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Thursday, July 25, 2013

DOUBLE-REVIEW: "When Lightning Strikes" and "Code Name: Cassandra" by Meg Cabot


 


Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors so I was ecstatic to get invited to participate in the Meg-a-Readers Blog Hop, co-hosted by Mandy at The Romance Bookie and Diana at Little Miss Drama Queen. Check out their blogs for more great Cabot fun!


When Lightning Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You, #1)When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot
For Ages 12+
Young Adult -- Paranormal
Simon Pulse -- 2001
Paperback, 266 pages
Received as a gift

SUMMARY Jess Mastriani has never been what you'd call a typical Midwestern teenager—her extracurricular activities, instead of cheerleading or 4-H, include fist-fights with the football team and month-long stints in detention. A part of Jess would like to be the prom queen her mother has always envisioned her being, but another part is secretly counting the days until she's saved up enough money to buy her own Harley. Then something happens that guarantees Jess will be one of the in-crowd...at least until her newfound talent ends up getting her dead.

FIRST LINE
They want me to write it down.

MY THOUGHTS
One thing that always impresses me about Meg Cabot is the variety of characters and stories that she can tell.  I have read almost everything she has written and I am always entertained, no matter what genre.  That is why I was excited to try When Lightning Strikes when I received it and the sequel (Code: Name Cassandra) for a present last year.  These two are the first in one of Cabot's older series (1-800-Where-R-U) and I was interested to see how her writing has evolved since then.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the protagonist, Jess, whose narrative voice is obvious from the beginning.  She is a typical Cabot heroine with a fairly normal life which she looks at with a sly sense of humor.  I thought Jess was pretty amusing especially with her tendency towards violence and obsession with motorcycles.  When she is struck by lightning and gains psychic powers, her reaction is both atypical and entertaining.  I liked how devoted she was to those she cared about including her family, best friend, and the children that she began to help find.

Like most Cabot books, Jess is surrounded by a menagerie of quirky characters.  I loved her restaurant-owning family especially her brother, Douglas, whose mental state brings some darkness to an overall light story line.  I also thought Ruth, Jess's best friend, was amusing though I did get a bit annoyed (as Jess did) about her obsession with her weight and looks.  The potential love interest, Rob, was intriguing, but I wanted to know more about him besides the fact that he drives a motorcycle and lives on the more rural side of town.

The plot of When Lightning Strikes was fairly predictable with the way the government tried to get involved to Jess's unwillingness to help save kids who didn't want to be saved, but it was entertaining.  I loved Jess's resourcefulness when it came to doing what she thought was right and appreciated that she knew when to ask for help.  The ending did come as a bit of a shock, but I can understand where Meg Cabot is going with it.

Overall, I thought this was a decent beginning to an interesting character's journey.  I'm glad that Meg Cabot didn't go too far into the darker elements of Jess's new life though I can see it going there in the future.  I definitely look forward to getting to know more about the side characters especially Rob, Douglas, and Ruth.


3.5 Stars

FAVORITE QUOTE
"You'll blow up a helicopter, but you won't go out with me? What is wrong with you?"


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Code Name Cassandra (1-800-Where-R-You, #2)
Code Name: Cassandra by Meg Cabot
For Ages 12+
Young Adult -- Paranormal
Simon Pulse -- 2001
Paperback, 272 pages
Received as a gift

SUMMARY 
Jess Mastriani was dubbed "Lightning Girl" by the press when she developed a psychic ability to find missing children after she was struck by lightning during a huge storm. Now Jess has lost her miraculous powers...or at least she would like the media and the government to think so. All she wants is to be left alone.

But it doesn't look like Jess is going to get her wish -- especially not while working at a summer camp for musically gifted kids. When the father of a missing girl shows up to beg Jess to find his daughter, Jess can't say no. Now the Feds are on her tail again, as is one ornery stepdad, who'd like to see Lightning Girl...well, dead.

FIRST LINE
I don't know why I'm doing this.

MY THOUGHTS
Code Name: Cassandra is the second book in the 1-800-Where-R-U, but I don't think readers need to read to first book to enjoy this one.  Meg Cabot does a great job of providing background information without making it feel like she is rehashing the entire plot though I do recommend When Lightning Strikes if one wants to really appreciate the development of Jess Mastriani as a character.

Jess's life has finally gotten back to normal after being struck lightning, gaining psychic abilities that allow her to find missing children in her sleep, and then claiming to lose those powers.  Her best friend, Ruth, convinces her to get a job working at a camp for musically talented children which helps show another side to Jess.  I loved watching her interact with the boys that she is assigned to especially sweet Lionel and brash Shane.  She is coming to understand the true purpose of her gift though it also comes with very real dangers.

As I mentioned in the review of the first book, one of my favorite things about Meg Cabot's books is her ability to write quirky and intriguing side characters that help balance out her protagonists.  Rob Wilkins is as sexy as he was in When Lightning Strikes though I wish he would let Jess know what he really feels for her soon.  Ruth got a bit on my nerves in this book with her continued obsession with her weight and categorization of the male camp counselors.  I feel like Jess needed her at certain points in this book and she wasn't always there.  The kids were a nice balance of cute and annoying that made them feel like realistic.

I really liked the camp story line and thought it provided a different tone than the first book.  That is why I wasn't real happy when Keely's father showed up and tried to get Jess to help him find her.  I understand that Cabot needed to remind readers about the overall series plot, but it just seemed a little out of nowhere.  I did think that Jess's reaction to the government was interesting especially with her interactions with them in the first book and I am excited to see where the series goes with that relationship.

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I was hoping.  I think the characters are interesting and the psychic powers thing is fun.  There is just something missing from these books that I usually find in a Meg Cabot story that I can put my finger on right now.  That being said, I will probably check out the rest of series if only to see if Rob ever gets his head on straight about being in love with Jess.


3.5 Stars

FAVORITE QUOTE
"Every seven miles, in America, there is at least one McDonald's. Not a hospital, mind you, or a police station, but a McDonald's, every seven miles. I mean, that's sort of scary, if you think about it."


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. When Lightning Strikes
2. Code Name: Cassandra
3. Safe House
4. Sanctuary
5. Missing You

5 comments:

  1. I've been wanting to read these books for awhile now. I also LOVE Meg Cabot. I love the humor in her books, and how usually her main characters are just so easy to relate to.

    I'm glad that you liked these two, even if you weren't in love with them.

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    1. The second one is funnier than the first, but I would recommend them especially if you are already a Meg Cabot fangirl. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Bummer you didn't enjoy these too much. My favorite one was the last one in this series! Just love Rob! lol :)

    Thanks so much for participating in Meg-A Readers 2013!! :)

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    Replies
    1. I saw you mention the last book in your post about your favorites so I'm going to stick with it. I want to see Rob realize his feelings for Jess! Thanks for hosting such a great blog hop!

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  3. This series has always been my favorite of Meg's. Thanks for joining us in the Meg-a-Readers hop!

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