Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty

Ok, so please don't read this if you haven't read the book yet (especially you Joanna) because there will be spoilers. ***Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers*** I essentially can't help myself I just have to talk about it.

So, I love these books. The first two books in the series Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings were, in my opinion, perfection. Jessica Darling, the heroine, was the perfect fusion of a snarky, neurotic, smart, funny, with an ability to dissect social situations that made me cramp I was laughing so hard. Add in her tortured love life with Markus Flutie - one of the best bad boy characters ever written and you truly couldn't have asked for anything more.

The third book lost me a bit. Instead of being a year in Jessica's life it tried to mash in her entire college experience in one book. It felt rushed, it felt like there were huge parts left out, it just didn't work that much for me.

So I was a bit anxious when I picked this up. Would I like it more than 3? Would I be disappointed in it? It turns out that I would like it much more than 3, but still less than the first two. It sort of felt like Jessica was back. That she had regained her voice, was still insecure, but had matured quite a bit. And I certainly liked that it wasn't rushed. The book is the same size as the previous three, but this one takes place within one week. The long, difficult week that takes place after Jessica attempts to break up with Marcus only to have him propose. She doesn't know what to say so he asks her to think about it for a week and then decide. And think she does...and write. Instead of being in diary format this journal is filled with one long letter to Marcus detailing everything that happens in her quest to decide whether or not she should accept his proposal.

The thing that I think I realized after finishing is that what makes the first two books so different than the second two is the way in which Jessica and Marcus' relationship exists. The first two detail the development of their relationship. Marcus is always present. We hear dialog between the two. The sexual tension is smoking. In the second two books, Marcus is largely absent. He's in the background away at school, sending mysterious postcards, but he isn't really there if you get what I mean. Which results in zero sexual tension. Not only do we lose the sexual tension, but he's turned from a sexy, complex, intellectual bad boy into a patronizing, pretentious, Buddhist spouting bearded desert man. And that's where the last two books fall flat for me. Marcus isn't remotely as interesting or compelling as he was. We know the dizzying romantic highs and so we can't help but be disappointed by the lackluster lows that follow.

I was particularly happy with several things that happened in the book. I loved how Hope's and Jessica's relationship was fleshed out. I loved that Hope and Marcus had a secret past that drove Jessica into jealous fits. I enjoyed Dexy a whole bunch. I loved her job interview for the lovelab. There was a lot to love in this book. Particularly the ending. I was so happy that she didn't marry him I can't tell you. It was time for that relationship to end. Marcus was just too annoying for words and Jessica is far too interesting a character to settle.

And who am I kidding. If there is a fifth one in the works I'll be first in line to buy it. Especially if there are hints that Marcus regains his old charm and personality (minus the drugs of course lol).

Joanna - once you've read all this you'll have to comment :)

1 comment:

joanna said...

Oh dear wonderful, wonderful Megan McCafferty! How I stand (or sit for 6 consecutive hours) and give reverence at your creation. The reason I love these books is all Patti's fault - she the one who kept saying I should give them a try.

I agree with just about everything Patti said. My one exception is that Marcus -in his 2nd absent book "appearance"- was much better. Not Firsts or Seconds better, but such an improvement over Thirds. His childish non-talking gave me violent tendencies, but I like how Jessica actually incorporates his Eastern philosophies into her life. (Not a Buddhist, Patti, a “deist who practices Vipassana meditation.”) I was hoping for more 1-1 dialogue, but whatever.

I panicked when I realized that there would be no renewal of love. I was getting a wee bit emotional there at the end, but I am happy with how Jessica talked/wrote it out. Good for her!

The characters were much better, too. I dreaded Manda (who, truly, was too convenient) and Len and Dexy's reappearance, but it worked. I'm also glad her parents were given more depth, too. Her father's scenes were fantastic. And Hugh! Yay, Hugh!

I firmly believe there will be a book 5. There is so much left open and I’m anxious to see Jessica in her new life not defined by getting back together with Marcus. The new job with Cinthia, Hope, Bethany, and NYC are such interesting prospects. Marcus and Jessica can’t be kept apart – I’m a firm hopeless romantic in that respect. So c’mon McCafferty, help us out here and tell us there’s book 5 already.