Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty

Title: The Complete Jessica Darling series (Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, Perfect Fifths)
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Crown
Publishing Date: December 21st 2010 
Length: ebook, 1664 pages* 
Keywords: YA, contemporary romance, growing up, love, friendship
Source: Bought  

* I read the individual paperback editions published by Broadway, starting with Sloppy Firsts in August 2001

Growing Up Can Be Perfect in Its Imperfection 
The Jessica Darling series chronicles one young woman’s coming-of-age in the first decade of the 21st century. Over five books and ten years, Jessica Darling fumbles her way into adulthood. She evolves from a sixteen-year-old cynic, snarking in her diary about catty cliques, unrequited crushes, and other high school indignities, into a jet-setting twenty-six-year-old urbanite searching for more meaning in her life. Through all her misadventures in high school, college, and beyond, Jessica gets long-distance support from her best friend, Hope. But it's her on-again/off-again love of her life, Marcus Flutie, who can always be counted on to complicate her life in ways that are infuriating, intoxicating, and ultimately irresistible.

SLOPPY FIRSTS: Meet Jessica Darling—and fall for Marcus Flutie—in this high school comedy of many, many errors. 
A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful true-to-life look at sixteen-year-old Jessica's predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment—from the dark days after her best friend, Hope, moves away through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious "Dreg" who works his way into her heart.

SECOND HELPINGS: Can Jessica survive senior year without losing her mind . . . or her heart?
This time, Jess is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her last year at Pineville High.  Not only does the mysterious Marcus Flutie continue to distract her, but Hope still lives in another state, and she can't seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends.  To top it off, Jessica's parents won't get off her butt about choosing a college. Will Jess crack under the pressure of senioritis?

CHARMED THIRDS: Jessica is in college . . . and smart girls have more fun!
Jessica has finally left her hometown/hellhole for Columbia University; she's into Marcus more than ever (so what if he's at a Buddhist college in California), and she's making new friends. But Jess soon realizes that her bliss might not last. As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she fall for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA . . . or for the hot grad student she's assisting on a summer project . . . or for the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean?

FOURTH COMINGS:  Is the real world ready for Jessica Darling?
At first it seems like she's living the New York City dream. She's subletting an apartment with her best friend, working for a magazine that actually cares about her psychology degree, and is still deeply in love with Marcus. But when Marcus proposes—giving her only one week to answer—Jessica must decide if she's ready to give up a world of late-night literary soirees, art openings, and downtown drunken karaoke to move back to New Jersey and be with the one man who's gripped her heart for years.

PERFECT FIFTHS: Does Jessica and Marcus's journey end here? Or is it just the beginning? . . .
Now a young professional in her mid-twenties, Jess is off to a Caribbean wedding.  As she rushes to her gate at the airport, she literally runs into her former boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. It's the first time she's seen him since she reluctantly turned down his marriage proposal three years earlier—and emotions run high. They have both changed dramatically, yet their connection feels as familiar as ever. Is their reunion just a fluke, or has fate orchestrated this collision of their lives once again?

 Summary by Goodreads

This review cannot even express the sensation of perfect contentment I felt while being invited to stay in the wondrous world of Jessica Darling, queen of sarcasm and protagonist extraordinaire.
In her five-book series Megan McCafferty allows us to follow Jessica on her way from being a teenager to a young woman, with all the responsibilities and decisions awaiting her in future. It was great to witness everything going on in her life over such a long span of time. I didn't want to miss one single of her thoughts. Because even though I am not a teenager anymore, it felt so good to read on page what makes these years so angstful and exciting at the same time.

Every character contributes to the masterpiece of fun and hilarity -without ever forgetting that there's also the serious side of life- the Jessica Darling series stands for. I loved them all! Marcus Flutie, Jessica of course, her best friend Hope, the parents, her sister and her niece, to name only a few.
Marcus Flutie is the main love interest and an extreme case of changeability. It's obvious that he hasn't found his place in life yet, always restless, always changing his mind and his heart about his future, his goals and even Jessica. I'd subtitle this series 'The metamorphosis of Marcus Flutie'. Alternative and surely not mainstream, he always seems to be on an experimental trip. We don't get him more often than we do, but when we connect, it's in all the right ways.
Jessica is witty and her humour is the best. I laughed, I cried. I can’t believe how she always said and thought exactly what I was thinking. I wish I read this series much sooner. A revelation to every young adult reader!

Jessica and Marcus make mistakes, get together, seperate again. Life comes in the way, wrong decisions play a part. It's just too much to point out every turn their relationship or lives make. There are so many scenes that need to be all time favourites! You. Yes. You. Marcus Flutie you stole my heart. 
The first two books SLOPPY FIRSTS and SECOND HELPINGS are about Jessica's time in high school. CHARMED THIRDS covers her years in college, from 2003 to 2005. FOURTH COMINGS is about time after graduation and what she wants to do for a living. And PERFECT FITHS is an exception, starting a few years after her college years. It's not often that we get a glimpse of the characters out of their original highschool habitat, having started into their futures. This fifth book is also the final test, the last proof showing if Jessica and Marcus are meant to be together. And so that we can reconstruct all of their feelings, and memories of the past, Megan McCafferty served us two perspectives in this last book in the series. This time, we don't read the story from a 1st person point of view from Jessica as in the previous four books, but from a third person point of view of Jessica and Marcus. 

We are very lucky, because Jessica is keeping a diary. And the writing is as appealing as it is, because the story is written in the style of numerous diary entries. It has a very personal character and feels like we are just inside her head, going through everything she experiences and feeling as much love for Marcus Flutie as she does. Her writing is changing over the course of the series, especially in the fourth book, which is great, because it's a fab way to express change in her person or her ways of thinking.

This series is a guide for all young, sarcastic, lovable and insecure girls out there! Megan McCafferty, I thank you for all the hours of laughter and tears your novels brought into my house. You are a marvelous writer and I'm expecting to see many more books of you on my favourite shelves in the near future. I hope that we can find a version of that incredibly admirable and lovely Jessica Darling in all of us.

1) of being comfortable with each other in every state of nudity, physically and emotionally
2) of pop culture references, that might not be up to date, but just as much fun
3) Jessica's diary entries are the best
4) of a very hilarious work shop experience
5) of its feel-good guarantee

5/5 ***** JESSICA DARLING series -  Clever, romantic, sarcastic & so much more. YA at its best! 

SLOPPY FIRSTS recently had its 12th anniversary. Unbelieveable, but true. This series is in no way inferior to contemporary YA relatives in its originialty or actuality. This is a series that needs to be handed down to your kids, they will surely love to read about that Jessica Darling when they are growing up. And for everyone who hasn't read this series, I suggest you catch up on it now. It doesn't matter if you are 13 or 30, you will get and love it!


* Read an excerpt of SLOPPY FIRSTS!

* Watch the SLOPPY FIRSTS 10th anniversary tribute here.

* For further information about Megan McCafferty and her books, visit

1 comment:

  1. I've wanted to read this series for a while, but never even picked up the books at the library. I didn't want to read your entire review either, in fear that I might spoil some parts of the series for myself. Great review though, I love seeing entire series like this reviewed together :)