Title: The Year of Secret Assignments
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Edition: Paperback Reprint
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Pages: 325 pp
(I'm trying out a new layout for reviews, like I saw Sara doing. Do you like it, or should I stick with the old one?)
So far, this is the 2nd book I've read for the B-day challenge, and both have been amazing. Good sign, huh? :)
This book BLEW me away! I don't know exactly what it is about Jaclyn Moriarty's books, but they never cease to blow me away, esp. Bindy Mackenzie. If you haven't read anything by her, well, WHY NOT?
Synopsis (from the cover)- Lydia, Emily and Cassie have always shared everything- guy problems, skipping school, even Significant Secret Assignments. But when they're given pen pals at rival Brookfeild High, they write forth in individual style:
Lydia: "Dear Person at Brookfield: I am a fish. You wouldn't think so to look at me, what with my uniform and the hair on top of my head and all that. But it'a true. I am a fish."
Emily: "My interests: Don't get me started about chocolate! My nickname might be 'Em', but it's also Toblerone! I think this is an angiogram of Thompson, which is my last name."
Cassie: "I always think it's funny when a teacher tries to be cool. I want to sit them down and say 'It's okay, you're a grown up, you're allowed to be a nerd,' and they will look up at me confused but also relieved and teary-eyed."
It turns out their pen pals are just as distinctive. Seb is a sensitive artist with a major soccer obsession. Charlie is a part time car thief and a completely sweet guy. And Matthew... well he's either a psychopath or a figment of Cassie's imagination, neither of which is a good thing. And what starts out as a simple letter exchange leads to spy missions, false alarms, lock picking, legal drama, parental edicts, mistaken identities, and an all-out war between the two schools-- not to mention Dates with Girls and some really excellent snogging (I love that word xD).
Plot: FanTAStic plot. Everything, right down to the tiniest detail, is all connected in a beautiful, exceedingly clever and subtle way, and you have to read really closely to get all the little nuances. It's exciting, romantic, hilarious, and slightly shady at points (best word? No clue :P) :)
Characters: LOVE the characters! I think my favorite was Lydia, and also Charlie. I found myself not liking Cassie that much at the beginning. Well, not that I DISliked her, I just didn't feel that much of a connection at first. But later on you start to like her. The book also has a great range of detailed, unique characters. And the best part? Remember her other 2 books I was raving aobut earlier? The characters are found in here as well! Bindy from The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie was featured in the letters, talking/typing a manuscript, things like that. I LOVED Bindy in her book, and I got so excited when I saw that (yes, I DO get excited too easily :P). Same goes for Elizabeth from Feeling Sorry for Celia (I didn't like that book as much, for the record, but still you should read it!). And I love how all the books tie in together with each others' plots and all. Oops, sorry, I'm done ranting.
Setting: It doesn't really have a setting, seeing as it's written in emails, letters, etc. But I LOVE that!
Start/ending: The beginning is Lydia's writing notebook, which her dad got her as a last minute b-day present. I think that those Notebook bits, sprinkled throughout the book, were my favorite parts. HILARIOUS! (Oops, sorry I keep doing that xD)
Overall: One of the best books I have read in quite a while. It has something for just about every one- crime, love, chick-lit, etc. Once again I'll shout FANTASTIC!
Ok, so 2 books down for the challenge, 6 to go. 1/4 done :)