Monday, January 6, 2014

Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty


Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty is the third in the Jessica Darling series and is somewhat better, in my opinion, than the second book.  Rather than trying to follow the previous novels in having the chapters organized by month, this one novel spans the course of several years, following Jessica Darling through her entire college-life experience.  The novel begins with Jessica on break from her studies but not from the complications of her life.

What I didn’t like about this novel begins with Hope who remains a cypher, an unknown character because her brief appearance is aborted before the reader can come to know her.   So how she is such a driving force for Jessica remains a mystery.  Technically, we are told more about Hope than we are ever shown, only knowing her through the hearsay of Jessica herself.  After two novels reading about Hope, reading Jessica’s letters to hope, we still don’t get to experience Hope for ourselves. 

There is also the character Dexy, introduced in this third volume.  On the surface, there’s nothing especially wrong with her.  But I was amazed that Jessica Darling didn’t make a connection between Dexy’s behavior and that of a character from an ‘80s movie.  Bearing in mind that Jessica is a professed fan of all cinema of the ‘80s, especially the John Hughes oeuvre, why would she not see a similarity between Dexy’s costume changes as derivative of Iona from Pretty in Pink.  I confess, I first found myself thinking of Carrie Hamilton’s Reggie Harris on the television series Fame.  That association is more obscure and, contextually, less obvious than Annie Potts as Iona.  I found it distracting, thinking as I did that if Jessica were a real person who loved John Hughes’ films she would surely make the connection between Dexy and Iona. 

In spite of these two flaws, I still enjoyed reading this novel enough.  Yes, everyone but Jessica herself seems to be nothing more than a two-dimensional character, unchanging from novel to novel.  But it is a pleasure to see Jessica mature.  It is especially delightful to finally see a young adult novel that allows a young woman to pursue her college education, even when it means being separated from her best friend and her boyfriend.  She is focused on her goals even as she continues to occasionally nurture her relationships with the letters with which the reader has become accustomed.  And for that reason alone, I’m content to continue reading Jessica’s journey through all five books.

And because I can, here are some pictures of Annie Potts as Iona from Pretty in Pink:

Iona (Annie Potts) in Pretty in Pink (1986) 




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