Society may still sometimes be mean and throw shades at their body build or call them names but these real-life Alba girls that I know does not let non-sense weigh them down. What I’m trying to say is that not all fat girls feel bad about their bodies and I’m glad they are represented well in this book. For me, Alba is a revolutionary champion of body positivism in YA.

There is a love story in the book, if you romantic lot wanna know. For the animal lovers, there is a pet dog that did not die. There is a case of a gone gnome girl with her fate bearing some similarity to the gnome in that French movie called Amelie. And as if Alba is not amazing enough in words, the book has some wicked illustrations at the start of every chapter. The copy that I read from is the U.S. version to be released by Peachtree so I am not sure if the first edition copies have the same drawings, too. Let me share some frames that I like and see for yourself how amazing these drawings are.

TIAoCG is not too emotionally complex but it touched me on the right places of my heart. I wish I could’ve read something like this when I didn’t get in to the uni that my three high school best friends and I planned to go together. Maybe I would not have felt so lost back then.
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