Book Review: Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty

Jessica Darling’s in college!

Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she’s more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, than ever (so what if he’s at a Buddhist college in California?); and she’s making new friends who just might qualify as stand-ins for her beloved best friend, Hope.

But Jessica soon realizes that her bliss might not last. She lands an internship at a snarky Brooklyn-based magazine, but will she fit in with the uberhip staff (and will she even want to)? As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she end up falling for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA . . . or the hot (and married!) Spanish grad student she’s assisting on a summer project . . . or the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it through college now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean?

With hilarious insight, the hyperobservant Jessica Darling struggles through her college years–and the summers in between–while maintaining her usual mix of wit, cynicism, and candor.

My Review: 3 cupcakes

Unlike Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds took place over the span of four years in Jessica’s life. As a result, a lot of events in Jessica’s life were glossed over, and the emotional impacts of her actions weren’t quite as prevalent as in the first two installments.

While Jessica’s voice was just as engaging as before, I was rather unimpressed with her character. She made a lot of very poor decisions, which I’m still not sure she’s learned from. A large component of college life is trying to discover who you are and what you desire from life, but it just felt like Jessica was going about it in all the wrong ways.

As Jessica’s character became more and more frustrating, Marcus’ character became almost saint-like. He underwent a tremendous amount of growth and self-discovery in his limited amount of page time, and I can’t wait to see where this reformed bad boy is going to go next.

Jessica’s parents and sister played important roles in Charmed Thirds. An important part of growing up is realizing that your parents aren’t perfect and that they’re human, which is something that Jessica discovers as she learned to understand and sympathize with them.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy Charmed Thirds as much as I enjoyed the rest of the previous Jessica Darling books. However, I’m not ready to give up on the series quite yet, so hopefully it picks up again in the next book!

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