Friday, March 27, 2009

Perfect Fifths = Perfect Ending for a favorite character

Today's poetry selection comes from Megan McCafferty's upcoming novel, Perfect Fifths. One chapter is told entirely in senryu (a form similar to haiku, but more about human nature, than nature-nature), written between two characters.

XII. He writes

I like the way you
Fingertip-tap the paper
To count syllables

XIII. She writes

I like the way you
Silently lip-synch the words
To count syllables

XIV. He writes

So you've noticed, then
(I wonder what else you see
When you look at me)

XV. She writes

How about those Mets?
(Only what my heart can handle)
How about those Mets?

This is the final installment in the Jessica Darling series. Three and half years have passed since the end of Fourth Comings, and three and half years since Jessica and Marcus have seen each other, or spoken, or written.

Jessica is running through the Newark airport, trying desperately not to miss her flight down to St. Thomas for Bridget and Percy's wedding when she plows right into Marcus Flutie, which fulfills a voodoo prophecy he had received the week before. As Jessica tries desperately not to miss the wedding, Marcus tries desperately to not appear to desperate in front of Jessica, to not let on how he still has not gotten over her.

Perfect Fifths is not even a day long, tracking the time the two spend in awkward conversation at the airport, perpetually stalked by the also-stranded Barry Manilow International Fan Club. They try to catch up, but dance always around the issue of their romantic past, which is even more complicated than usual, given that the current 87th most-downloaded song on iTunes is something called "My Song Will Never Mean as Much (as the one he sang for you" which was written by Len Levy and, well, about them.

The only characters we really see are Jessica and Marcus, but we get updates on almost every character we have ever met in the series, as they fill each other in on the people they once knew, and those they still know. Marcus is very different than I remember him. This is not surprising, as he wasn't really in the last two books, and has just spent over three years at college. I would be worried if he hadn't changed. But, we didn't watch him change, so it took a little getting used to. I mean, he's still Marcus. He's just gotten over himself and is... acting like a grown-up. (Shocking at 26, I know.)

Even better though, we get a few chapters from Marcus's point of view. (The narrated sections of the book [so, not the senryu chapter] are all with an omniscient narrator, but they follow the actions and thoughts of either Jessica or Marcus.)

All in all, this was a most satisfying conclusion to the series. Jessica and Marcus are still the perfect foils for each other. Jessica's tired and worried, but her thoughts and tongue are as sharp as ever.

Fans need to read this. If you're not a fan, I'll just assume you haven't read them yet. Go pick up Sloppy Firsts and read it!

What I most loved about this, and about Fourth Comings, is that I long for books about 20-30 year olds that are above the usual chick-lit fare. Many people classify the Jessica Darling series as "chick lit", which I feel is not entirely accurate. Maybe it is, but it's smarter and more literary than most books in the field.

Anyway, a while ago, I posted about how I wished my favorite YA authors would write for my age group. The last two books in this series are what I'm wishing for. Books that are about people like me, women with careers and relationships, who aren't ridiculous caricatures of my darkest neurotic moments. Do you have any other recommendations for me? This is the type of book I long for.

Look for Perfect Fifths on April 14. And if you're in DC, come see Megan McCafferty in Tyson's Corner a few weeks later (just let ME ask the first Barry Manilow question, ok?)

Poetry Friday round up is over at The Drift Record.

UPDATE (3/28): I forgot to mention this yesterday, but Perfect Fifths was provided by the author, at my request. Also, I quoted the senryu from the ARC, so it might change in the final edition.


Becky said...

YOu make it sound so tempting...but I really didn't like the third one (though loved first two). I never braved the fourth. What to do, what to do...

Jennie said...

IIRC, you didn't like the third due to lack of Marcus, and didn't pick up the fourth, also due to low-Marcus content. But the fact that Jessica grew up and changed didn't bother you, right?

This will make a lot more sense if you read the fourth (or, if you want, I'll fill you in on the salient details) but it's all Marcus all the time.

Trisha said...

Ooh, fill me in, too.

You just convinced me to read Perfect Fifths, even though I only skimmed parts of Charmed Thirds and skipped Fourth Comings entirely.

Becky said...

I *should* seek the fourth one out. Especially since I won't get my hands on the fifth for awhile I think. When is it out? And what are the chances the library won't have a waiting list?

It is the lack of Marcus that I fear. I just so completely love and adore Marcus the thought of him not being there...drives me crazy!

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Myesha said...

I agree with what you said about this being not exactly "chick-lit." I can't wait for the DC event. :]