Review: Charmed Thirds (Jessica Darling #3) by Megan McCafferty

Title:  Charmed Thirds
Author:  Megan McCafferty
Series:  Jessica Darling #3
Publisher:  Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
Publication Date:  April 11, 2006
Pages:  359
Format/Source: Paperback/Purchased

Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult, New Adult/Contemporary

Jessica Darling’s in college!

Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she’s more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, than ever (so what if he’s at a Buddhist college in California?); and she’s making new friends who just might qualify as stand-ins for her beloved best friend, Hope.

But Jessica soon realizes that her bliss might not last. She lands an internship at a snarky Brooklyn-based magazine, but will she fit in with the überhip staff (and will she even want to)? As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she end up falling for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA . . . or the hot (and married!) Spanish grad student she’s assisting on a summer project . . . or the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it through college now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean?

With hilarious insight, the hyperobservant Jessica Darling struggles through her college years—and the summers in between—while maintaining her usual mix of wit, cynicism, and candor. (Photo and synopsis from Goodreads)

*Warning:  This is the third book in a series.  While I really don’t like spoilers, you might find some slight spoilers for the first two books in this review.*

The Greatness…

I read Charmed Thirds as a part of my self-imposed YA Contemporary Reading Binge last month, and I’m only just now getting around to writing a review, simply because my other reviews were a bit more time-sensitive. But better late than never!

And I really did enjoy Charmed Thirds, although not nearly as much as I LOVED Second Helpings.  I like how Jessica is now in college, and we get to see how she copes with being away from family, away from Marcus, and away from her comfort zone.  It really made me miss college.  I’m the kind of person that LOVED college.  I miss it all the time.  And when I was in school, around the middle of July I’d start itching for homework.  Yeah, I’m a dork, but this isn’t news.

I also loved how Marcus made haikus out of his spam email.  Genius!  And of course, as always, I love Jessica’s sarcastic humor.  I also love how Jessica has matured in many ways in this book, compared to the previous two books. For instance, her perspective on certain people, mainly her mother and sister, grows and she begins to see them as the actual people they are, rather than just thorns in her side.  McCafferty also gets major bonus points for referencing my absolute favorite Pearl Jam song, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”.  

The Not-So-Fantastic…

Now, let me just start off by saying this:  I didn’t love this book as much as Second Helpings, obviously.  I fangirled all over that review.  So I did have some issues with Charmed Thirds.  But the issues I did have weren’t deal breakers for me.  I can see why the characters did what they did, even if I didn’t like it.  So I can see why the plot would move in a certain direction, why characters would make a certain decision, etc.  For instance, Jessica was pretty annoying in this book, and she really didn’t annoy me in the other two books at all.  But I recognized what she was doing that was annoying and I actually got pretty deep and analytical in my notes.  I won’t go into detail, because it’s pretty spoilery, but I’ll just say that even though Jessica annoyed me, I totally understood why she did the things she did.  Okay, enough with the vagueness…

Great Quotes…

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Charmed Thirds:

“It’s like examining the artifacts found at an archaeological dig, where I can study the CD player on which Jessica Darling once listened to Morrissey, or the desk at which she once completed her college applications.”

“Meanwhile, my insides threw furniture off balconies and crashed cars into trees and set buildings on fire.”

“What sucked me in was an essay about the tyranny of IM, how it’s not just the content of the message that’s being scrutinized, but the message behind the message, and how responding too quickly or too slowly or too long or too short can destroy an otherwise solid relationship.”

“That’s what all love comes down to, doesn’t it?  We help others only as much as they let us.”

“Love may have the longest arms, but it can still fall short of an embrace.”

“It’s so strange how you can spend so much time with the people responsible for your very existence, yet know so little about them.  Then again, how much do we ever know about anyone?  Why should our parents be any exception?”

That last one is an idea that’s repeated throughout these novels, about how you really can’t ever truly know someone completely.  I like how it continues to be a part of Jessica’s story, not only by Jessica not really knowing the other characters, like her family or Marcus, but also how she recognizes this fact each time herself.

My rating for Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty:

A solid 4 stars.  I didn’t love it as much as Second Helpings, but I did still really enjoy it.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. fakesteph

    September 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Second Helpings is easily my favorite of the five.

    Furious flutter
    Awakened hummingbird heart
    hello, hello love.

  2. Adriana

    September 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Oh no look away! I just wanted to comment on such a pretty cover and then the book but it's the third book and I haven't read the others so… You gave it a four so I will go look up the first book later (:

  3. Jessie Marie

    September 12, 2012 at 1:31 am

    I cannot get over how cute these covers are! : )

    I haven't read any in this series yet but I definitely think I'm going to have to do so in the near future – way behind on the times! Plus, an MC with my name? How unusual given the absolute rarity of the name Jessica (note extreme sarcasm). Beyond that, this one sounds awesome. I have a feeling a great sense of college nostalgia will hit me, too – I miss those years so often!

    Lovely review. *runs off to add the entirety of the series to my TBR*

  4. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    September 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I just picked up the first book in this series the other day for like $3 or something. I'm not sure when I'll read it, but I will someday.

    I am also happy to report that I finally started Cinder, and I'll hopefully be finishing it soon as it's a library book that is now overdue. So far it's ok. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.

  5. Bittner

    September 17, 2012 at 4:15 am

    I'm so glad that you are continuing with this series and that you are continuing to like the books as much as you are! I loved your review and all your quotes, that was a lot of quotes for you! You really must have liked it!

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