Friday, August 31, 2012

Jessica Darling: The High School Years

Well...I'm trying something new again this week! I've seen a lot of bloggers do a series review, so I decided to give one a try. Since you all know how "good" I am at writing short reviews, I thought I'd split up this series, which takes place over a ten-year span, into multiple sections of Jessica Darling's life. I hope you enjoy it, despite its length, and don't worry - there are no spoilers for the first novel in my review of the second book, hence the reason it's much shorter. I'd love to know what you think of this series review as I am planning on doing one for the Lux Series so far as well (Obsidian and Onyx), so do leave me some feedback about how you find the formatting! Would you prefer if I just quoted the summary from GoodReads, like I did with my mini-reviews earlier this week? Let me know! :)

Title: Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, #1) 

Author: Megan McCafferty 

Rating: 4.5 Stars 

If you haven’t heard of the Jessica Darling Series before then…well, you’ve been living under a rock, that’s what. If, however, you’re like me and have seen the gushing reviews for this all over the place and somehow never picked it up…well, don’t make the same mistake I did of waiting for months before reading this: pick it up now. Seriously, this series is just that good. It’s funny, it’s quirky, and it’s hilarious, but it is also deep, provocative, compelling, and is most certain to strike a cord within your heart.

When Hope, Jessica’s best friend moves away, Jessica is heart-broken. She must now suffer through sophomore year alone, stuck with a group of “friends” who she secretly despises, a mother who is more concerned about her lack of a boyfriend than anything else, a father who is constantly behind her back to train for track, a sister who is getting married in a matter of months, and bad-boy Marcus Flutie who is giving her an unusual amount of attention. It might just be sophomore year, but Jessica is stressed beyond belief and she must struggle to find who she is beneath all the layers of ‘fake’ she wears to please everyone else in her life.

Jessica Darling has quickly become one of my favorite protagonists of all time. I kid you not; Jessica is sensible, she is intelligent, she is sarcastic, she is quirky, she is funny without meaning to be, she is dramatic when she wants to be, she is observant, and she is so afraid to be herself that I just want to give her a hug. Jessica Darling is like every teenage girl in the world; she has her insecurities, her embarrassing moments, her random crushes on older guys, her difficulties with finding true friendships, her bad days, and the days when she just wants to get rid of her family altogether. I don’t think I’ve ever clicked with a protagonist so easily and I loved that about Jessica. I loved that she could understand me and I could understand her and more than a book-character-and-reader friendship, it felt more like a best-friend-friendship. Jessica’s narration is one that you cannot help but love and believe me, you won’t want her story to end or stop; you’ll just want to keep reading, even until the early hours of dawn.

While Sloppy Firsts is an utterly character-driven novel, steered by a protagonist I absolutely loved and who wasn’t afraid to point out and notice all the flaws in herself, what made me love this novel as much as I did were the issues it undertook. Admit it: High School was the worst four years of your life. It’s a jungle of people trying to fit in and 99% of the people you meet only care about themselves; so really, it’s just a brutal climb to the top of the social ladder or, if you attend my high school, the top of the ‘Highest GPA’ ladder. So, while many novels tackle on the hidden truths behind real high schools, I feel as if McCafferty does it the best. She does it in a way that is funny, but also drives her point across. She uses Jessica not only as a character that is easy to understand, but one that is easy to look up to, admire, take inspiration from and learn from as well, which I love. Sloppy Firsts is not only the type of book you finish wanting to read it again (or pick up the sequel because of its cliffhanger ending), but it is also the type of book you finish feeling wiser about the world in general and I love that. It isn’t just another chick-flick-high-school-drama – it has a purpose and it fulfills that purpose beautifully.

Nevertheless, the best part about Sloppy Firsts is the fact that the two most influential people in Jessica’s life, Hope and Marcus, are conspicuously absent for most of it. Hope is literally in a different state, but Marcus (who is so sweet and smart and funny and ohmygosh swoooon) only makes an appearance during the second-half of this novel. I loved this, simply because it left so much more room for Jessica to grow and learn by herself. Furthermore, sometimes, the best people in our lives aren’t and simply can’t always be with us, which I found so realistic. Even your crush, who you think is always with you, is really only in your brain 99% of the time. Seriously, think back to all your crushes – how many times did you really interact? While Marcus and Jessica interact quite a bit in the second-half of this story, they have their distances too which I appreciated. I loved how their romance was a slow build-up of the sexual tension between them, a deeper understanding of their personality, and the ability to make a marked impact on each others lives. In other words, it totally sucked me in and I’m flying high off the drug character that is Marcus Flutie.

In summary, Sloppy Firsts is a must-read. It’s a novel that you will instantly connect with, instantly love, and will constantly re-read. It’s funny while tackling serious issues, hilarious while representing a true form of high school and teenage life, and it has one of the best female heroines to grace Contemporary YA Fiction. Far from being sloppy, Sloppy Firsts is a riveting beginning to a series that is sure to become a favorite and will leave you anxiously waiting for more. (I do mean this in the literal sense because until you get your hands on Second Helpings, you will lose sleep over Marcus and Jessica. You don’t think characters can affect your life so deeply? Yeah, tell me that after you finish this novel!)

Title: Second Helpings (Jessica Darling, #2) 

Author: Megan McCafferty 

Rating: 4 Stars

I have to admit it: Sloppy Firsts was better. Yet, that doesn’t mean that Second Helpings wasn’t a brilliant follow-up novel, because it was! Jessica Darling is back and this time, she’s about to start her senior year of high school. Hope, her best friend, is still miles away from her, her mother still wants her to find a boyfriend, her sister is now expecting a baby, her relationship with her father continues to get worse, and to make matters worse, it’s time to apply for college. If that wasn’t enough on her plate, Jessica wants to can’t think of Marcus Flutie…not after what happened before. Thus, Jessica’s last year of high school starts and if you thought Jessica had things figured out after Sloppy Firsts, think again!

So, why was Second Helpings not as good as Sloppy Firsts? It has the same quirky and hilarious narration, the same unforgettable characters, the same high school problems…so what changed? Well, I guess in one word, it would be…Jessica. I still love Jessica Darling to death and she seriously is my literary-soul-sister, but Jessica’s thoughts begin to change in this one. For one, she begins to think about sex way too much. Nope, she isn’t having sex, she’s just thinking about it on practically every other page, which is not only vastly unrealistic, but became rather annoying too. I felt as if some of the discussions she had about sex were even repeated from time-to-time and was rather confused about this new direction of thought. Furthermore, there was one rather predictable mystery in this story that Jessica took awhile to pick up on, so while it didn’t ruin the story in the least, it was a little disappointing to see such an intelligent character fail to see something this obvious.

Nevertheless, those petty qualms aside, I devoured Second Helpings in a matter of hours. Jessica is still struggling between being who she is and fitting in at high school – a conflict I found equally as compelling in this sequel. I really liked that despite her growth, Jessica still had so much more to learn, not only in school, but from her family at home too. McCafferty shows us this so perfectly that we can’t help but love Jessica, even for all her flaws and mistakes in this book.

Marcus Flutie (*cue swoons*) also plays a larger role in this novel, but perhaps not as large as some readers would have liked. Yet, I loved this aspect of the book. Once again, the most influential people in Jessica’s life are absent, so whenever Marcus did make an appearance in this book, it was like a wonderful treat. I’ve never been a big fan of sexual tension or cheesiness, but I ate up the sexual tension in this one and grinned like an idiot at the eventual cheesiness at the end of this. I know, I know, Marcus Flutie has made me into a pile of gush, but I can’t even bring myself to care. I love the guy and even more than that, I love how McCafferty makes you see just how right these two are for each other.

Second Helpings has so much going on in it, but it’s a wonderful follow-up to Sloppy Firsts. It also has a conclusion that wraps everything up beautifully and leaves the reader utterly satisfied, so it will definitely be awhile before I pick up the next Jessica Darling book, Charmed Thirds. Still, I know that when I do read it, it’ll be like meeting an old friend all over again. McCafferty’s book are absolutely wonderful and I think part of the reason why I love them so much is because my best friend and I attend different schools as well, yet, she is still the most influential person in my life and I can connect with and understand Jessica on a deeper level because of it. Don’t worry though – Jessica has a little bit of everyone in her and there is no way you cannot fall in love with this series. Marcus Flutie will ensure that, even if Jessica doesn’t! ;) I really can’t recommend these books enough as they are absolutely hilarious and wonderfully quick reads at the same time, so I know this is one series I will constantly re-visit, even as I grow old. Yup, it’s just that good.  

36 comments:

  1. Oh I love this idea of a series review Keertana, it makes it much easier and better for me to decide if I want to pick up the series or not. Instead of flicking back and forth on multiple pages! I still can't believe I haven't picked this series yet, it sounds so adorable! Are you planning to continue with the rest of the books? Another lovely review(s) hun! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Thanks Jasprit!(: I'm planning to do one with the Lux Series soon as well, so hopefully you'll enjoy that. I loved these first two books and I know you will too, so I can't wait to see what you think of them! :D

      Delete
  2. Like Jasprit, I also really love the idea of a series review! I've heard great things about the Jessica Darling series and I always get recommendations of reading the series since I'm also a huge fan of contemporary! Marcus sounds like a very swoon-worthy guy too ;)

    Absolutely fantastic series review, Keertana! ♥ SO glad you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Celine!(: I'm so glad you enjoyed this series review and I would definitely recommend this series! I loved the first two books and Marcus is amazing!<3 I hope you pick it up soon! :D

      Delete
  3. I read this series AAAGES ago but forgot where I left off. I remember really enjoying it though? So I'm going to try to check these out from the library next time and see. I knew it followed her into college but I didn't know it went beyond that. Everyone has such positive things to say about Marcus Flutie, can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy these books, Elena! I love them and Marcus is AMAZING! :D

      Delete
  4. On a scale from S to K, I SUCK. I'm behind on commenting, so I'm playing a bit of catch-up at the moment! Anywho!

    Your literary-soul-sister? Favourite protagonist of ALL TIME? Holy whoa... this.... she.... I... WHY HAVEN'T I READ THESE BOOKS YET? I hear about the Jessica Darling series SO often. People name it as their favourite and I make a vague mental note to go check them out, but have I ever? Nope. Until now. Where you have me wanting to run out the door in my PJ's (okay, it's afternoon and I'm still in my pj's, but it's the weekend and I'm LAZY, so shush) and buy Sloppy Firsts. I want to fall in love with Jessica as much as you have. I want to descend into a puddle of swoon over Marcus Flutie. I want to fall head over heels for a new series where I don't have to wait for each new book to be released.

    I'm so glad the sequel, despite a few disappointments, was a fantastic follow up. I can't wait to read your thoughts on the next books! Amazing reviews, Keertana! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I DON'T KNOW BRODIE! READ THEM! I think you'll LOVE these! They are so...you! I adored these first two books and Marcus! *swoooons* I really think you'll adore these novels, Brodie, so I hope you get to read them soon! :D

      Delete
  5. I'm in the majority vote here- I love the idea of a series review. And I'm so thrilled that you had such a terrific time with Marcus Flutie... er, I mean, all the characters! ;) And after so many positive, glowing reviews of the Jessica Darling series (more so the earlier books that later ones, however) I'm certainly interested in reading these books. :) Superb review, Keertana!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Leanne! I'm glad you're enjoying the series review! :D I loved the first two novels in this series and Marcus was especially such a fantastic guy! I hope you get the chance to pick these up soon! :D

      Delete
  6. I love that you're doing a series review and that you've split them into high school/college.

    I preferred Sloppy Firsts, in fact I don't think any of the other 4 books live up to the first book, but I still enjoyed book 2! I was able to relate to so many of Jessica's thoughts - now I feel like a re-read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mandee! :) I preferred Sloppy Firsts as well and I doubt I'll continue with the series! :/ But I still loved these two and they were just SO much fun! :D

      Delete
  7. I love the idea of a series review! If I was organized enough, I would want to do the same thing, lol. I have only read the first three, but I agree with you wholeheartedly about both Jessica (such a great portagonist - easy to relate to, funny, down to earth) and about MARCUS FLUTIE!

    I can't wait to see what you think about the last two in the series. Love these reviews! Really well done, Keertana.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jessie!(: I don't think I'll continue with the series, simply because I've heard questionable things about the following books and I loved the way these two left off, so I think I'll just leave it here. I loved Marcus and Jessica too, so I'm thrilled you liked this series as well! :D

      Delete
  8. Honestly, I've only ever seen the covers for these books and have never read anything about them. Probably because I didn't think they would be my sorts of reads. I really like the sound of them now however and can't wait to meet Jessica. It's a shame she wasn't quite the same in the second book but she sounds like a great main character in the first. Brilliant reviews, Keertana!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sam!(: Gosh, these books are definitely your type of reads, so I hope you're able to pick them up soon! I loved them and I just know you will as well! :D

      Delete
  9. I like this format, Keertana! I have Sloppy Firsts but now that I know it ends in a cliffhanger, I'm going to buy the second one before I even start it! Wonderful review, I can't wait to meet Marcus! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I know you'll love these books, Rachel, so I can't wait till you read them! I'm also really glad you enjoyed this format as I'll be using it in the future as well! :D

      Delete


  10. Good article.I really think what you said is right,in modern society,we have so many troubles,if you feel nothing to relax yourself,I suggest you to play the wow and some other games,and you can come to my page to find more information about http://www.mmolive.com/ and http://www.mmohome.com/gold/Guild-Wars-2-US.html/

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really do need to pick up this series. Every review I've read is glowing. It had me worried that perhaps I'll be the black sheep here, but now I really don't think that'll be the case. Jessica does sound like a wonderful protagonist and I can't wait to be introduced to her myself. And by the way, I liked this format of the reviews. Since the first two books take place in high school, I think it makes sense to have them in a single post. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the following books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amanda!(: I loved these books and I doubt you'll be the black sheep, don't worry. Jessica is an awesome protagonist and Marcus is so swoon-worthy as well! ;) I'm also glad you like this format and I plan on using it for another Series Review as well, so it's good to know you're enjoying them! :D

      Delete
  12. I wrote Reviews for this series. The third book and fourth are better than the second but #1 was the best so far

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so too. I've heard the first book was the best, so I guess it just isn't one of those series that gets better with time! :/

      Delete
  13. You are so awesome! I do not believe I've read through anything like this before. So great to discover another person with genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!
    Feel free to visit my website ... how to make an app

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good article. I am facing a few of these issues as well.
    .
    Also see my website: mac baren

    ReplyDelete
  15. Truly when someone doesn't be aware of after that its up to other people that they will help, so here it happens.
    Feel free to surf my web page ; http://www.yourtobaccosstore.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'll immediately clutch your rss feed as I can not to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you've any?

    Please allow me realize so that I may just subscribe.
    Thanks.
    my site: samson tobacco

    ReplyDelete
  17. If some one desires expert view on the topic of blogging and site-building after that i recommend him/her
    to pay a quick visit this website, Keep up the pleasant work.
    Also visit my website ; amphora pipe tobacco

    ReplyDelete
  18. I decided to share the I barbarians program, this configuration you can pace, you can feel that you are a team and team. Diablo 3 Gold And, on my recent research program as I pursue some of the challenges and operations.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Have you ever considered creating an e-book or guest authoring on
    other websites? I have a blog based on the same information you discuss
    and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my viewers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free
    to send me an email.
    Have a look at my blog ; golden virginia

    ReplyDelete
  20. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different website
    and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.
    My page ... erinmore flake

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm gone to convey my little brother, that he should also go to see this website on regular basis to take updated from newest reports.
    Check out my homepage : http://www.yourtobaccosstore.com/3-drum

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey , what you say is really informative and funny, i like it and hope for more update.buy runescape gold

    I think you just did a right thing to make this choice, rs gold you know that's really funny and i am sure you will not regret.One half of the world does not know how the other half lives

    runescape gold

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm still one of those people who have read rave reviews of this series but hasn't had the chance to pick it up - your reviews motivate me to do so even more! Your connection to the protagonist sounds stellar and is the type of bond I want to form with the characters I read about. Once again, lovely review.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.