Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Uneasy friendships between a group of hesitant, second-guessing, slightly paranoid girls at college," I wrote originally of volume two but, having now read all six WET MOONs so far, I only wish they were more paranoid, for one within them isn't showing her true, seething colours.
The vulnerabilities are beautifully observed, as are the explorations of sexuality.
For these new editions I only had to adjust my WET MOON VOL 1 a little, while adding a new introduction for this did develop in most unexpected directions, and on re-reading what I wrote here I was delighted to discover that Campbell had continued to fool me and I still wasn't looking in all the right directions. Before I forget I should mention that there's a who's who of WET MOON in the back should you need it to keep up.
After a quick flashback to High School, the second book picks up almost immediately after the first.
Cleo's still finding messages left lying around campus saying "Cleo eats it" and one of the chief tensions in this is whether indeed she might be persuaded. She's just bumped into Myrtle (literally) whilst fleeing a class containing her ex-boyfriend, and their new friendship - though as tentative as any of the others - does seem close with Myrtle appearing to be less judgemental than the rest of the crowd who could all Bitch for Britain. Audrey certainly "eats it", but her new friendship with Kinzoku (who does actually appear to have a clue when it comes to love and friendships) threatens to unsettle her relationship with Beth. Meanwhile Trilby - the most mean-spirited and spiteful of the cast last book, who did actually try it on with Cleo - has got herself a boyfriend, but he doesn't seem too confident in the bed department, whilst Cleo herself is disappointed to find out that pretty-boy Glen is [REDACTED].
I think I've just typed "friendship" four times already, so blatantly that's what this series is about, along with body image and sexuality. The cast are constantly checking themselves out in the mirror and pawing themselves, changing hair styles, and then occasionally changing back based on approval or disapproval or anticipation of either.
Some of them are still getting to know each other so there's a lot of naturalistic behaviour like languishing about on beds and sofas, exchanging crushes, secrets and scars, metaphorical and otherwise.
But what about the horror hinted at last time? Yes, that kicks up a notch too, and all those elements seem to meet in Zia, the girl with one arm who photographs herself lying on the ground as if dead, covered in mud and garbage; Fall who wanders around with her mouth open near the swamp, cooking burgers for her mute, scarred and blood-drooling Pa; and fetishist Fern, the uber-rich bald girl whose back bares a butcher's brace of meat hooks. What is up with all that?
I leave you to see if anything becomes clearer for yourselves, but for me this book just opened things up further and I'm all the happier for that. As I wrote last time, Campbell has an eye for the more interesting female body shape, and relishes big, fleshy pierced lips and scowls. Her lines grow softer as she grows into the series, the eyes widen to become pools of doting and doubt, while her command of tones becomes rich and delicious.
It's mesmerising, and actually very pretty except when they're being ugly to each other.