When I first opened this book, I expected to be reading about a whiny, angsty teenager. I was pleasantly surprised by the very clever Jessica Darling. Her thoughts and opinions are the kinds of things I can remember thinking to myself in high school. Well, Jessica has more wit than I did, but the basic ideas are the same. I also expected to loathe Marcus, since he was the bad boy who encouraged the late Heath in his drug addictions, but again I was too quick to judge. Marcus is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever come across. In this early book of the series, he puts on quite a show. Jessica seems to be the only one noticing it. I was just as surprised as Jessica to find that their friendship is as easy as breathing. It’s something Jessica hasn’t actually grasped at this point in the series, but I did. See, Marcus doesn’t pretend, ever.
Jessica, on the other hand, is a master at pretending. That is, except when she’s with Marcus. With Marcus she can be herself. She doesn’t have to worry about offending or stepping over the line because that’s something he does to others daily. I realize that I’m focusing a lot on the characters, but that’s because I feel like the characters really make this book.
If there’s a theme to this book I would lean toward the consequences of judgement. This book is full of examples of Jessica’s poor judgement of others coming back to haunt her. She is constantly misjudging people, though some of that doesn’t become apparent in this volume. I think that this dilemma is mainly due to the fact that she spends so much time in her own world and her own thoughts that she fails to observe things closely. It’s a character flaw that I share with her. I’m often oblivious to the problems of others because I can’t get out of my own head long enough to notice what’s really going on. It amazes me that her friends are so forgiving of this characteristic, but then again so are mine. I suppose that’s what is so wonderful about friends.
The writing itself is nothing terribly special. McCafferty is very witty, but matter-of-fact in her writing. There’s no pretty analogies. It’s just Jessica’s thoughts, plain and simple. I like this because it’s appropriate for this story. It’s also similar to the way I write, so I suppose I would appreciate it.
I’ve read through the third book of this series, so I have more to go on than this book. The thing that has me loving these books is not the writing or even really the plot. There is just something very unique about Marcus and Jessica. Maybe it’s that they’re much more real than the usual characters I come across in books. I can relate to them or I know people just like them. That’s always something I look for in the books I read.