BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Not satisfied with a first or second helping, we crave more.
This is why people demand a “super size” meal, why there are least one hundred Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and why Megan McCafferty chose to continue the trials and tribulations of Jessica Darling in her latest novel, Charmed Thirds.
This book is yet another example of why more isn’t always better.
McCafferty’s first two novels follow Jessica as she completes her sophomore, junior, and senior year at a suburban high school.
Told in the from of journal entries, Miss Darling expresses her distain for the popular airheads, her annoyance at her physical appearance, and her desperation to get out of her small town and on to bigger, better things.
The tale is not unlike the 100 or more young adult books that have come out in the last 10 years, narrated by the teen loner who believes high school akin to hell.
What made this story stand out was McCafferty’s smart wit and expansive vocabulary. The third installment, however, does not live up to Sloppy Firsts, or Second Helpings. Charmed Thirds begins Jessica’s college years with the same combination of sarcasm and wordplay that had made her high school days so entertaining, but by the middle, her woe-is-me attitude becomes extremely irritating.
Blaming everyone but herself for her problems and viewing the world through cynical eyes even more tainted by her newly acquired psychological expertise, she goes from pessimistic to downright depressing.
A literary dementor, the book hits bottom with Jessica’s epiphany, “We all die alone.”
In the last 50 pages that I’m sure couldn’t have been written by whoever wrote the first 400, her mental state changes from semi-suicidal to shockingly hopeful.
That’s fine for her, but it’s readers who find themselves contemplating the meaningless of life after reading her many rants and raves driving that point home.
So while I suggest reading up on the life and times of Jessica, I do advise the skipping Charmed Thirds.
Molly Horan is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.