Reviews: The Map of Time and Charmed Thirds

I have read two really good books over the past few days. Although they couldn’t be more different, I enjoyed both immensely, for entirely different reasons.

The Map of Time, by Felix J. Palma

The first is Felix J. Palma’s The Map of Time. I picked it out because it looked like a Victorian-era, steampunk science fiction book about time travel – so all around awesome. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but found it delightful. I love the author’s decision to have the narrator converse directly with the reader, in a cheeky “And now, dear reader, we will look over at this guy …” kind of way. It was essentially three stories, designed to wrap around each other. There were adventures, true love and great sacrifices made. It was pure escapism for me, and I loved every second.

 

Charmed Thirds, by Megan McAfferty

The other one I just finished is Megan McAfferty’s Charmed Thirds, the third book in the Jessica Darling series (after Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings). The second I started reading it, I hated it. As I had for the first two books, I just can’t stand the protagonist, Jessica Darling. She is self-absorbed, obnoxious and narcissistic. And, as I read further, she is exactly me when I was her age (18 to 20). She embodies every characteristic about my teenage/young adult self that I look back on and cringe.

So, I really admire McAfferty’s self-awareness. I’m assuming that if the story is not exactly autobiographical, it contains more than a few truths about herself growing up. I don’t know if I could write about myself in such unflattering terms. And she is a good writer. Despite rolling my eyes at basically everything Jessica does, I found myself getting more and more wrapped up in her decisions.

The most aggravating part of the storyline is her misfit boyfriend Marcus, off at a Buddhist college in California as she attend Columbia. He is equally as self-absorbed and narcissistic as Jessica, but in a pretentious, holier-than-thou way. When she finally tells him off at the end, I want to fist pump, because it was what was needed to be said. However, I was of course delighted when they did end up getting together in the end, because who doesn’t want love to win out, but it did leave me with another giant eye-roll towards Marcus. I’m sure I’ll read the next book in the series, but I need to take a break from it for now.

Word of the day:

Solipsism: the theory that only the self exists, or can beproved to exist; extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

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