Old flames are reignited in the fifth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series.
Captivated readers have followed Jessica through every step and misstep: from her life as a tormented, tart-tongued teenager to her years as a college grad stumbling toward adulthood. Now a young professional in her mid-twenties, Jess is off to a Caribbean wedding. As she rushes to her gate at the airport, she literally runs into her former boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. It’s the first time she's seen him since she reluctantly turned down his marriage proposal three years earlier–and emotions run high.
Marcus and Jessica have both changed dramatically, yet their connection feels as familiar as ever. Is their reunion just a fluke or has fate orchestrated this collision of their lives once again?
Told partly from Marcus’s point of view, Perfect Fifths finally lets readers inside the mind of the one person who’s both troubled and titillated Jessica Darling for years. Expect nothing less than the satisfying conclusion fans have been waiting for, one perfect in its imperfection. . .
Megan McCafferty writes fiction for tweens, teens and teens-at-heart of all ages. The author of twelve novels, she’s best known for SLOPPY FIRSTS and four more sequels in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series--available throughout 2021 in updated 20th anniversary editions. She published two new books in 2020: TRUE TO YOUR SELFIE (MG, Scholastic) and THE MALL (YA, Wednesday Books). Described in her first review as “Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker” (Wall Street Journal), she’s been trying to live up to that high standard ever since.
Perfect Fifths basically reads like a Fanfic. A Fanfic for those who didn’t like the ending of book 4.
In my opinion, this book was completely unnecessary and I think the author secretely thought so, too, seeing as she couldn’t even come up with a real story. One third of the book consists of weird poems or dialogues in the fashion of
Way to come up with the required number of pages...
To everyone who contemplates reading this series: Read book 1 and 2 and then be done with it.
Alright, heads up, here comes a more detailed explanation why I didn’t like the book and it’s full of spoilers.
Why the hell did I have to listen to Jessica explaining why she should NOT be with Marcus in book 4 if they end up together in book 5 anyway? I mean, she filled two friggin notebooks with reasons why she shouldn’t be with him! I don’t know about you but that felt kind of final to me.
It’s a pity, I enjoyed book 1 and 2, I really did, but the cramp that followed was just unnecessary and disappointing.
Jessica’s and Marcus’ story gets drawn out way too long. In the first two books their romance was cute, there was some back and forth and some "does he really like me or am I just a friend to him?" Really, Marcus and Jessica were just adorable. In book 3 their relationship hits rock bottom and after Jessica cheats on Marcus they break up. Marcus simply vanishes off the face of the earth for 2 years and I already got used to the idea that Jess and I would probably never see him again but then, out of the blue, he shows back up again at the end of book 3 and, surprise surprise, they get back together. This sounds like I’m trying to make it short but no, that’s actually how it happens. At this point I already started feeling weird about this series, Marcus had been gone for 2 years, after all and I didn’t understand how they could get back together just like that but ok...I wanted them back together and even though I thought that the whole scenario was totally improbable I was happy. Well...until book 4. Book 4 starts with Jessica sitting in a bar and thinking about how to break things off with Marcus. My reaction: WTF??? They just got back together!! Anyways, Jessica leaves the bar and goes to see Marcus with the intention of ending things with him which results in Marcus proposing to Jessica. She doesn’t know how to reply so she gets 1 week time to consider. The entire fourth book is about how Jessica comes to the conclusion that she shouldn’t be with Marcus and ends with Jessica saying goodbye to Marcus once and for all. Or so I thought...guess I was wrong.
I finally finished this series, and my overwhelming feeling is that I'm SO glad I don't have to read any more of these books! I enjoyed the first 3, but these last two books were awful to get through.
This book felt so unnecessary and very much like an afterthought.
Perfect Fifths covers less than 24 hours. It was painfully slow. It takes Jessica several chapters to run a few yards because of all the meandering narrative. It took Marcus 5 chapters to undress for a shower.
This is the first time this story has been told in 3rd person instead of through Jessica's diary entries. Marcus as told in 3rd person was not the Marcus we know. He's been changed into another version of snarky Jessica. I'm running on the theory that this novel was actually another of Jessica's diaries that she wrote in 3rd person because she mentions that's a writing exercise she does sometimes (though this is never confirmed), which might account for him acting so much like Jess, except that she's never portrayed him as this judgmental in her previous writings. Basically, it just felt like McCafferty had trouble distinguishing her characters all of a sudden, or gave Marcus a character overhaul just to make the events in this book work.
McCafferty couldn't settle on a writing style in this book either. The entire middle section of the book was all dialogue (confusing to keep track of who was saying what), one section was all haiku, another was a long poem. It just didn't feel like a complete novel to me, but a draft.
Problematic things: There are several anti-Muslim jokes. The 'r' word is used a couple times. The only lesbian character is yet again portrayed in a harmful way - a cheater, jealous, gay just because she can't have the man she wants, gets slut shamed AND slut shames others. I forgave this stuff in the first books when Jess was a high school student in 2001, but by now I'm just over it.
McCafferty really nailed the millennial high school experience, college experience, and to some extent the job hunt experience. It's raw, it's real. But its delivery was tiring after 5 books. There is value in this series for those who need to see their early 2000s school life rehashed, but I hesitate to recommend this series to most people.
It pains me to rate this book so low because the rest of the series was so good. This last book though seemed like an afterthought, a way to tack on a nice, pat, happy ending despite the fact that these characters have grown-up and moved on. But even if the premise of this book (which is really just a alternate ending to the fourth book in the series) was entirely plausible there were a few other things I just couldn't get over.
First there was the annoying critical theory speak that plagues the speech of many students. But here's the thing, they are supposed to be all grown up in this book! They are at least well into their mid-twenties! Jessica turn 26 in this book and Marcus is still a student but he's freakin' older than Jessica and should know better. When you refer to Lacanian theory in normal conversation in college you think you sound cool. But with adulthood you realize that you sound pretentious and smug.
The other bothersome thing was the weird fetishism of Marcus's body. This little tome was littered with references to Marcus's man-parts and even included a several page long strip tease. I just wasn't sure what to make of it. Maybe Megan McCafferty was trying to be subverssive? Or maybe I just wasn't as in love with Marcus as the author seems to be.
It’s been three years since Jessica refused Marcus’ marriage proposal, and both of them have moved on with their lives. Jessica now works for the Do Better High School Storytellers Project, traveling across the country to work for ten weeks with groups of girls on finding a voice through writing. She has even found a mini-me in the dregs of Pineville, a cynical teenager with the unfortunate name of Sunny Dae, who gives Jessica meaning to her work. Meanwhile, Marcus has embraced college life, immersing himself in academia and humanitarian projects—and even an affair with an older woman—while elevating his campus reputation as the Sexy Enigmatic Older Man (for lack of a better term) to a sky-high level.
But have they really, truly moved on from each other? A literal collision at the airport as Jessica is latelatelate for a flight to a Caribbean wedding (guess whose!), and Jessica has run Marcus over, barreled straight back into his life as though she never left it. As IF she ever left his life, mind, or heart.
Now, stuck in one another’s company at the airport, Marcus and Jessica are forced to come face to face with their past and everything that they have been imperfect in for the last ten years of their lives. Now comes a resolution to a spellbinding series that is “perfect in its imperfection.”
It’s unlikely that ardent Jessica Darling fans will be disappointed in this last book in the series, not after they have gone with Jessica through her periods of mistakes, growth, regressions, and maturing. PERFECT FIFTHS may start out a little slow, but through a clever and definitely spellbinding use of not-so-very-usual narrative tactics, we readers are taken through an ever deeper discussion and reflection on Marcus and Jessica’s bumpy decade-long relationship. We get to relive our favorite moments from the series. Barry Manilow gets extensive “play.” All of the characters that we have grown to love in their complex imperfection (even the truly wince-worthy ones, such as Sara) come back, in one form or another, like this is the fantastical finale to a colorful and dramatic musical.
But it is, of course, the characters of Marcus and Jessica that steal the show. Here is where we cut away all the adolescent and young adult B.S. they’ve been working through in the previous four books. Here is where they—and we readers—discover their true, eternal natures, the ones that their previous behaviors and thoughts were leading up to. This is why the phrase “perfect in their imperfection” is, well, perfect in this situation: what we learn of Marcus and Jessica in PERFECT FIFTHS complements yet improves our previous knowledge of them, and if you didn’t love them before, you’ll loooove them now. I’ve never been one to fangirl on male characters, but if you don’t fall in loooove with the Marcus Flutie that he becomes in this book, then there is no hope for you at all.
It’s always difficult to introduce new characters into a well-established group of characters, but—I don’t want to make assumptions here, because I know nothing, but it just seems this way—there seems to be the possibility of Sunny reappearing in Megan’s future books. Just saying. That’s what it seems like, a little. Just a random (hopeful?) hypothesis.
Also, some readers may be uncomfortable with some extended descriptions of sex and related body parts. While it did not bother me and I actually felt it lent itself wonderfully to the purpose of the book, I can understand why you might not want to let, say, your younger sister or daughter read it. Just wanted to let that be known; it shouldn’t bother most readers, nor should it detract from the reading experience.
Long story short (and without giving too much away; we can discuss the details of our reactions to the book at a later date), PERFECT FIFTHS is un-miss-able, a wonderfully cohesive montage of the previous books in the series, a brilliant ending to a towering achievement. I look forward impatiently to reading Megan’s future works outside of this series, as I think you all will too.
I guess one way to end the Jessica Darling series with a bang is to make your readers never want to hear from her or Marcus (a.k.a. Edward Cullen on a yoga bender) ever again. It's laughable how many times McCafferty talks about how sexy and fuckable Marcus is in the span of only some 300 pages. I felt like she was channelling StephEnie Meyer in a major way, especially when I finally finished and flipped to the back cover flap to the author's pic -- surprise!! She looks like a description of Jessica Darling.
There was also some side plot with a girl who Jessica mentors that was in an accident that I think we were supposed to care about but it was so poorly developed that I can't imagine anyone actually did. Her name was something ridiculous like Sunny Daze. Oh, and I guess Bridget and Percy got married but the author didn't care so we didn't see it. Jess+Marcus 4eva y'all~ -- that is a SPOILER, by the way and actually the entire plot.
My advice to those who want to read the final installment of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series? Don't.
Why so harsh? you may ask. It's just one more book and you can be satisfied knowing the ending, right?
This book was so incredibly painful to get through. I thought it was bad enough that in Fourth Comings Jessica wrote to Marcus instead of for herself, changing the whole dynamic and dulling the clever wit into purple prose. Here, McCafferty employs so many writing gimmicks it is hard to stay focused. Jessica and Marcus run into one another at EWR as Jessica narrowly misses her flight to Bridget and Pepe's island wedding (awww! seriously, knowing that the two are getting married was the most satisfying part of the book). The POV switches from Marcus to Jessica and back again, and we get a sense of what went on in their lives in the last three years. Jessica works as a writing workshop coordinator, and part of her plot involves her relationship with one of the girls she taught in Pineville that's now stuck in a coma. Basically, the coma-girl becomes a plot device instead of a well rounded character.
You can pretty much predict what's going to happen, right down to the plot devices, as it's written like a cheap Hollywood film or, as one other review here put it, a bad fanfic. But the POV switching, the chapter in haiku, and the notebook conversation make this one unbearable. If you want to finish the series with your good opinion of Jessica Darling intact, do yourself a favor and DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!
I'll give it a 3 because i love this series and it really wasn't that bad. BUT i was pretty disappinted with "Perfect Fifths". First of all, i hated the third person narrative. i wanted to be comforted by Jessica's perspective. Even splitting the book with chapters Marcus wrote would have been better. But reading this in third person? i just felt disconnected and confused. I kept thinking the 3rd person was just an intro and i waiiitteed for it to switch to 1st. Their wasn't even a letter or anything to warm the reader up like there usually is in this series: an explanation to help the reader know where this is all going... And the prosopopeia references?! This made me even more expectant of an explanation. I wish it could have ended with Jessica/Marcus saying something about how the this was a journal of their combined stories in PROSOPOPEIA. Anything to make be feel less lost. From the begining i assumed (stupidly, i guess) that this was just Marcus's style of narrating and at the end everything would be made clear. Needless to say, i was extremely bummed to find i was wrong.
(do you think the 3rd person was meant as a way to distance the reader from the characters and prevent them from thinking they were all the same people they were 3 years ago?)
a lot of marcus and jess's conversation can only be described as PRETENTIOS PRETENTIOUS PRETENTIOUS. even them calling themselves OUT on their ridiculous, unnecessary showing off was pretentious. serious question: do people really talk like that to one another? and if so how can they STAND themselves? its one thing to be clever, but through some of their dialouge i was gagging. plus, some parts of it are so heavily referential that there is no way to decode it without using wikipedia.
another thing that was hard to belive was that every main character in the book has reached some sort of fame. was not the whole point of the early book's pineville setting that pineville was a dump where no one was successful? so how is that everyone we know from pineville was successfull! it is OK to have some failing characters. not everyone has to reach fulfillment at 27. the way things went in this book i feel like megan should have just killed off every character on page 255 because it doesn't seem like their lives could get any more "perfect"
so Marcus!!!?!? After reading this book i felt like not only did i have absolutely no clue who marcus really is, but was not even sure i LIKED him anymore. I was disenchanted. Having insight into Marcus's thoughts ruined his mysteriousness, which no doubt was the point. I guess i just wasn't ready for it. Marcus has always been a GOD to me, but after this i was just like yaawwwwwn. I understand that it was supposed to show the last reincarnation of Marcus. This is the "core" marcus. But he's a NERD. and he's BORING? WTH. I expected to be wowed by a combination of the geniousness of his teen years and the calm buddhist ways of his 20s. Instead i was affronted by his immaturity (in the natty scenes) and lack of originality. What was with the name calling? "pampers", "booster seat", "brokeback"- it was all very lame.
Maybe if some of it was in marcus FIRST person i would have been reasured that yes this was the same person i'd come to (think i) know and love. But after reading the book through once, all i want to do now is go re-read slopey firsts and hope it renews my faith in his awesomeness.
I was especially repulsed by the way we kept having to read about all the marcus-obsession on campus and just well..everywher(JONELLE). Marcus is hot. belivvvvve us we know. but the anecdotes emphasizing his irresistabily was a turn OFF. I even felt like marcus might be a tad conceited despite all his insisting he didn't care or disliked the attention. whateverrrr. (methinks he doth protest to much...)
And did anyone get the gay-vibe from him. I won't get into that but... Their conversation made me realize how much I NEEDED Jessica's insight and first hand perspective to analyze marcus's tone and EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME.
And Natty!? Dear dear young natty. my goodness what happpened! once so sweet, so cute! now corrupted by college life and just plain obnoxious! ughh. maybe it would have been better if natty and marcus were foils but they weren't even that. It was like they fed of each others stupidity.
and then there is Jess. Of course we all love jess. we all strive to be as funny, clever, smart, and articulate as jessica. but what made you wish you were just like her in the first and second books got a little worrisome in the 3rd and 4th book. though it's obvious that she did mature some in the 4th, overall she has been a pretty static character. i relate to jess (as we all do) so much that i lonnngeed to see change in her character if only so i knew that i too could and would outgrow my immature cynical failings. reading perfect fifths,though, it seems that jessica at 26 has barely if at all progressed more than me at 16. do i know this for sure? no. why? because she wasn't NARRATING.
another thing that, though small, was still very dissappointing was the SHOWER SCENE! helloooo but when i think of a shower scene i generally think of two people. in the shower. together. not one. jacking off. ALONE. maaannnnn
DESPITE ALL OF THIS CRITICISM i did enjoy this book. sure i found myself occasionaly skimming (i know. and i never have with this series before...) but there were funny parts. lots. and plllennntyy of parts where i was squealling and kicking my legs. dissappointing or not, this book wraps everything up in away that lets the reader say goodbye to the characters knowing everything will be ok. and i still do love marcus armstrong flutie :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
She wakes up, bleary-eyed, at 6:30AM. She has known about this gig, singing an opera for an elementary school, for several weeks. She stumbles to the bathroom and is surprised, when she sees her reflection, to find she still is wearing barrettes in her hair from the day before.
She had planned on going to bed at a decent hour to make today's early wake-up as painless as possible. What she hadn't planned on was receiving her copy of Perfect Fifths yesterday.
All day at work the book with its vibrant pink cover had tempted her. She would sneak quick peeks at the book when she thought her supervisor wasn't watching, but daring only to read a paragraph or two at at a time. What cares she of properly-formatted em dashes when she is dying to find out what happens after Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie run into each other--literally--at the airport?
She doesn't have a free moment until the evening, when finally she curls up on the couch with her laptop nearby so she can make note of quotes that especially grab her. There are moments where her breath catches from perfectly-worded phrases illustrating just how much, and how deeply, Marcus is affected when his marriage proposal is rejected by Jessica in the last book, three years ago in their time.
She is impatient when it seems as though it takes forever for the two after their collision to be together again, talking, and once they start, she wishes they'd never stop. She is frustrated at the way they seem to dance around the real issues, but she knows she would do the same in their shoes.
She occasionally Tweets words that make her laugh out loud:
"Clusterfuckery"! (p. 27) about 17 hours ago from web
"Sexorcism"! (p. 41) about 16 hours ago from web
"Meatbat"! (p. 46) about 16 hours ago from web
"Frankenskank"! (p. 51) about 16 hours ago from web
"Lasso-dicking"! (p. 62) about 16 hours ago from web
"Hand-jobby"! (p. 83) about 15 hours ago from web
"Lasso-dickery"!* p. 194 about 13 hours ago from web
*Yes, she realizes "lasso-dicking" and "lasso-dickery" are very similar, but the "dickery" part is new and makes her giggle, and therefore is Tweetable.
When she reaches p. 188, she wants to shout to the world, "OMG MARCUS IS UNDRESSING IN MINUTE DETAIL," but she feels that would be improper.
She also Tweets, "OMG *murfle* is in the *glizzle* with *smurfle*, and I can't wait to find out what happens!" around midnight, when she gets to the part with the Here hotel. (about 13 hours ago from web )
At 11:11PM, she changes her Facebook status to: "Phrase 'epic fail' appears on p. 122, i.e. 1-22, i.e. my birthday: I'm considering it a shout-out."
Her friends think she is insane.
No matter. It all comes down to the final Tweet around 1:30AM: "DONE! And happy" (about 12 hours ago from web).
She really feels Jessica and Marcus have grown up, and that they will forever be drawn to each other with a force like a planet's gravitational pull, that they are two parts of one whole (or as the book puts it, "bodies [that:] fit together like a living breathing yin-yang" [p. 251:]), but most importantly, that they finally, FINALLY understand this fact about the other. She almost cries when she reads "He always loved her because of, not in spite of, her flaws. Her biggest flaw, in his mind, was her inability to believe that was true" (p. 52). It's a sentiment she's expressed herself, almost verbatim, about the difference between high school and her life now: that her friends love her because of her quirks, not in spite of. And that's what makes this series so special to her, that these misunderstood misfits find each other, make the other feel special, lose each other, make mistakes, become sometimes hard to like, but grow up, and find each other again. Because that's how life goes, if we're lucky.
Here is where the review should end, but she cannot help adding some random other thoughts.
Part of her wishes there were an epilogue, a guarantee that things end up all right, but she believes that these kids are going to make it. She wishes she could have seen Bridget and Percy's wedding and evidence of many Darling-Flutie babies, but the promise of a tomorrow together is enough for now. And she'd rather have a promise of something wonderful than a cheesy, tacked-on epilogue *cough*DeathlyHallows*cough*.
Also, she cannot stop giggling at the phrase "Marcus contemplates his cock" (p. 194). Because even after over three decades on this earth, inside she will always be twelve years old.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
There was nothing good to say about this book. I'm literally going to pretend it's not even apart of the series. I love this series, it's very dear to me. This book did nothing for me. It took place within a few hours and hours at an airport and is mostly from Marcus' POV. It was NOT the ending that i wanted for this series. also it was a supper short book. again there is nothing about this book made me happy.
At this point, the only option left for me is to take every single series/trilogy/duology finale and dump it into a giant cardboard box, tightly wrapped with duct tape, haul it into my attic and then write "Do Not Open Until 2014" on it. Quite simply put, this year is just not my year for series conclusion. I have yet to read a satisfying end to a series I have stuck with and loved and while Perfect Fifths may be the best series finale I read this year, that really isn't saying a whole lot. Unfortunately.
Frankly speaking, though, I was thoroughly enjoying this book until the last third emerged. While most readers found the shift into third person perspective jarring, I found it fit into the narration beautifully, switching between the thoughts of both Jessica and Marcus as these two bump into each other - literally - and later catch up through that ever-so-awkward conversation that laces the nostalgia and memories of their past. And all this was perfect. Granted, their conversation may have been a little pretentious, but it was real for these two and their time spent together was so heavily palpable with strangeness and connection. Moreover, the underlying theme of destiny and fate was beautifully interwoven into the tale - the utter inevitability of their meeting as if pre-destined by the heavens.
And yet, while this book is a enjoyable novel, it is not the satisfying ending I was hoping for. A quick analogy first though, yes?
I WISH OUR LOVE WAS RIGHT NOW AND
I WISH OUR LOVE WAS RIGHT NOW AND FOREVER. WHATEVER.
Perfect Fifths: (Expectation)
I WISH OUR LOVE WAS RIGHT NOW AND FOREVER. WHATEVER. FOREVER.
Perfect Fifths: (Reality)
I WISH OUR LOVE WAS RIGHT NOW AND FOREVER. WHATEVER. AND
For me, at any rate, Perfect Fifths was not the finality of FOREVER or WHATEVER but rather the continuation of AND. Jessica and Marcus meet in an airport and catch up and realize they still have feelings for one another and...and...and what Megan McCafferty? What happens next? After Fourth Comings, which was both realistic in terms of their relationship and moving in terms of growth, I truly expected Perfect Fifths to solidify exactly why Marcus and Jessica were perfect for each other - not just RIGHT NOW but FOREVER. Not just in this re-incarnation of Marcus Flutie, but in every re-incarnation of Marcus Flutie.
And while I don't deny that the events of Perfect Fifths are utterly plausible for the romance arc between these two, it didn't wholly tie up the loose ends. Jessica and Marcus, for all I know, could break up again after this book. Since Jessica's feelings were realized in such a flimsy and rushed manner, that utter finality I wanted, that feeling that everything was going to be alright for these two no matter what hurdles came their way, was absent. And frankly speaking, I will probably be eighty with gray hairs and still wondering if these two really made it and got married and lived imperfectly ever after or not. Of course, this probably has something to do with my love of ambiguous endings (and the fact that I totally adored the ending of Fourth Comings) but I suspect much of it lies with the fault of this novel as well.
Even romance aside - for this book really does read like a romantic comedy movie script in prose - what makes Jessica Darling novels so special for me is not simply the characters or their lives, but rather the lessons learned in each novel. And I think the only lesson I took away from Perfect Fifths is the utterly cheesy realization that things happen for a reason. While this is all well-and-good, I was disappointed by the lack of insight into Jessica or Marcus's adult lives. I really enjoyed seeing the people they had become, molded by their pasts and yet the same. And yet, these plot threads were hanging by a bare string for I never felt the depth of feeling Jessica harbored for the students she taught and one in particular, Sunny. I never felt the passion that Marcus had for helping construct homes in New Orleans. All I felt was the whirlwind adventure of this eighteen-hour romance and even that didn't end the way I expected it too.
I don't deny that Perfect Fifths is an excellent ending for these two, I have never read this series for these two, so perhaps Perfect Fifths will be the perfect ending for readers who are more invested in seeing Marcus and Jessica wind up together. Yet, despite the fact that Perfect Fifths is my least favorite of the series, I cannot thank Megan McCafferty enough for giving me these characters and their lives. The Jessica Darling Series has changed me - profoundly - and I cannot recommend it enough. If there is one series any teenage girl should read, it is this one.
The Jessica Darling series began with two stellar books. Then came the letdown of books three and four. With this final installment, I wanted a return to the simple hilarity of Sloppy Firsts. I wanted our MC to be redeemed. To show us how much she's grown, to address issues never really addressed before, and give me the happy ending I invested fifty dollars in reading.
Unfortunately, McCafferty decided against giving me the satisfaction. Abandoning the diary-form narrative of the first four books, we're suddenly thrust into a very, very awkward third person past tense. When I realized we were going to (finally!) get inside Marcus' head, I was excited. By the end of that first page, I wanted to scream in frustration.
I'm reminded a little of Seinfeld - remember that show? Each episode stood alone. They were hilarious and funny, and CONSISTENT...until the finale, which was one of the worst things I've ever seen in my life. Instead of rewarding loyal viewers for their dedication, the producers ditched the aspects that made the show great, and tried something different. And Awful.
Perfect Fifths was much the same experience. The POV was choppy, the read rough, and after waiting (and waiting and waiting) for Marcus and Jessica to really connect and develop the adult relationship each deserved, this entire novel (90%) was nothing more than one long (completely insignificant, avoid-the-issues) conversation that took place in an airport restaurant while waiting for a flight.
Though they did "end up together," I had, at some point, stopped caring. That's a testament to how terrible this was. I spent a lot of money, and a whole lot of time, holding out for this. And in the end, in the manner this author chose to deliver it, I just didn't care.
honestly, i was braced for the worst. i know a lot of people took issue with the 50+ pages of nuthin' but dialogue followed by a series of suggestive haiku-ing...that actually didn't bother me. i've been calling for more communication between the star-crossed pair since book three. and the poem thing, well, i've done shit like that, so it didn't strike me as particularly odd or out of place. you know what was? barry frickin' manilow. i get that he, or more specifically his music, has served as the not-so (Get it???) poignant backdrop for much of the flutie-darling relationship...but the excess of manilow meant to be read as a "a sign" from above puts barry in a spot i'm not all too comfortable with.
here's what i hated:
1. the format change. i get it. you didn't actually have to hit us over head with the whole prosopopoeia thang. a. i know what it is and b. i saw what you were doin' with it. no need to nathaniel hawthorne it do death at the end with the whole "our story" crap. 2. holy uncomfortable shower scene, batman! i so did not need to get into marcus flutie's head (pun not intended but not denied either) for this gem of a scene. first we get marcus thinking that 93% of hotel mattresses have seen "happy endings" then we get an awkward masturbation scene when he thinks about his ex-cougar-professor-girlfriend "greta" and jessica simultaneously (um, ew), which makes me think...what's the percentage like for hotel shower stalls....and that pretty much guarantees that i'll never be able to stay comfortably in a hotel again. thanks, marcus. 3. mccafferty is at her worst when she needs to show jessica's emotional vulnerability. this time it's with the contrived and badly named "sunny dae" who changes jessica's life and makes her want to be a teacher or something but who is in a coma! sunny, who miraculously comes out of a coma just as marcus is about to take yet another cold shower, serves as a catalyst so that jessica can have sex with marcus because they both find out that, for once, they'll be in new york together at the same time. i shit you not, that's how it plays out. 4. what was up with idiotic lisping amber and her weird encounters with both jessica and marcus (though never together)? if this had been serious fiction, i would have thought her to be like the girl in the red coat from "schindler's list"...as it is not, i'll just allow myself to be momentarily confused by this one and move on. 5. they miss the wedding. that seems wrong to me. it also means no pepe. you all know how i feel about pepe. 6. i felt like i knew the characters better than i should have. hell, i remembered hope's college boyfriend's name was "wynn" when jessica spent two pages trying to remember it. why am i more emotionally involved than they are? that seems so wrong.
sigh, i agree with my astute friend who said the series should have ended after second helpings. i don't regret reading them, but the last three books do very little to augment the series. i will say this: after reading these books, i have a strong urge to start journaling again, self-indulgent and narcissistic though it may be. i also promise i won't send you them.
This book was really, really the Perfect Fifth. The relationship between Marcus and Jessica culminates in this fifth instalment and last of the series. I've read it in less than 24 hours. I just couldn't stop reading it once I started it. Looking back, I now understand the geniousness in these books. Everything is perfectly orchestrated and this last book couldn't be more perfect. Jessica is all grown up and her development as a character is wonderful. It goes to show that we can learn from our mistakes and be a better person because of it. Marcus also evolved as a person and I guess this book is wonderful because they actually talk / communicate with one another. They never gave talking a chance and although they were soul mates from the very beginning, they needed the space (their hiatus) and the words that are responsible for the existence of this book. The opportunity to get inside Marcus's head and see things from his perspective is unique and also one of the factors that make this book so special.
I only regret one thing. Okay, two things actually. The first is that this last book is very short in comparison to the previous ones. (I wanted mooooooore, so much moooore.) Secondly, I would like to read Marcus's diaries. That would be terrific. Amazing. Epic. Genius. Wonderful. Emotionally draining. That would be something great.
Now that I've finished this series I feel empty. To quote Barry Manilow,
And now you know I can't smile without you I can't smile without you If you only knew what I'm going through.
I just can't believe that this is over.
Jessica and Marcus make me believe that everything is possible when you love somebody and that if you truly belong to a person, there will be nothing standing in the way of that love/relationship. Cheesy I know, but true.
"Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it is not yet the end." (I don't know who said it, but it describes this series perfectly).
maybe i'm a bad jessica darling fan but this novel wasn't what i've come to expect from the series. something was missing - i don't know if it's the fact the time was so compartmentalized or that it was all based on this interaction with marcus - it just wasn't all there. i missed jessica's snarkiness and humor! there were glimpses of it but not to the extent of the past four books. still, i enjoyed revisiting with these characters and am holding out hope for a sixth in the series (although perfect fifths brought everything to a close nicely).
It was Jessica and Marcus, which made it fun. It was unnecessary, which made it a little obnoxious. It was partially in haiku, which made it pretentious. It was missing Percy and Bridget, which was a problem for me.
Any Jessica Darling is a good thing, but this series should have ended with Fourth Comings.
I read this when I was a ...sophomore?... in high school, and remember swooning over it. ... Erm, not so much anymore. I realize I actually can’t stand Jessica, which makes sense because I can’t stand most adolescents (even though Jessica is 26 here; however, she is not emotionally 26) She’s permanently infantile, I’m convinced. The writing showcases a Jane Austen style of hyper-focus, bordering on autism. Also, please just fucking write some sex scenes already!
Jessica Darling and her misanthropic teenage journals were a huge influence on me when I was growing up right on her literary heels - she encouraged me to write, and to make it real. She was a sarcastic, pessimistic brat who had a penchant for the 80s, and I related to her - from her virginity woes to her disgust towards that particular group of kids that every high school breeds. I thought the second book ended perfectly, and was eager to go on to the next, but was ultimately swayed by a friend who declared the rest of the series a bummer. It took me all these years to go back to Pineville, yes, Pineville, and revisit this cast of characters that I loved so much, and I’m honestly glad that I waited - I think you have to have lived a little bit to appreciate what Jessica and Marcus go through as a couple and individually in books 3-5.
Buried beneath the menial and the sometimes seemingly meaningless is a really amazing coming of age story that is wholly unique and wholly representative - Notso Darling and her adventures are a master class in the human experience. She messes up. She’s too proud, too emotional, lost, blinded, selfish, real - it takes her a really long time to learn some super pertinent lessons, and SPOILER - I like that she and Marcus had to find THEMSELVES before they were ready to come back together.
Is the series perfect? Nah. But it was real, and impactful, and one I’ll always remember, and that matters more.
I WISH OUR LOVE WAS RIGHT NOW AND FOREVER - may the two Fannilows always be naked together in paradise. Figuratively speaking, anyway.
NOTE - as previously discussed when reviewing these books, they are dated, each at nearly a decade+ old at this point, and there is some language that is really harmful. I had to deduct a star from my ratings for that alone. Be aware that if you start this series now, you are going to encounter misogyny, ableist slurs, slut shaming, fat shaming, etc. it’s a shame, because Jessica should have been smarter than to reduce herself to using terminology like that.
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 BN.com 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 was 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).:]
I'm having a really hard time deciding what I actually think about this book. I guess it would help me to know what Megan McCafferty actually thinks about this book. The series, though, as I realized when I finished the last book, is collectively the novel I have always wanted to read but never found anywhere else. I would have such a hard time defining this as "chick lit" because it's always been so smart, so much more intelligent than your average chick lit. But this last book, to me, could be read as a snarky satire of itself...blatant chick lit but acknowledging the fact enough to make it NOT chick lit...this is what troubles me.
Why did McCafferty decide to write this in the third person? I was put off by this decision. In books 1-4, Jessica told us her story, and the voice was so snarky, so real that I believed Jessica existed. Throughout these last two years of reading the books, Jessica has become a close friend. So to open the fifth book and be reading the words of some random narrator about Jessica just broke my heart. McCafferty tries to incorporate the snarky voice we all know and love, but unless it comes from Jessica's mouth, it's not the same. It's false, and suddenly I saw through the story. HOWEVER, I did wonder if McCafferty intended us to empathize more with Marcus in this book...
We have always heard of Marcus in the third person, but from Jessica's point of view, so there was never a time where we heard "Marcus thinks..." Writing the fifth book this way brings us closer to Marcus, but away from Jessica. I think that's what Megan was going for, but the consequence was that we end up feeling like Marcus because Jessica has shut us out of her life as well. I knew Marcus in this book. Jessica seemed as strange and distant to me as she was to Marcus when he was watching her sleep. So this was both good and bad.
The majority of the book was one continuous conversation. No dialogue tags. No description. This was where the old Jessica started to show through. Stylistically, I have never seen anything like this before, so I was intrigued. Megan did a fantastic job with this conversation. Most conversations we read are flashes in the midst of a scene or little blurbs between thought/interpretation by the narrator. Never two characters just talking for this length of time. I thought this was fantastic. However, when they leave Starbucks and Marcus has to wait for Jessica, Megan just inserts "[waiting. waiting. waiting.:]" It just seemed so...halfassed to me. Like "Blah blah blah...okay on with the story". I then started to look at the book as a book she was forced to write, not one she wanted to write. Then I began to see things differently.
So, on one hand, Perfect Fifths could be just that - all we needed to tie up the loose strands of Jessica and Marcus. The conversation, the chapter written in nothing but back and forth Haikus are classic Jessica and Marcus, and that's what makes this book unique. Do we appreciate that? Or do we look at how this book, which spans 18 hours, could have been written in just that amount of time. It's the shortest of all the books. Many parts seemed to be just filler to get on with the rest of the story. Jessica's realization of her true feelings for Marcus are solidified after a few little dreams and an over-the-top display of cheesiness in their Barry Manilow duet. So many obvious connections. Such a chick-lit ending for a series that seems to be so against chick-lit. I imagine Megan wanting to end the series ambiguously at book 4, but being forced into writing book 5 because of the stereotypical expectation of a happy ending for Jessica and Marcus. It seems like she was secretly making fun of this book as she wrote it and hurled it at her publishers, a way of saying "here, this is what YOU wanted (but not what I wanted)."
I think the book was good, but it could have been better.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I'd read the first four books about Jessica Darling and her life in high school/college, and while I enjoyed them, I wasn't really sure I wanted to read this last book. It's been quite a while since I read the fourth book, and if my memory serves correctly, I wasn't all that into it; it felt a bit tired, like we'd been there and done that. However, I thought I owed it to myself to at least attempt to finish the series, as so many authors these days seem to keep them going and going and going... sort of like the Energizer Bunny, and not always in a good way.
Imagine my very pleasant surprise at finding a much more mature Jessica literally running into the love of her life, Marcus Flutie - in the middle of an airport no less. Jessica has been working almost nonstop with her teen girls writing project, and while she still finds the work rewarding, she's grown very, very tired of life on the road. Adding to her stress is the medical crisis of one of her former proteges, one of the only ones she really got to know. Sick to death with worry, weary beyond her years, and trying to make her flight to officiate at her best friend's wedding, she slams right into Marcus, knocking them both for the proverbial loop.
Marcus has realized how much he is not over Jessica, something he knows the minute he hears her name on the intercom. After all, it doesn't necessarily have to be his Jessica; there's the porn star that shares her name, after all. He's done his best to get on with his life, but it hasn't been easy. And then Jessica runs smack into him, and all those old feelings come back to the surface - and fast.
This is a very different book than the others in the series, as all the action takes place in about 24 hours. And it was fun to read about the old "gang" from the series, too, almost like hitting a high school reunion (but in a good way, with me not having to worry about what they'll think of me, of what I look like now, etc). This entry is also much more mature than the others. Both Jessica and Marcus actually seem like adults now, and they both show their vulnerable side, a very adult thing to do. I liked the repartee between them, and I loved that we finally got to see into Marcus's mind this time; he's a lot more "normal" than he lets on, and it turns out he's a lot more sensitive, too.
Of course I was hoping for a happy ending, but what kind of reviewer would I be if I told you what happens? (the very worst kind, I think!) If you've been following the saga that is Jessica Darling's life, you'll be glad you picked this up. Even better is that this book can stand on its own; it's very universal in its themes of love and friendship and regret and hope. A most satisfying conclusion to this teen series.
I had a lot of problems with this final book in the Jessica Darling series. First, the format change. After structuring the narrative in the form of journal entries from Jessica's point of view for the first four books, suddenly we get an omniscient narrator who sees into the minds of both Jessica and Marcus. And, for me, Marcus's inner thoughts did not really match the character he was in the first 4 books. Second, the whole Sunny Dae character just wasn't doing it for me. While Marcus's resistance to sharing his baggage about an affair with a professor is understandable, Jessica's reluctance to talk about Sunny being in a coma is just ridiculous. Third, the coincidences, e.g. the overlapping characters that manage to pop up in separate encounters with Jessica and Marcus. It just got to be too much. And the whole Barry Manilow theme? Talk about running something into the ground.
For the middle part of the book where it is just solid dialogue between the two characters, it felt like the author was trying so hard to emulate the movie, "Before Sunset." She even goes so far as to name-check the movie in passing toward the beginning! I love that movie, but that narrative style is something that seems more suited to movies, where dialogue is augmented by facial expressions, tonal inflections, and scenery.
I do still have some affection for these characters, and I'm glad they ended up happy, even if it was contrived. I just hoped for something a bit more satisfying.
I was disappointed in the changed format, as I much preferred being privy to Jessica’s neurotic, snobbish, and judgmental inner voice. She is one witty wench and I was saddened to see her words rather than read her thoughts. Nonetheless, I’m glad that the series concluded in the manner that it did, that there is some semblance of direction for our choosy heroine and that she has mind-f*ck Flutie to keep her company along the way.
I'm not sure why it took me forever to read the last installment of this series when I was borderline obsessed with the rest of them. Jessica and Marcus bump (literally) into each other. It didn't feel like a full reunion without the rest of the people I'd read about. But I guess, they really couldn't be in this one. It was about Jessica and Marcus. I'm not sure how I felt about this one. I was entertained, I guess. But, it was very talky and for some reason made me think of The Gilmore Girls if the show was about exes as opposed to a mother and daughter. The ending was happy though. I wasn't sure it would end up that way. 3.5 stars
More than 5 stars!!!!!! I absolutely loved this series and getting to follow Jessica from 15 to 26, and this finale was absolute Perfection!! A wonderful way to finish up 2021 in books, and here is to more unexpectedly delightful reads in 2022 💟💟
What. The. Hell. No seriously. What the hell? This book was an absolute shit storm from start to finish. None of the characters that I have grown to know and love were present in this book. Instead you have these faux characters. I didn’t recognize Marcus at all. Same for Jessica Darling. They were acting extremely strange even for the circumstances. Jessica was a nervous wreck with some kind of mystery going on that wasn’t fully explained. Something to do with one of her mentees that reminded her of herself having an accident. But that didn’t explain everything, why was she pretending to have her menstrual cycle? Was it really so that she wouldn’t have sex with Marcus? Really?
The Jessica Darling series has swept teens across the country and has a devoted, almost cult, obsession within this community. In some ways I can understand this phenomenon. The first book was decent, nothing substantial just a small peak at what’s to come for these two star-crossed lovers. The second was devoured! Ate it once, ate it twice, and I just could not stop! The third and fourth part was rather dull, total build-up. Marcus almost completely left and we were just left with Jessica. I mean, I wouldn’t have minded it as much if the books were shorter but it far too long for just Jessica. I skimmed through both books and then twittled my thumbs for the final installment.
Perfect Fifths is a close tie for second favorite with Sloppy Firsts just inches away. Marcus makes a grand reappearance that leaves the women and men swooning. With their comedic bantering I can understand once again why these two characters sparkle. Separate they are bordering the tolerable line, but together we witness fireworks on some parts.
Both I feel like I have to point out that (SEX!) is everywhere in YA books now. Whatever happened to the chaste kisses? The hesitant hand holding? It seems (SEX!) is what every teen has on his or her mind. Perfect Fifths may have a perfect alibi because the main characters are in their mid-twenties but Marcus masturbates twice, Jessica dreams about having sex, and almost every awkward pause between the two is the result of sexual tensions (even their inner monologues are about “it’s a test…we are not going to have sex…). Pull the fire alarm people because things are about to get steamy! But of course, the exact details of the human mating ritual are written in a type of verse poetry. So sorry to the people who wanted hot, hard, throbbing (yes, I’m trying to use sexual innuendos in this sentence) scenes ‘cause you ain’t getting it! (Yes! for incorrect English and insert evil manically cackle here)!
Aside from Marcus and Jessica there are a lot of side-characters. Not all of them happens serve any real purpose separately but together they form the perfect scenario where the main characters collide. In real life this probably would have never happened. Ever. So that I may have just contradicted myself entirely but on paper it sounds fantastic!
The point of view as you may have guessed is third person. It gave insight to Marcus’s thoughts which I’m sure all the readers are excited for. There was some flip-flopping of the way the book was told. In some chapters it was complete dialogue where the reader had to figure who was saying what. On others it was written through paper haiku messages which might have not been my favorite. School has ruined my sense of appreciation to the fine art of poetry. There were some chapters that were just regular plain chapters and one where the entire scene was in verse lines.
The ending, oh the ending. I actually happened to enjoy the ending. There seems to be some animosity about Jessica stating that she takes it back. The question lies whether she means the proposal or something else entirely (I’m thinking about the sex deal where they agree that they won’t have sex in the hotel. Ha!). I read it more as the proposal which then leads to the sex which in turn results in: “Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, Everything that's wonderful is what I feel when we're together, Brighter than a lucky penny, When you're near the rain cloud disappears, dear, And I feel so fine just to know that you are mine.”
Overall: Elated, ecstatic, and in joy (tried and failed at a pun and alliteration. If you read it fast enough the “in joy” sounds like “enjoy” which might have made it worked but made the sentence a failure). This is what I felt when I finally finished the Jessica Darling series. It was a roller coaster from start to finish that left some wonderful stories.