Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review: Perfect Fifths

Title: Perfect Fifths
Author: Megan McCafferty
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Rating: D+

Abbreviated Summary: This book is the conclusion of the Jessica Darling Series (my review of books one through four is here) and tells of one 18-hour period that occurs three years after Jessica says she won't marry Marcus Flutie (because she's clinically insane... in my opinion) and Marcus writes her a letter that says "whatever" (because he's completely fictional). Jessica and Marcus quite literally run into one another in the airport and then spend the rest of the day talking (and very little else... which I'll get to that as a literary device) and then go back to a hotel for the inevitable coupling (so obviously inevitable).

Review: So I think I've made it clear already by my rating (listed above) and my half-crapped summary that I couldn't even be bothered to copy from or from the inside jacket copy what I thought of this book that I went out and bought in hardback version during its first week of release and bought. I'll also enter into evidence that (compared to the first four books that I read in about three days), this one took me nearly a week to plug through.

The book dragged, was slow, wasn't a quick read, crawled like a turtle (and 7,000 other examples of being a very boring book). I wanted to try to find the 7,000 other adjectives and write them all here so you'd get an example of what it was like to read Perfect Fifths because she was ridiculously repetitive it wasn't even funny.

Here is the funny thing, though: You'd think she'd have been repetitive during the 80+ page conversation (literally just conversation, nothing else), but she wasn't... that part was seriously fantastic. Great. Wonderful. Awe-inspiring writing. Yeah, you get my point on that. It was a really great plot device because she brought us into this insulated relationship and just let us peer around for 80 pages and read their words (without any [or maybe a few, but I don't remember them] internal monologues). The reason this is so fantastically cool was because for the entirety of Jessica & Marcus' relationship, it's been built on double meanings, and this time we got to play with them ourselves, figure out which things were real and which weren't on our own. We stretched our literary legs and had a good time.

The only (very minor) issue I had with this long section was that sometimes I got a little confused about who was talking (because sometimes it would switch around if somebody didn't respond in turn), but I could usually tease it out with a little re-reading (and from the context). Just (if you're planning on using this plot device in your next novel), I'd recommend throwing in the occasional, "[Insert Character's Name] said," when you're switching up the back-and-forth.

Here is where she drags: Any time she writes from Jessica's POV. It's so bad that I wanted to claw my eyes out. (I didn't though, instead I opted for skimming.) You know, as an author, I think it has to be like a knife to the heart when readers say they skimmed the words that you spent hours, days, months, etc., pouring over. Sorry, Megan... sucks to be you.

You want an example? Here's an example: After Marcus and Jessica go back to the hotel for the oh-so-obvious set-up to their re-coupling, Jessica falls asleep and has a series of dreams that "speak to her" and tell her that Marcus is her true love. Yep, you read that right people, I said a SERIES of dreams. Three in total. I got it after one. If you wanted the imagery of all three, then just weave them together (that's the beauty of dreams, they don't make any sense so you could have had the chick with the brain injury on the beach for the wedding).

Another reason why the dreams were so painful to read is because (in my obviously cynical and humble opinion) it totally jacked up the pacing. On McCafferty's website she did, like, a top 10 of reasons to buy the book (or teasers or something else PR-ish), and number ten was, "Four words: Marcus Flutie shower scene." First things first, I didn't buy the book for the shower scene. Second things second, the shower scene wasn't all lusty, but still his internal angst and dialogue was being cut away from to get to all of Jessica's repetitive dreams, and it was just so very bad because his shower (and not even really that it's "a shower scene") was infinitely better than the dreams because he was having a real epiphany. She messed that up and I say, "BOO!" to her editor(s).

All that to say, if you've read the first four, pick this up (I'd recommend saving money until this shows up on a bargain table or is in paperback or at the 1/2 Price Resale store) and put it in your bathroom and read it in five minute segments. [The D+ signifies that she passed, but just barely. I was sorry to do it, because I loved the character of Marcus, but this series (for me) just did a progressive down-hill slide from the peak at book #1 straight through to the end. Sorry, Megs, I'm sure you worked your butt off, but at least you've got a slightly smaller butt to show for your efforts (and a hefty advance).]

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I had trouble telling who said what during that 2nd half too!