Wednesday, May 9, 2012

audio reviews by Jaye: The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

Yay! another review by Jaye! This is a book I listened to first, then gave to Jaye because I enjoyed it so much. I agree with everything Jaye wrote, or I would've written one of my own, too.

pub date: April 1, 2005
publisher: Scholastic
pages: 340
appeals: A light, humorous romance; School serves as the main backdrop; Told entirely through correspondence; The girls are the main characters, but the guys are heavily involved, stealing the spotlight at times; Multiple, diverse characters that are pretty well-drawn, but not deeply so
content: Some language and innuendo, no sex or graphic situations

Jay's thoughts:
Wealthy Ashbury 10th graders Emily, Lydia and Cass were not excited to start the “pen friend” program with “low-life” Brookfield students. However, once Em began corresponding with Charlie, and Lydia with Seb, things started to look up. Cassie, on the other hand, has an unexpected and frightening experience with Matthew.

This book is composed entirely of written correspondence, whether it is letters back and forth, notes from parents, or entries in Lydia’s NotebookTM (she’s an aspiring author). It was confusing at first, trying to get a solid hand on who was writing who and each of their situations. It did settle down a little further into the book.

The beginning was chronological, but as I got further in, it took turns focusing on one “couple” before going back and showing what other characters had been doing at the same time. Maybe that helped in keeping the characters straight, and I did get to follow each drama to its conclusion. However, it was confusing in its own right, and I would have liked everything to follow along without the inadvertent time travel.

I listened to the audio, which had a cast rather than a single narrator, and that helped define characters as well. Everyone performed very well, and made the characters their own. It takes place in Australia, so the accents were enjoyable, too.

The characters had distinctive voices, and it was nice to learn about the girls’ friendship, and get to know the guys they were writing. They all had faults, but I liked them anyway, even if I did roll my eyes at Emily’s snobbishness, or Seb’s over-the-top flirting. Favorite character: Charlie, and even he wasn't without fault.

They were all surprisingly willing to break the law. The main difference was that the girls mostly managed to avoid getting caught, but the guys were pretty familiar with the form master’s office. I was laughing out loud at parts, wondering how their antics were going to play out. Sometimes I was outraged on someone’s behalf, and a few times I had to cheer them on, even when what they were doing was stupid. There were some definite surprises.

It was a solid, enjoyable read with romance, drama, and a hint of danger. Plus, a hilarious “courtroom” scene near the end.

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