From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maureen Johnson: Scarlett Fever

I'm a big fan of Maureen Johnson. Her Twitter is entertaining. She writes amazing books. She's one of my writing heroes. I thought Suite Scarlett was a fun book, so I was excited to read the sequel, Scarlett Fever!

Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same.

She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant.

Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.

In the midst of all this, her parents drop a bombshell that threatens to change her New York life forever...

Scarlett Fever picks up a few weeks after the first book ends, so it doesn't take long to get going. In fact, with Scarlett juggling school, helping her family, nursing a broken heart, and working for the very eccentric Mrs. Amberson, her frenzied life makes for a fast-paced book that I wanted to devour in one sitting. But I decided to pace myself and soak up the story, which Maureen Johnson filled with whimsical characters and lively adventures.

The Martin family, as always, was very lovable. Their struggles to take care of their family and maintain a cash-strapped hotel in a city filled with some of richest people in the world was realistic without being too preachy. I always root for the scrappy underdog, especially when they're as charismatic and well-deserving of good things as the Martins are. I'd love to be a guest at the Hopewell Hotel.

Some things were predictable, like the storyline revolving around Spencer's big acting break. But the way it was written was side-splitting funny.

And, while it was a bit under-whelming, I was glad to see Marlene's storyline extended. Her suspiciously nice behavior caught me--and Scarlett--off guard.

Lola's role in the book was heartbreaking, but quietly so. I think it's fascinating that in the midst of such a raucous world, there's a vulnerable, drama-free character who manages to stir up controversy and shock everyone.

One of the things Maureen Johnson rocks at doing is developing complex characters, and the introduction of Broadway star Chelsea, Scarlett's lab partner Max, school friends, and even a neurotic dog named Murray, was no exception. I enjoyed the interactions and the way Scarlett could land smack-dab in the middle of any plot and not feel out of place or forced there.

Even better, it was great to see a female protagonist deal with a breakup and her feelings for a boy without coming off as silly. Sure, she was a little obsessive (How many times can you watch a single YouTube video?), but she had a life and friends outside of Eric.

I think you'd have to read Suite Scarlett to understand what's going on in this book, but it's worth it. Both are great reads. In fact, Scarlett Fever far exceeded my expectations and was even more charming and hilarious than its predecessor. That's rare.

In short, I loved this book. The cliffhanger ending left me pouting and wanting more.

For more information on Maureen Johnson, visit:

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