An Arrow To The Moon by Emily X.R. Pan is a heartbreaking modern twist on an ancient Chinese mythological tale. Two gods have been reincarnated in the modern age as teenagers Hunter and Luna, and like Romeo and Juliet, their love transcends their families’ mutual hatred.
When Hunter Yee and Luna Chang first meet, the earth cracks open throughout town. The more time they spend together, the more strange things happen. Water responds to Luna’s hand gestures, and fireflies follow her everywhere. Hunter has perfect aim and is followed by a wind that always seems to get him in trouble. Luna was her family’s perfect daughter, and Hunter was always a problem, but despite their parents’ wishes, the two begin to grow very close. Their families’ pasts soon come to light, and the children can only hope their love will be enough to protect them from the evil that lurks after their every step.
Pan expertly weaves many classic YA genres in this tale, giving coming-of-age, fantasy, and suspense. The chapters alternate perspectives to keep the reader intimate with the characters and fully immersed in the world around the story. Pan keeps the pieces moving, so the reader is always a step behind where the narrative leads, and much like the characters of the story, unknowingly a step away from a fall into one of the cracks. There are so many moving parts to the story, but a reader never feels lost, and Pan pulls everything together in a beautiful, impactful way that shows a real mastery of writing craft.
Hunter and Luna (and Cody, Hunter’s brother) come to life as characters and are so easy to love as a reader. They are both extremely kind characters, who are always trying to do their best for their families, even when their families aren’t doing the best for them. Luna’s anxiety about the future, about not really knowing what she wants because of her father’s strict plan for her, is palpably felt in my gut as I read. Hunter is never the real cause of the trouble surrounding him, though no one believes him. Hunter’s tale is heart-wrenching, as he wants more than anything to be a good son, but he wonders, “had they been good parents? Did they deserve a good son?” Ultimately, he decides it is enough that he was a good brother. The emotions in this story are real, and unforgettable.
An Arrow To The Moon is a masterfully written, heart-destroying story. The comparisons to Romeo and Juliet, and the knowledge of the myths the story is based on serve as foreshadowing for this beautifully tragic tale. This story brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget it. It is my new favorite book.