THREE WORDS: Gripping. Palpable. Well-DevelopedMY REVIEW: There is no shortage of dystopian novels available today, but Scott Cramer’s Night of the Purple Moon is unique in that its main characters are middle school age teens and tweens. But don’t think that just because the characters in this book are young that the story lacks suspense, powerful emotions or intense experiences. It doesn’t lack these things at all!Life for Abby and her family on Castine Island is seemingly normal, until the night of the comet and the purple moon. With the comet comes a contaminated space dust that attacks hormones, killing grown-ups and older teens. With her parents dead, middle-schooler Abby and her brother Jordan, along with their young neighbors, must band together to take care of the island’s remaining children. The small group of survivors face many obstacles (lack of food, reckless older kids, sickness) all while knowing that with each passing day their chances of getting sick only grows.Night of the Purple Moon is a quick, yet powerful read that captivated me from beginning to end. Cramer has crafted a well-developed story full of excellent world-building, riveting situations and likable characters.The basic idea of space germs killing off the grown-ups and teens that have gone through puberty is out there enough to be intriguing, but isn’t so farfetched as to be unbelievable. And whether realistic or not, it makes for a frightening and suspenseful story. There’s a very gripping intensity to this premise that makes it quite thought-provoking and unforgettable.I love the fact that the survivors are all middle-school age kids and younger because this adds an even more emotionally complex layer to the story, making it almost impossible for readers to not become invested in these characters. And the characters themselves are easy to connect with and like. I really enjoyed to getting to know Abby, Jordan and their neighbors and watching them all grow and mature as characters. There is something so poignant and startling in the way that these characters have to emotionally mature quickly and yet be terrified of physically maturing.I was greatly impressed with how palpable every emotion is in this book and how real this world feels. I felt every heart-wrenching, painful, scary moment as if I too were experiencing them. The isolation Cramer creates with his characters’ physical location (an island accessible by boat only) works so well as a storytelling tool, creating an enthralling and tangible fear in readers.Without giving anything away, I can honestly say that the last handful of chapters in this book were some of the most nerve wracking, yet absolutely captivating chapters I’ve read in a long time. The last few pages were breathtaking…I literally forget to breathe while reading them!MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Night of the Purple Moon is a wonderful example of how to create a terrifyingly realistic and captivating post-apocalyptic world that will leave readers thoughtful and entertained.