This review was originally seen on acreads.blogspot.com.
I feel as though I need to begin this review by saying that I haven't touched a Jessica Darling novel in oh, four or more years. I was so unhappy with Fourth Comings (for reasons including but not limited to: the pacing, Jessica's character, and the freaking ending!) that I couldn't bring myself to read Perfect Fifths until just recently. I will refer back to the other books in the series but the details are extremely fuzzy... Please excuse any errors that I make - they were unintentional and I meant no harm by messing up the details.
Perfect Fifths is the 5th and final installment in the Jessica Darling Series - which follows a teenage girl named Jessica Darling through her high school years, recording all of her growth and achievements as well as her missteps and her lowest points. At the core of Jesscia's story and well, her life, is none other than Marcus Flutie, Jess's long time boyfriend with whom she goes through a series of firsts, break ups and life changing events. Jess and Marcus's relationship has always been shaky at best culminating with a refused marriage proposal in Perfect Fourths that seems to be the end of Marcus and Jess as we knew them. Now, three years later, Jessica is sprinting through an airport, desperate to catch a flight (that she misses) and (literally) runs into Marcus after zero contact. And so we have Perfect Fifths...
I gave this book 4/5 stars. If I had read it soon after finished Fourth Comings, I think that I would have hated it. At that point, I was so disgusted and sick of hearing about Jessica and Marcus that never hearing about them again would have been okay with me. Advice! If you find yourself getting annoyed with them, SET THE BOOK DOWN! Walk away! Perfect Fifths read so much better after spending time away... But thankfully I gave Perfect Fifths a shot. I really enjoyed it and thought that it was a great wrap up to the bumpy road that we were dragged over through the first four books.
The main characters of this book are Jessica and Marcus... and they are pretty much the same Jessica and Marcus that we have come to know and love, but with more maturity and clarity regarding their relationship. Most importantly, they were given three years to live independently of one another and develop their identities individually. Jess retained her snarky attitude and knee jerk cynicism but realized how harsh she has been towards others in her life and the pain that she has potentially caused. Marcus learned that by burying himself under failed self-medications (meditating for hours, self induced silence for a year, etc.), he was simply refusing to face his problems head on and deal with them. The world building of this book was nearly non-existent but that is okay. Jessica Darling is supposed to exist in our world and the interactions between the two were the focal point of this novel so the setting did not need to be complex.
I think the pacing/format of Perfect Fifths is what kept it from becoming a favorite. Perfect Fifths is broken up into four parts - the first and last parts are written in standard novel prose. The second part is written entirely in straight dialogue - there are no indicators of who is speaking outside of what is being said and there is no description. The third part is written in haikus passed back and forth between Marcus and Jessica. I really enjoyed how McCafferty broke up the traditional novel format by using Marcus and Jesscia's conversation... but the haikus felt... extremely weird and out of place.
But what I loved most about this book is how realistically it read. Jessica and Marcus have had an extremely messy and emotional relationship that spanned over several years and while they were separated for three, each harbored lingering feelings and unresolved issues with the other. Their time spent together in this novel was awkward and uncomfortable, and I could feel the tension. More importantly, at the risk of getting way too personal, I could see a lot of myself and my own relationship in Marcus and Jessica's - their story resonated with me (not that my boyfriend and I have been through anywhere near the craziness of those two... =P) and while I'm still undecided about whether or not that's a good thing... sometimes it is comforting to be able to find yourself in a book.
That being said, I would recommend this series to anyone who likes contemporary novels but I need to attach a warning here. This series has scenes involving drugs, alcohol and sexual encounters... as well offensive language. While I believe that this technically a "young adult" novel/series, it is definitely geared toward the upper teens to college aged audience (I'm pretty sure there's a new word for this book demographic now). If you are a younger reader, please be aware of this!