Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review: Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

Publication Date: April 14, 2009

Summary

It’s been three years since Jessica refused Marcus’ marriage proposal, and both of them have moved on with their lives. Jessica now works for the Do Better High School Storytellers Project, traveling across the country to work for ten weeks with groups of girls on finding a voice through writing. She has even found a mini-me in the dregs of Pineville, a cynical teenager with the unfortunate name of Sunny Dae, who gives Jessica meaning to her work. Meanwhile, Marcus has embraced college life, immersing himself in academia and humanitarian projects—and even an affair with an older woman—while elevating his campus reputation as the Sexy Enigmatic Older Man (for lack of a better term) to a sky-high level.

But have they really, truly moved on from each other? A literal collision at the airport as Jessica is latelatelate for a flight to a Caribbean wedding (guess whose!), and Jessica has run Marcus over, barreled straight back into his life as though she never left it. As IF she ever left his life, mind, or heart.

Now, stuck in one another’s company at the airport, Marcus and Jessica are forced to come face to face with their past and everything that they have been imperfect in for the last ten years of their lives. Now comes a resolution to a spellbinding series that is “perfect in its imperfection.”

Review

It’s unlikely that ardent Jessica Darling fans will be disappointed in this last book in the series, not after they have gone with Jessica through her periods of mistakes, growth, regressions, and maturing. PERFECT FIFTHS may start out a little slow, but through a clever and definitely spellbinding use of not-so-very-usual narrative tactics, we readers are taken through an ever deeper discussion and reflection on Marcus’ and Jessica’s bumpy decade-long relationship. We get to relive our favorite moments from the series. Barry Manilow gets extensive “play.” All of the characters that we have grown to love in their complex imperfection (even the truly wince-worthy ones, such as Sara) come back, in one form or another, like this is the fantastical finale to a colorful and dramatic musical.

But it is, of course, the characters of Marcus and Jessica that steal the show. Here is where we cut away all the adolescent and young adult B.S. they’ve been working through in the previous four books. Here is where they—and we readers—discover their true, eternal natures, the ones that their previous behaviors and thoughts were leading up to. This is why the phrase “perfect in their imperfection” is, well, perfect in this situation: what we learn of Marcus and Jessica in PERFECT FIFTHS complements yet improves our previous knowledge of them, and if you didn’t love them before, you’ll loooove them now. I’ve never been one to fangirl on male characters, but if you don’t fall in loooove with the Marcus Flutie that he becomes in this book, then there is no hope for you at all.

It’s always difficult to introduce new characters into a well-established group of characters, but—I don’t want to make assumptions here, because I know nothing, but it just seems this way—there seems to be the possibility of Sunny reappearing in Megan’s future books. Just saying. That’s what it seems like, a little. Just a random (hopeful?) hypothesis.

Also, some readers may be uncomfortable with some extended descriptions of sex and related body parts. While it did not bother me and I actually felt it lent itself wonderfully to the purpose of the book, I can understand why you might not want to let, say, your younger sister or daughter read it. Just wanted to let that be known; it shouldn’t bother most readers, nor should it detract from the reading experience.

Long story short (and without giving too much away; we can discuss the details of our reactions to the book at a later date), PERFECT FIFTHS is un-miss-able, a wonderfully cohesive montage of the previous books in the series, a brilliant ending to a towering achievement. I look forward impatiently to reading Megan’s future works outside of this series, as I think you all will too.

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - I've always been a fan of the Jessica Darling series' colors--their bright bold blocks of color, the vibrancy of the photos--even though they are slightly cliche for YA and chick lit. You know, the whole let's-lop-off-the-model's-head thing. But I like how it's (supposedly) Central Park that the model is standing on (although Central Park has never looked that green to me when I've gone there), and the high-rise buildings in the background. The relevance of this cover to the story is much more correlated than other covers-and-their-stories... but you will only find out after you read it. :)

22 comments:

  1. How old are they supposed to be in Perfect Fifths?

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  2. Brilliant review! I'm now ever MORE excited to read this, if that's even possible. I love Marcus, I love Jessica, and I can't wait to see how it ends!

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  3. I've not had a chance to read this series...I guess I have to, since everyone says nothing but great things about it.

    And I love the covers too ^^

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  4. Oooh, I want it, I want it NOW!

    Great review. I love Marcus already.

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  5. I have only read the first two but I really want to read the rest. great review!

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  6. Oh goodness, I have to start this series! I can't believe I haven't yet... they all look/sound so good!

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  7. I'll have to start this series - your enthusiasm for these characters pique MY interest :)

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  8. i just got my ARC of P5 this week...finished it in one night. i've been following marcus and jessica since the beginning...and live about 25 minutes from seaside and "pineville". the author's a kick and her writing is great. i'm posting a mini-pre-review next week...so stop by if you get a second. :)

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  10. Sounds like a good ending to the series.

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  11. I have been wanting to read this one FOREVER!
    but my bookstore doesnt have it...

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  12. Maureen McCaffrey's books aren't available in Australia. Until now I haven't been all that bothered by it but yours is the first review that has made me want to order the series. Thanks :)

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  13. The series sounds good, but I haven't read any of the books. I don't get so many chances to buy books, sadly.

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  14. Oh fun review. I'm so glad you like this series. I really need to read them, as I haven't read even ONE. lol but I'm glad it ended well, and I really like your reviews.

    -Lauren

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  15. This reminds me a bit of the Princess Diaries series.

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  16. I've been meaning to get around to read these series. Everyone sais they're amazing!

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  17. Thanks for the awesome review!!! Needless to say, I'm dying for this to reach my neck of the woods, because I need closure almost more than Jessica did =D

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  18. Those books have always looked really interesting to me. That one - from your description - sounds really, really like the kind of thing I would love. I really want to read it now. MUST GET TO LIBRARY.

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  19. I love this covers too. They are simple but with a lot of color^^
    I haven't read the book but I want to read.

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  20. I haven't read this series yet, but I really want to. The titles are pretty creative.

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  21. This sounds so fun! Will hunt it down and read shortly!

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  22. Another work I would not have picked up on my own. This is one of the biggest advantages of following a reviewer you respect: finding unexpected new reads. Thanks for the review, Steph.

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Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!

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