A few months ago I read and absolutely fell in love with one Jessica Darling from Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts. From page one, I fell in love with her humor, her sarcasm and of course her brains. And so I blithely tripped along to the library hoping for more of Jessica (and of course, Mr. Marcus Flutie). But then the unthinkable happened. I got bogged down in the middle of the series and really had a hard time continuing. But luckily I did. Very luckily in fact. Second Helpings and Charmed Thirds were really my Achilles heels in this series so I decided to do a double-mini review in hopes of off-setting some of my disappointment.
Also, let's talk about these covers! I'm so in love with the titles first of all, but I'm also head over heels for those unique little objects on each cover that specifically relate to the story. The t-shirt, the postcard, etc. All very clever and intriguing.
***Just be warned - if you haven't read this series, there WILL BE SPOILERS. I hate to do that, but to talk about one book to the next, you gotta know the plot developments.
Annndddd.... here we go!
Since I fell hard and fast for practically every single thing about Sloppy Firsts I couldn't help but be a little disappointed with Second Helpings. There were tons of great things about this book - Jessica is dead-on with her descriptions of the sheer terror every teen faces in trying to decided what college to attend (I mean really, it's only your ENTIRE FUTURE we're talking about here people) and the odd, bittersweet goodbyes of any senior year. Every bit of that was totally relate-able and hilarious as always. It was Jessica's somewhat subtle change in tone and her sex-crazed mission that put me off this time. Instead of finding her voice snarky and irreverent, she became whiny and pessimistic and downright annoying. But that's not what really got me - it was her whole 'I'm not with Marcus, so I'm gonna be with somebody' motto that lead to her ill-advised quest to lose her virginity with Len. To be honest, I was actually a bit bored until Marcus entered the picture once again - so of course, I was delighted with the ending, it was just a lot of the details leading up to the big finale that left me with mixed feelings on this one.
If I was mildly annoyed with Second Helpings, then Charmed Thirds frustrated me to no end. For the first half of the novel Jessica spends all her time complaining to Marcus that she doesn't want to be 'that girl' who doesn't have a life without her boyfriend (BUT SHE IS). And then the second half is spent complaining about their lack of communication - but doesn't really do anything about it - and that she's too poor. I had truly been looking forward to Jessica's descriptions of college life and the people she meets, yet Megan McCafferty completely blanks out that entire period of Jessica's life. Charmed Thirds covers her entire three years at Columbia yet never once do we hear about it. The narrative simply stops and starts around each school holiday break or return to Pineville. Not exactly what I was hoping for.
Maybe it was the almost complete lack of Marcus in this installment but I also became seriously disillusioned with the Game Master. Perhaps it was Jessica's narrative influencing me, but I was so annoyed with his vow of silence and his choice to go to 'cowboy camp' that allowed him no outside contact for two years -- yet never having the decency to break up with Jessica. Grrr. I'm sorry, but little to no communication over an almost three year period does not a relationship make.
But don't worry, I'll be back in a couple of days with my thoughts on Fourth Comings (which are MUCH nicer, I promise!).
series reading order:
~ Sloppy Firsts - my review
~ Second Helpings
~ Charmed Thirds
~ Fourth Comings
~ Perfect Fifths
book source: my local library