Becoming Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty — Reread Review

In Jaclyn Moriarty‘s Ashbury/Brookfield series, it’s quite a leap from Feeling Sorry for Celia to Finding Cassie Crazy in terms of the complexity of the plot and the depth of the characters. The jump from Finding Cassie Crazy to Becoming Bindy Mackenzie is bigger still. In the US, it was published as ‘The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie’, which gives you some idea of the dramatically higher stakes compared to the earlier books.

Unfortunately, it only partly works, at least for me as an adult reader. As far as I remember, when I read it closer to Bindy’s age, I really loved it, but at 34 the entire ‘murder’ plot feels unrealistic and also… uneccessary. There is more than enough going on in Becoming Bindy Mackenzie; the book doesn’t need a criminal gang of adults (who are, incidentally, almost as inept as the cast of teachers and parents).

I don’t know how I’m going to tell Dad. He will be so disappointed in me. I know it.
But he could not be as disappointed in me as I am in myself.

Becoming Bindy MacKenzie, Jaclyn Moriarty

What Jaclyn Moriarty does exceptionally well is Bindy’s character arc. Like Emma Woodhouse, Bindy starts the novel extremely unlikeable — in a peculiarly relatable way — but develops from there. Now that I no longer find these books as hysterical as I once did, the set-up section did feel a little long, but the look into Bindy’s history, and the way it explains why she is the way she is (without her first person narration ever being aware that’s what she’s doing) is really effective.

Emily Thompson may be many things, but, above all, she is loyal, determined and brave.
Imagine if she were my friend.

Becoming Bindy Mackenzie, Jaclyn Moriarty

As in the other two Jaclyn Moriarty books I’ve reviewed, all the other teenage characters are also well drawn, despite Bindy’s initial insistence on hating them all. Everyone (bar some of the adults) is a fundamentally good person, and that’s really nice. Reading about their developing friendships is the reason I sped through Becoming Bindy Mackenzie extremely fast, without even looking at the page numbers or realising when I was starting a new chapter.

Overall, I’d position Becoming Bindy Mackenzie as my second-favourite of the Ashbury/Brookfield series. There’s a lot to like, but the thriller plot doesn’t fully work for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty — Reread Review

Previous in the series: Feeling Sorry for Celia.

I love Finding Cassie Crazy for a lot of the same reasons I love Saving Francesca — the friendship between the main female characters, and the love stories that unfold. Jaclyn Moriarty does a really great job of balancing these two elements so that neither one overshadows the other. There’s always something to keep me turning the pages, and while I don’t find the humour as side-splitting as I did the first few times, the letters/diaries are still charming and easy to read.

I once had an appointment with her to Gaze into the Girl’s Eyes, which she went and cancelled on me, and I’ve been waiting all term for a chance to Kiss the Girl.

Finding Cassie Crazy, Jaclyn Moriarty

Previously, I think I would have identified the romances as my favourite part, but this time around, it was Cassie. I identify with her so strongly, especially her urge to invite someone to keep hurting her over and over. When I was a teenager, I had an anonymous troll who’d belittle me and my life in cyberspace, but I never wanted to ban anonymous comments. It sounds ‘crazy’, but, though Cassie’s reasons are different than mine, I find them totally believable.

Sometimes, bits of craziness escape into the outside me. Like, I get addicted to writing a letter to a boy who hates my guts.

Finding Cassie Crazy, Jaclyn Moriarty

For me, this is definitely a step up from Feeling Sorry for Celia: there’s more going on, more interwoven stories, but the same warmth and heart to keep the reader engaged. I can’t remember enough about Becoming Bindy Mackenzie right now to state a preference between the second two books in the series. I suppose I’ll have to read it again to find out!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Next in the series: Becoming Bindy Mackenzie.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty — Reread Review

I like epistolary novels, though Feeling Sorry for Celia isn’t one of my favourites. It’s a fine book, but I think it’s outshined by the sequels, which I plan to review later. That said, I still find that the teen drama and romance pulls me through the pages and makes me want to keep reading until I get to the end!

The chicken pieces are in the fridge already, so they have had experience being there.

Feeling Sorry for Celia, Jaclyn Moriarty

The main characters are good: I like Elizabeth and Christina and their growing relationship. Seeing Elizabeth and her mum get closer is enjoyable, as well. I think I found Feeling Sorry for Celia hysterical when I first read it, because I’d never read anything else like it. These days, it just gives me a few gentle chuckles, but that might be because I’ve read all the jokes two or three times!

I found the lack of chapters kind of annoying, which is something I definitely wouldn’t have noticed when I read it as a teenager.

They don’t know why, but they think I’m weird anyway, so it’s good to occasionally do something inexplicable and sustain the image.

Feeling Sorry for Celia, Jaclyn Moriarty

Overall, Feeling Sorry for Celia is fine. It gives you the set-up for Jaclyn Moriarty’s other books, but I don’t think you’d really miss out by not reading it.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Next in the series: Finding Cassie Crazy.