Jessica, You Do Know Google Locate Sort of Made You Obsolete: 1800 Where R You Series by Meg Cabot

When I was actually the targeted reading age of YA my go to author was Meg Cabot.  And I especially loved her paranormal books.  I’ve already fangirled on and on about how I loved The Mediator series, but I haven’t talked much about how much I liked her 1800 Where R U books.  So I decided it was time for a binge read when it came to this series.

Honestly, I was surprised how fast the binge read actually was.  These books are short and, well, a bit outdated.  I still loved them though.  Let’s dig deeper shall we.

The Deal:

The series revolves around Jess Mastriani who for the bulk of the series-till the fifth book is sixteen.  Then nineteen.  Even though the last book borderlines as New Adult there’s no happy times in here (well, on screen).  Which is a shame, because I would’ve like to read about Rob Wilkins butt in the buff.

Initially, Meg planned to do eight books but because of low sales the series was cut off midway into it’s run.  The fifth book came to being because Harper Collins was using their powers for good (know though they don’t use their powers for anything, cough #HaleNo, cough).   Honestly, I don’t think the fifth book really flows well with the other four.  But I have to appreciate it for being there even though it reads like good fanfiction.

Like with all my binge reviews, I’m going to talk about each book a little bit and wrap up this review with a series review (basically a paragraph with me telling you about my feels for the series).

Jess Mastriani has never been what you’d call a typical Midwestern teenager—her extracurricular activities, instead of cheerleading or 4-H, include fist-fights with the football team and month-long stints in detention. A part of Jess would like to be the prom queen her mother has always envisioned her being, but another part is secretly counting the days until she’s saved up enough money to buy her own Harley.

Then something happens that guarantees Jess will be one of the in-crowd…at least until her newfound talent ends up getting her dead.

Source: GoodReads

Oh, Jess.  How I forgot you were the Cabot character with violent tendencies.

Well, Suze throws a mean punch too but it’s sort of a necessity.  You on the other hand…your rage is sort of funny but at the same time scary.

Not in a bad way though.

Jess is perfectly engaging.  Though I did get annoyed with her world at times.  There are some jokes and remarks made in this book that are eyebrow raising at best.  I seriously, wanted to throw a punch at Rob Wilkins for calling Ruth fat.  No.  No.  No.  Rob Wilkins, you just don’t do that.

It doesn’t make you desirable.

At least Jess tells him this too.  Though it’s obvious she wants to make out with him.

Another thing that really sticks out after all this time is how much the world has and hasn’t changed since this series was originally published (the early 200’s, pre 911 days).  Jess’s super power is a little obsolete now with social media and Google Locate doing a lot of the work she did for her.  But she still would be utilized (I guess).

The other thing that bothered me about this series was you had to suspend your belief (a lot).  I’m sorry but the way the whole Crane Military Base thing was handled was ridiculous.  I can’t go into to many details because of spoilers, but just know I was completely shaking my head thinking Cabot had never seen an episode of UFO Hunters because if she did she know if you were remotely close to a top secret military base you’d be surrounded and your mission to find the aliens would be aborted.

Whatever.

It’s still a fun book.  But yeah, I see it’s warts now and the years have not exactly been good to it.  Or terrible for that matter. I think  The Princess Diaries probably got the worst of it with the pop culture references.

Overall Rating: B+ fun and short.  Not to be taken seriously though.  Especially with all the plot holes.

JESS MASTRIANI
was dubbed “Lightning Girl” by the press when she developed a psychic ability to find missing children after she was struck by lightning during a huge storm. Now Jess has lost her miraculous powers…or at least she would like the media and the government to think so. All she wants is to be left alone.

But it doesn’t look like Jess is going to get her wish — especially not while working at a summer camp for musically gifted kids. When the father of a missing girl shows up to beg Jess to find his daughter, Jess can’t say no. Now the Feds are on her tail again, as is one ornery stepdad, who’d like to see Lightning Girl…well, dead.

Source: GoodReads

I could bitch and get really nit picky about some of the music things in this book.  And to be honest, I should.  I really should.  I don’t see how anyone can possibly get into a Musical Festival (Band Camp) or into the top chairs without being able to you know…read music.  And it sort of contradicts the earlier book when Jess says that she bought some duets for her and Ruth to play (obviously, she  could read music).

Sigh, that aside.  Though again fun book.

This seems to be a disturbing pattern, huh?  Book with lots and lots of faults but still fun.

I think out of all the series though, this installment has one of the most clean cut plots.  It’s  a little predictable, but it comes together nicely.  And I really loved the Jess and Rob moments in this one too.  He’s in the book just enough, but not enough to completely overwhelm the plot.

He’s probably, honestly, one of the least present Cabot male characters and I think that has an interesting effect on the books overall.  I do wonder if the book had ran its intended run (eight books) if Rob would’ve been in the later installments more and how that would’ve effected it.  For this book, I like his lack of presence.  Oddly, it adds to the allure.

There’s almost a third party love interests thrown in here, but the way Cabot handles the whole thing is good in the realistic type of way so bravo there.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a B+ like with When Lightening Strikes, there’s some fault but it’s lots of fun.

JESS MASTRIANI was on vacation when Amber went missing. Most people blame Jess for Amber’s brutal slaying, but how could Jess — even with her psychic ability to find anyone, anywhere — have stopped the cheerleader from turning up dead, without having known she was even missing?

When yet another cheerleader disappears, Jess has a chance to redeem herself. If she can just find the girl before it’s too late, maybe Jess will finally have a chance to be part of the in crowd. Except that it’s starting to look like being “in” might just get you — not to mention your loved ones — killed. So much for popularity.

Source: GoodReads

Meh.

Yeah, if you haven’t guest this is probably my least favorite out of the original one.

It just felt a little out of place to me in terms of the rest of the series.  Honestly, in a lot of ways-serial killers and psychic powers aside-it felt like some of Cabot’s lackluster standalones set n the midwest.  I really didn’t like how popularity played a big part of this storyline.

Yeah, popularity as a plot device rarely ever works for me in a YA book anymore.

Grant it, Jess really doesn’t have any desire to be popular.

But there are themes of it there that just annoy me.

The whole mystery plot is ridiculously easy to figure out.  I think I knew as soon as the villain was introduced and made his whole speech (Captain Obvious much).

The good news though is we finally see a couple of developments with the Jess and Rob relationship, concerning Jess and Rob’s family.  One thing I will always give Cabot a big plus sign for is that in most of her books the main character’s family plays a pretty big role.

This series is no exception.

I love how dimensional Jess’s family is and how none of the members are merely cut out characters.  They all have their problems.  And I really love her depiction of Douglass, Jess’s oldest brother.  It’s not often we see a character in YA living with mental illness so I give her a plus for having him in here.

Overall: Not the most exciting book in the series but still a solid B.

JESS MASTRIANI

Knew she wasn’t going to be able to hide her psychic powers from the U.S. government forever. But she never thought that she and Dr. Krantz, the special agent brought in to convince Jess to join his elite team of “specially gifted” crime solvers, would have something in common.

When a local boy’s disappearance is attributed to a backwoods militia group, it turns out that Jess and Dr. Krantz have the same goal. Suddenly Jess finds herself collaborating with one enemy in order to stop a far worse one. In an atmosphere of hate and fear, Jess and Dr. Krantz must work together to unite a community and save a life…without loosing their own.

Source: GoodReads
And this is where the shit hits the fan.
 
Man, this book is so outrageously unrealistic it’s sort of laughable.  But at the same reason, that’s why I love this particular installment.  Honestly, I could see it as a midseason finale if this was ever to get a proper TV show (not one that simply uses its premises then has the main character regulated to background character and has a guy played by Mateo Santos be Not Rob to Vivica Fox who’s just randomly in the TV show).
And  as outrageous as this one is, there are a few good messages there that even transcend ten years later.  And no, I don’t think it gets too preachy.
Once again, subtle develops are done with the development between the relationship of Jess and Rob that appreciate.  And I like the fact that other relationships-side romances-are developed as well.
However, I just couldn’t help but think during this book’s climax.
Ridiculous.
Just ridiculous.
And again, I kept seeing plot holes.  Like Chick being completely oblivious to just who Jessica is despite encountering her in the first book.
Whatever though it was a fun ride.
Overall Rating: B+

Ever since a walk home on a particularly stormy day, Jessica Mastriani has had an ability like no other. She became known worldwide as Lightning Girl a psychic who could find the location of anyone, dead or alive. Jess finally had no choice but to embrace her newfound talent, and ended up lending her skills to the U.S. government.But her work for them has taken a terrible toll, and Jess resurfaces months later a shadow of her former self, her powers gone, Lightning Girl no more. Her only hope is starting over in a new place, a big city where nobody knows her. It’s only when Rob Wilkins unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep that she’s forced to face her past. Rob, all the way from back home, needs her help. But how can Jess, her powers gone, find anyone, let alone the sister of a man she once loved . . . when she can’t even find herself?

Missing You, the fifth and final book in the 1-800-Where-R-You series

Source: GoodReads
This isn’t a bad book but there is a big disconnect between it and the other four books.
To be fair there were a lot of outside factors contributing to the disconnect.  The fact that this book was published years after book four.  The fact that it was originally intended on being a long series and  Cabot had to stuff the end into one book.
So, those factors contributed it was a nice send off.
Not the best send off though.
I really wish the 1800 series would’ve been given two books not one by Harper to finish things off.  But beggars can’t be choosers.
I think by itself Missing You isn’t that bad.  It has a nice well rounded plot (perfectly predictable, but good enough).  And the characters aren’t awful.
But they aren’t themselves either.
It almost seems like during the years in between the publication of Sanctuary  and Missing You, Meg sort of lost sense of these characters.  And I know, it was probably because of the time jump, but I just didn’t like it.
I didn’t like Jess’s mad punching skills being reduced to nothing (seriously, she can’t defend herself at the end, Cabot, for reals?).  And Rob was acting just weird.
Sorry, the more I reflect on it that scrapbook thing was sort of creepy.
It’s not the worst finale in the world, but after binging on the four previous installments it just sort of sticks out.
And I’ll admit, when I first read this book I was in awe but now I’m just sort of over it.
Overall Rating: B/B- depending on whether or not you ignore the previous four books.
Series Overall:
I still like this series upon reread, but I do notice the flaws though.  Rob Wilkins is sort of meh to okay sort of hot on my hotness scale (but seriously, dude, do NOT call Ruth fat).  And I really wish Jess would’ve kept some of her spunk in the end.  It’s true she did mature, but it’s almost as if she became Pod Person Jess.
Plus, I have a hard time believing someone who was basically music illiterate for such a long period would get into Juilliard and then proceed to complain about practicing for multiple hours-hello, it’s a conservatory.
Nitpicking aside though it was still fun to revist.
Series Rating: B+
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One thought on “Jessica, You Do Know Google Locate Sort of Made You Obsolete: 1800 Where R You Series by Meg Cabot

  1. I got your email alert, and let me tell you it scared the heck out of me when I saw my name in the title. I’ve only read the first book in the series, but from what I can remember, I had to constantly remind myself that this was published a long time before I started reading it. So yeah, it was good, but I had to suspend belief in order to enjoy it.

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