Monday, September 2, 2013

Jessica Darling's It List (Early Book Review)

Monday, September 2, 2013 10:13 AM with 10 comments


Jessica Darling's It List

Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Number of Pages: 240

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Move over, Dork Diaries! Jessica Darling, star of Megan McCafferty's bestselling Jessica Darling series for adults, is back in a hilarious new series perfect for tween (10 to 14) girls.

I hadn't even gotten to homeroom yet and I'd already discovered five hard truths about junior high:

1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn't know it yet.
3. It wouldn't be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn't a thing I could do about it.

It's the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom?

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty's hilarious series opener will have you laughing, cringing, and cheering for Jessica Darling as she learns that being herself beats being popular, pretty & perfect any day.


I was both excited and a bit weary to start this prequel to my favorite series of all-time. If you follow me at all, you know that I absolutely adore Jessica Darling and the original five books in her series (yes all five, even though the first two are definitely the best). I debated whether or not I should even read this one, afraid that it might ruin my love for JD. The Hit List is a fun MG novel starring my favorite character and while I didn't need to worry about it harming my love for the series, I still definitely prefer high school Jess to junior high Jess. 

The It List starts at the beginning of her 7th grade year. Jessica is still best friends with Bridget who is just starting to realize how beautiful she is. Jess is worried about starting jr. high and is thrilled when her big sister, Bethany, gives her a list of items to ensure her place with the popular crowd: the It List. Not knowing why exactly, Jessica decides to keep the list a secret from Bridget which becomes the first chink in their friendship as the two usually share everything. Jess is shocked when Bridget shows up at her house on the first day of school with her braces off, with a new haircut, and clad in an adorable outfit. Jessica is decked out in a Who concert tee after misunderstanding rule number 1: dress differently everyday as wearing something different from everyone else...not as not repeating outfits like Bethany intended. So Jessica gets on the bus to school--where Bridget immediately starts receiving attention from the upperclassman. 

From the very first day Jessica gets swept up in a new group of girls who are friends from their elementary school. Jessica goes along with this, since they seem to be the popular crowd and she knows it is what Bethany would do. The whole group, sans Hope, decides to try out for the cheerleading squad. After a while, Jessica begins to question her motives. She's not sure if she really likes her new friends and deep down she knows she's not cheerleading material. She's also distraught as the rift between her and her best friend continues to get wider and wider. 

What I absolutely loved was the humor that is infused throughout the novel. I'm not going to go into specifics because the scenes are best discovered, but Jessica is still hilarious to read about. 

While I really did enjoy this book, Jessica is Jessica, and I'll always be up to spending time with my favorite character, it isn't a perfect book in the way Sloppy Firsts was. My biggest complaint is that it felt like the first book in the series, in a way that Sloppy Firsts never did. It felt like its purpose was to set up the story. We are introduced to all the old favs: Manda and Sarah, Hope, Scotty, and, yes, even Marcus to a smaller degree. I was wondering how Ms. McCafferty was going to handle Marcus, if she did at all, in this series as the two really don't know each other in Sloppy Firsts. 

Despite the set-up, The It List is a fun book and is the perfect way to introduce Jessica to the MG crowd. I would have eaten this book up if I was still the age for whom this book was intended. I LOVED series when I was in that late elementary/early jr high age group (Babysitters Club, Sweet Vally High, the Fabulous Five) and a series full of Jessica Darling would have been awesome. I'll definitely continue reading this series, but I have to admit I'd be more interesting in knowing where Jessica is now than I am in her past.


  1. Fantastic review! I love the JD series, although I haven't read the last book in the series, b/c I am afraid to see how it will all end! I think MG me would have loved this book too since I loved Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High as well. Can't wait to check this one out!

    1. Thanks, Christina! You should definitely read the last book in the series. I have to admit it's my least favorite book in the series, but I think that is because it wasn't written in the journal style we are all used to, but I loved the way it ended and I'm sure you would, too. I'd give this one a shot as well if you are a fan of the series. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I haven't read any of the books yet. I got the first two from the library but then I ran out of time. So, I think I should pick them up again at some point!

    1. You should definitely re-check them out. The first two books especially are so freaking good. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I was curious to see how you would like this. It sounds like something my 1 year old sister would eat. I'll have to suggest this to her tomorrow. She won't know the difference between a set up first book or not but I know that would irk me. While I understand it's essential to set up the story, general plot, and introduce to you all these characters, it's a bummer when that's all the novel is really about. Are you planning on reading the next one?

    1. I know you couldn't mean your one-year old sister. Lol. If she's a tween or younger teen, I'm sure she will love this. It's pretty funny. I will read the next one. Young Jessica Darling is better than no Jessica Darling. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great review, Natalie. I loved the first book to this series but couldn't finish the second one. It's interesting to read about the young Jessica Darling - kinda like seeing her grow right in front of your eyes.

    1. Why didn't you finish the second? I think that one was my favorite in the series. It is definitely like watching her grow. The author did a good job. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I have to admit that I have not read any of the books in the series, but the IT LIST sounds so fun! Thanks for the great review Natalie, going to have to checkout this new series featuring tween Jessica!

    1. This book is fun, but the original series is amazing. You should definitely read Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings at least. Thanks for stopping by!


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