Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

A pen pal program is created between rival schools Ashbury and Brookfield in the hopes that students will come together in the “spirit of harmony and ‘The Joy of the Envelope.’” The students can’t stand this idea at all, on account of Brookfield’s disreputable standing and Ashbury’s high-end reputation—they’re like apples and oranges. But it’s an assignment for a grade, so they pretty much have to do it. And so, the correspondence commences.

Emily, Lydia and Cassie, batting for Ashbury, start out pretty snarky. The guys respond—Emily gets Charlie, an unassuming, kind-at-heart delinquent; Lydia, a trickster (which suits her game-master tendencies quite well), Sebastian; and Cassie is met with single-sentence threats if she continues writing to her pen pal, Matthew. They continue on until friendships are forged between the Emily/Charlie Lydia/Sebastian entities and until Cassie breaks the ice with her enigmatic friend.

A third of the book goes by and the “couples” (so to speak) decide to meet. Except there’s a teeny, tiny problem: there’s no Matthew at Brookfield. And when whoever’s been posing as Matthew does meet Cassie and tears her apart (metaphorically speaking) cruelly, all niceties go out the window. The Ashbury girls are determined to find out who it is, and, employing the help of their Brookfield pen pals, they descend in a really fun mix of “secret missions, false alarms, lock picking, mistaken identifies, and an all-out war between the schools—not to mention some really excellent kissing.”

This is another one of my insomnia reads. I was going to watch like two discs of our Friends collection throughout the night, but I began this book instead (urged by my friend Reader Rabbit), and I ended up spending the entire night reading it. For one, it’s really funny. For another, it was really quick paced (on account of its epistolary format—it’s all told in letters, emails, transcripts, and diary entries). But more than anything I love the…



Pranks. I love books that feature pranks! Sebastian and Lydia are both, as previously mentioned, very into pulling pranks and all that, so they get into this game and constantly try to outdo each other. It’s very entertaining how, like, one robs the car of the other’s English teacher to steal exam papers.

Finally: I thought the content carried itself out very well until the very end, where there’s this showdown between school authorities. There’s enough suspense to keep turning pages as they start writing to one another, when they finally begin to meet, when it’s discovered that Matthew isn’t really a Matthew after all, when they try to get back at the imposter, and when the school wars begin. This is one of the best FUN! novels I’ve read recently. B

*smiles*

Point/Scholastic
| 340 pages | February 1st, 2004 (US Hardcover) | GoodReads | Amazon
Originally published in Australia by Macmillan under the title Finding Cassie Crazy

14 comments:

Adele said...

Okay this sounds fabulous. I love when books are set out using correspondance methods. I already want to know who Matthew is so consider my interest peaked!

Brooke Taylor said...

It's been awhile since I read this one--but I really enjoyed it, and I think it is really hard to pull off so many characters so well.

Also--loved Cracked Up To Be--except for the one sad part. Thought Parker was exceptional, a darker/more depressed Veronica Mars--or like you said an Alaska Young. Although Alaska was nicer. LOL.

Chicklish said...

I love this book. Though where I come from it's called Finding Cassie Crazy.

Really enjoyed reading your review.

Reader Rabbit said...

I'm glad you liked it :)

RR2 said...

LOVE this book! It's my favourite of all her books.

Alea said...

I tried to mooch this book a few weeks ago, I hope it comes, it does sound like a lot of fun!

Steph Su said...

One of my favorites a few years ago. I'm glad you liked it as well!

ali said...

Ohhh, I'm so glad you liked it! YAY! YAY! YAY! Another Aussie author you like! He he! :D Actually ... I think she's moved to Canada now, but whatever! Definitely check out 'Feeling Sorry for Celia', if you can (or I could just zip it your way), as I want to see which one you like better. The third book in the series ... It's alright (It's about Bindy, who you met in this book), but I just didn't think it was as good as these two. Anywho, YAY! YAY! YAY! I'm so glad you liked it! :D

ali said...

Talking about Jaclyn Moriarty actually ... She has a blog here (http://jaclynmoriarty.blogspot.com), which she, unfortunately, doesn't update very often. If you want to read her blog, I recommend reading it from the very post she ever made. It's incredibly sad, but then, it becomes all very great (if you read it from beginning to the latest post available), and you feel so happy for her! :D I'm still hoping she's working on her own website, which would be exciting to see! :)

Staci said...

After that great review I have absolutely no reason to not read this book!!! I've been eyeing it for a year and now I am off to request it from the library!

Bookworm said...

Looks cute--great review, Steph! I'll definitely have to check it out. (:

Amee said...

Already ordered from Swap. ;p

MelodyJM/Is Me! Is PENGUIN! said...

Uh I remeber this book! It was hilarous!
I like the part where one of them (can't remeber wich) is writing in the book that is supposed to help her learn to write! and she writes this hilarious little story about people turning into road signs! I laughed myself silly and read from the book aloud to dad while we were on the way to the dump! SO MUCH FUN! (that was a really good memory),
MelodyJM/Is Me! Is PENGUIN!

TruBlu93 said...

I think I like this one already.

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