Okay, prepare yourself for rambling and gushing, because this is the best. Megan. McCafferty. Book. Ever. Seriously. Find it. Read it. Do it now!!!
A gander at the Amazon reviews shows that most people do not agree with me. The reviews are quite a bell curve, with the middle ranks getting the bulk of the love. I attribute this to three things. A) Most people are not like me. That is, they do not devour with equal excitement both Gossip Girl and Feed. They do not consider Les Liaisons dangereuses on equal literary merit with 1984. I don’t have a really crazy, active girly side, but I do have a girly side. Okay, no, maybe it’s just that I really like stories about people behaving badly, whether they’re behaving badly socially or behaving badly morally. Anyway, I get that I’m in the minority. B) People who are reading this books are coming either from the dystopian camp or from the McCafferty fangirl camp, and they’re both feeling disappointed, because this book is a beautiful meshing of both. C) People are not very good at reading against the narrator of the story, and can’t tell that McCafferty is skillfully arguing against the viewpoints of both of her protagonists by presenting what each girl thinks exactly the way that girl would think it. In other words, she doesn’t go out of her way to make these girls look clueless. You, as the reader, have to do that work yourself. Maybe a better way to state this is that the readers are recognizing that the girls are clueless, but for some unknown reason, are translating their dislike of the protagonists’ viewpoints into a dislike of the book in general. Which I don’t understand, because it’s one of the reasons the book is so freaking brilliant!!
What’s the book about? Essentially this: What if, in the not-so-distant future, only teenagers could get pregnant?
McCafferty’s created quite a world here, with her own slang reminiscent of Heathers. The girls don’t speak like modern teenagers, but they are so completely and realistically teenagers. She’s so, so good at that. The minutia of the setting created is really well done, so much so that from page one, you feel as if you’ve been sucked into an alternate universe. (Which apparently some people don’t like, which speaks to a preference for a passive reading experience that kind of disgusts me, but whatever.)
I just…I had no idea McCafferty had it in her. I didn’t know she could write such an intelligent and difficult book and also make it so darned fun. The Jessica Darling books were heart-breaking in their reality, but this book takes that same verisimilitude and applies it to a futuristic world, enabling questions like, “Are we oversexing our youth?” and “Do parents attempts to do the best for their children serve only to smother their ability to become individuals?” and “Does a free market system actually enable just as much oppression as a directly controlled one?” and “What is the role of reproduction in female empowerment?”
It’s heady stuff, kids.
McCafferty does feature a very religious character, but she takes the high road and does not overtly attack faith itself. Instead, she focuses on issues like sexism, choice, and the ability to think for oneself. To her credit, I believe, she also shows that the opposite side of the spectrum is just as malicious. It’s an attack on fanaticism, not an attack on religion.
Finally, who missed Marcus? Show of hands?
He’s back. Zen is totally Marcus! I hadn’t realized how much I missed Marcus. God, he’s adorable. (This got me thinking. Do I do this too? Are all of my male romance interests the same guy? Do tell. Inquiring minds want to know.)