Member Reviews

Morgan Matson never disappoints. I was so excited to recieve a review copy of one of her books and although I do not read too much YA anymore, Morgan will always be on my auto buy list. I really feel that her writing transends the boundaries of adult and YA fiction. I never feel that I am missing anything or its too young for me, rather a great story with great characters. We start out with Darcy, who has recently been ditched by her friend, when on her way to a big concert with her friend to see one of her Dad's favorite bands. Out of funds and a practically dead cell, stuck in a bus station after a the bus breaks down there are few people that might be able to lend her a charger so she can charge her phone to call her dad. (who knew so many people had androids??) Enter left, Russell who has an iphone but unfortunately for both of them, not one charger to be found. It is at that point when they have a combined mission to find said charger and good times between them ensue. I loved this book and as I said, Morgan Matson never disappoints. Highly recommend this sweet book.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing for providing me an advanced copy of this book to review.

This is a beautiful story for hopeless romantics like myself!! The chemistry between the two main characters was believable, relatable, and I had butterflies in my stomach!

The rest of the characters were fun, lighthearted, and written in a way I feel like I now know them, and will miss learning more about them (maybe a spin off is needed!!).

This is the perfect story for summer and beach reading!!

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Cute instalove ya story.. Darcy is adorable.
I didn't really get into it, but I think that was on me. The writing was good, just not my style.

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The Ballad of Darcy and Russell is a delightful rollercoaster ride that proves the magic of love can strike at the most inconvenient times—like when you're stranded at a Nevada bus station with a dead phone and no cash. Darcy, our hopelessly romantic heroine, has always believed in love at first sight, but she's never experienced it herself. Cue Russell: the cute, funny, and kind guy who shows up just when her life is falling apart.
Stranded and feeling utterly defeated, Darcy's chance encounter with Russell is the silver lining of her otherwise disastrous night. The author does a fantastic job of turning a stranded-in-the-middle-of-nowhere scenario into a charming and heartfelt adventure. As Darcy and Russell walk and talk through the night, their chemistry is palpable, making you root for them even as you chuckle at their witty banter and awkward moments.
The entire story unfolds over one night, and the author captures the essence of youthful spontaneity and the magic of serendipitous connections. The dialogue is sharp, funny, and occasionally profound, as Darcy and Russell reveal surprising truths about themselves. Their conversations range from the light-hearted to the deeply personal, and you can't help but get swept up in their whirlwind romance.
While the book is filled with humor and heart, it also poses some thought-provoking questions: Can you really know someone after just a few hours? Is it possible to fall in love in less than a day? The author handles these themes with a deft touch, balancing the sweetness of the romance with the bittersweet reality of their impending goodbye.
Sure, some might say the idea of falling in love overnight is a bit far-fetched, but hey, isn't that what makes it so enchanting? The Ballad of Darcy and Russell is a fun, fast-paced read that will leave you smiling and maybe even believing in a little bit of love at first sight magic yourself. It's a perfect pick-me-up for anyone who enjoys a good meet-cute with a dash of humor and a lot of heart.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Morgan Matson's signature style is on full display in "The Ballad of Darcy and Russell." The meet-cute is adorable, the characters are likable, and the road trip premise is full of potential for adventure.

However, the story didn't quite hit all the high notes for me. The insta-love felt a bit rushed, even with Matson's usual talent for creating romantic connections. The central conflict, while relatable, could have been explored with more depth.

Despite these shortcomings, the book is a light and easy read. Fans of Matson's previous works will likely find familiar comfort in her writing style and themes. The ending, though predictable, is sweet.

If you're looking for a quick escape with a touch of romance, "The Ballad of Darcy and Russell" is a pleasant diversion. But for those seeking a more profound emotional journey, it might leave you a little underwhelmed.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing for the opportunity to read this ARC. All opinions are honest and my own.

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3.5 stars

The beginning was a little cringe and I felt myself rolling my eyes at the over-the-top unrealistic direction it was going. (You could see who Russell actually was right away)

But Matson managed to bring it back down to earth and grounded this little piece of escapism pretty well. She always excels at secondary characters and family/friend issues so this was no exception. The ending was a nice change of pace for this kind of story (spend one life changing day together, but will they stay together after that magical day??...very Before Sunrise, which is cited in the book).

My big gripe is that Darcy was kind of justified in her feelings towards her mom and with Russell. When it is revealed how he lied to her, her inner monologue with her friends (which is another part that I didn't love - she has full conversations with her two best friends in her head. I know a major plot point is that she doesn't have her phone, but like halfway through she does so you could have changed this to an actual conversation) is her saying that she lied to him too. But did she? She just didn't tell this person she had met two hours earlier that her mom had left her when she was a baby. Seems kind of normal to me to not open a conversation with that. Plus, she resolves her mom issues by coming to terms with her shortcomings in their relationship. I'm sorry, but her mom left her as a two year old and then moved out of the country to start a new family! I think the onus is on the mom to make that relationship better and to fix it. An eighteen year old who has essentially been abandoned for 16 years is allowed to be salty towards their mother.

Overall, a pretty typical Matson book, but still not as good as Since You've Been Gone

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This book was SUPER cute, and I immediately vibes with it. I live in a small town in Nevada, that hosts the largest and longest running country music festival in the state. And I loved the Author mentioning all these small towns that I know well. Loved it!

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Loved this cute little romance. A fun romance of two teen getting stranded at bus station together and exploring if this could be love at first site.

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This is one of those “takes place in 24 hours” books that just works, although it did take me a while to get into it. Russell is the type of character teen me would have instantly fallen in love with. And Darcy was such a relatable character.

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This was beyond good. Great if I must say. I can’t wait to rave about this to everyone. If you are looking for a good book, pick this up.

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I think this book gave me butterflies more than any other book I have ever read. In the first 6 chapters, are you kidding me?? I highlighted throughout the book every time that something adorable happened that made me have to put the book down and take a second. 30 TIMES. I didn’t know how I would feel about the insta-love in this book since it all takes place mostly over 24 hours but the amount of time that we got to spend with Darcy and Russell made me feel a real connection between them. Major Taylor Swift invisible string vibes.

By far my favorite part of this book was the first section, “Because the Night,” out of all the highlights, I think 11 of them were from these first couple of chapters. After that, there was the dreaded misunderstanding and they didn’t even interact for a couple chapters. After that I feel like it fell off a bit considering in the first hundred pages I thought that this would be a 5 stars. 4 stars is still a really good rating I was just a little disappointed when the first few chapters were SO GOOD.

Overall, I still really recommend this book! It was super cute and I loved Darcy and Russell! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!!

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This is already on my HS shelves. Loved this book and the journey.

Cute, funny tale about making the best of unexpected misfortunes and an unplanned road trip home.

Love Morgan’s books and this one didn’t disappoint.

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THE BALLAD OF DARCY AND RUSSELL by Morgan Matson (The Unexpected Everything) is another well-crafted romantic comedy featuring two soon-to-be college freshman. Matson is adept at developing characters and describing adventures; a personal favorite is her Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. In the latest, Darcy and Russell are stuck in a bus station in Jesse, Nevada, on their way back to LA after having separately attended a music festival. Darcy is almost out of cash and neither has a cell phone charger, so they set out to solve that immediate problem but end up creating more. A near arrest for trespassing turns into a helicopter ride, shared confidences about family situations, an eventful road trip, re-evaluation of college choices, and a physical relationship. That all happens in roughly 24 hours which is a little hard to believe. At times the story seems to drag as Darcy mulls over her choices although other sections are sweet and caring. Angsty teens will find the range of emotions to be quite relatable – School Library Journal recommends this title for grades 9 and up, saying "This look at the realities of what comes after love-at-first-sight is worth a read." THE BALLAD OF DARCY AND RUSSELL received a starred review from Kirkus ("quippy dialogue, hilarious jokes, and corny but juicy chemistry").

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Darcy Milligan has a fine, albeit messy, life. Raised by a single father and named for his favorite song by his (and now her) favorite band, she's about to leave her hometown of LA for a college she barely knows anything about in Connecticut. Before that, she's hit a Nevada music festival to see said favorite band perform. But when she gets stranded at a bus station with no phone charger, she meets Russell Henrion—a handsome, witty aspiring Broadway composer who knows the source of her name and happens to love the same obscure book she does. Suddenly, she's wrapped up in a whirlwind one-night romance like the ones in the movies. At first.

A few bad late-night decisions later, Darcy discovers that Russell Henrion is actually Russell Sanders—son of Wylie Sanders, lead singer of that aforementioned favorite band. Between the shock of being in her favorite celebrity's Nevada home and trying to figure out whether Russell is the love of her life or a big liar, she barely has time to cope with that other problem: the whole college thing. But as the long weekend goes on, both Darcy and Russell start coming to terms with college, family, and and whether love at first sight is a real thing.

The Ballad of Darcy and Russell employs my least favorite romance trope (miscommunication), but it's the exception that proves the rule. Rather than being a drama of errors where people willfully misunderstand each other or walk past the wrong door at the wrong time, it's an exercise in understanding each other and embracing difficult parts of ourselves and our lives. Both Darcy and Russell are figuring out who they are, both in the context of their families and themselves. Despite their very different lives, they have very similar fears. And the lack of communication that kicks the story off is the whole point: opening up, breaking down their own insecurities, and allowing themselves to communicate more freely.

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The Ballad of Darcy and Russell was such a sweet YA romance. Since the events of the book happen in one night, the romance moves very fast, but Darcey and Russell go through a lot and really get to know each other in that short period of time. I loved the inclusion of both of their families and friends. While Darcy’s friends were not actually with her, you still got to know them and their friendship. The family dynamics of both Darcy and Russell were very different, but they were able to relate to each other. It was very heartwarming to see them comfort and be there for each other involving their family problems. This was my first Morgan Matson book, but it definitely won’t be my last.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the ARC of this book.

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This was Matson's most romantic YA contemporary yet! I loved the Before Sunrise conceit, full of lots of unexpected twists, turns, and easter eggs, as we've all come to expect and love! The idea of falling in love with someone you don't know, and then questioning and seeing if you can deepen that love, is so compelling and entrancing. I loved every page.

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When Darcy's "sort of" acquaintance ditches her at a Nevada music festival, she's left to make it back home to LA - the day before she leaves for college across the country. She has maybe 20 dollars in her pocket and her phone is about to die. Stranded at a bus station in the desert, Darcy meets Russell. Darcy is one to believe in love at first sight, but this connection she has with Russell as they walk around the small desert town getting to know one another as they wait for their bus to Los Angeles, is something she could have never even imagined. Over the course of a night, Darcy and Russell learn about each other and themselves... but is that enough time to truly get to know someone? To fall in love?

Morgan Matson is an instant read for me! All of her YA stories have always had a special place in my heart and are always chalk full of great dialogue, and amazing characters. The Ballad of Darcy and Russell have that and more! To be honest, I felt myself feeling the pacing was a little slow in the beginning, but by the time we reach part 2 or 3 of the book and Russell's "secret" is revealed I was just hooked! Just like Save the Date, Matson is also so great and writing families and scenes with lots of characters. It doesn't become overwhelming or confusing like it typically should, but it flows very well from one point of conversation with one of many characters to the next. I think this was a fun read and plan to recommend it to YA readers this summer.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Books for this early copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Morgan Matson’s writing always give me such nostalgia and this book was no different. Darcy and Russell spend an eventful 24 hours together that gives Before Sunrise vibes. They learn about each other and themselves. There’s romance and exploring parent relationships/blended families. I love their banter and all the music references. It’s another YA hit for matson.

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This is a Dnf but I did make it over 50% I used to love Morgan Matson but I feel like I have just outgrown her. I don’t like this pattern she has done for her last 3 books where they take place over a short amount of time.

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Darcy loves rom coms, so when her bus breaks down on the way home from the Silverspun Music Festival (the “Coachella of Nevada”) and she meets a handsome stranger in the bus station, it seems like the meet-cute she’s always dreamed of. She and Russell wander the streets of Jesse, Nevada, in search of a phone charger, food, and something to keep them occupied, and it couldn’t possibly be a more perfect first date.

But as Darcy discovers, life is not, in fact, a rom com, and when the real world breaks into their perfect date, she’s humiliated and deeply disappointed. Of course, the story’s not over, but no spoilers from us.

Hat tip to Morgan Matson (whose books we’ve read a lot of over the years): we almost DNFed (“Did Not Finish”) this one because the beginning of the book was so clichéd. But Matson knew what she was doing, cleverly illustrating for us and for Darcy that life is not a rom com, and from the moment Darcy’s bubble bursts, the book gets really good. We see what you did there, Ms. Matson!

Darcy and Russell are in that exceptionally free (but also somewhat unnerving) summer between senior year of high school and freshman year of college, and it turns out they have a lot to work through when it comes to accepting the families and the futures they’ve been dealt, but watching them get there is rewarding.

The novel does have profanity and some mature content that probably makes it more appropriate for high school students (as will be the case for most of the books on this list).

Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are our own.

Will be posted at on June 3, 2024.

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