Rated Reads

Scarlett Fever

by Maureen Johnson

Rated: Mild

Review contributed by Melissa Fox

It’s the end of the summer, Hamlet (in the dining room) has closed, and Scarlett is nursing a broken heart. Sure, he was never her boyfriend. And, sure, he was a bit of a cad. But that doesn’t stop her obsessing over him (to the point of watching his commercial on the internet a couple… well, maybe 50… times a night).

And it seems the rest of her life is falling apart, too: she still works for the crazy Mrs. Amberson, whose latest client, Crystal, has a whack-job for a mom and a morose older brother with whom Scarlett has the misfortune of being in biology. Her older brother, Spencer (sigh; I know, he’s only 19, but still!) can’t seem to land an acting job, until he lands a part as the baddie in the TV show Crime and Punishment (a nice tribute to Law and Order). Suddenly, he’s the most hated man in New York. Her older sister Lola seems to be going off the deep end, wandering aimless through her life. And — possibly scariest of all — her younger sister, Marlene, is being… nice.

After the slowish beginning (wading through all of Scarlett’s moping about her life), the book picked up speed, and I fell into Maureen Johnson’s wonderful writing style: full of patter, swooning, humor and intelligent asides. About two-thirds of the way, I started wondering how on earth Johnson was going to wrap up the story; there seemed to be a lot more loose threads than a book could adequately tie together. And I was right: she doesn’t. I do have to admit I was a bit disappointed: instead of ending the book, Johnson seems to just… stop it. Which, while exciting and all (can’t wait for the next book), is also frustrating. I don’t mind series and sequels, but I do like to have each individual story tidily wrapped up.

But that’s a minor quibble. It’s the Martins (who are still quirkily wonderful), it’s a fabulous portrait of New York City, it’s happiness in a purple cover. You don’t hear me complaining (much).

Rated: Mild, for some themes that could be disconcerting, like lying.

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • Scarlett Fever
  • by Maureen Johnson
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: