Wood, M. (2009). What I Wore to Save the World. New York: Berkley Jam.
Appetizer: It's been three months since the events of How I Found the Perfect Dress and Morgan and her friends and family have been struck by the (very annoying) college-stress-what's-your-future-freak-out stick. Morgan has no idea what she wants to do, but a discussion with a strange councilor named Cornelius Phineas opens up the possibility that even though Morgan has been quite the slacker in the grades department, she still has a chance at studying Irish mythology at Oxford.
As Morgan entertains the possibility as a chance to bring her closer to non-boyfriend and love, Colin, she receives a cryptic message from him, asking her to fly to England NOW. And, of course, she does. She winds up in Wales and reunited with Colin, but must find a way to save the world while deciding whether to tell Colin the truth about who she is.
I don't think I could have read this book as a junior or senior in high school (and not just because it wasn't published yet). As a teen who was freaking out about colleges and acceptance letters, I don't think I would have done well to read about a character in a similar situation. No, that's not true. I would not have wanted to read about a character who was a slacker in school, yet still had a magical option to attend Oxford, when I'd worked my bum-bum off and still had to deal with a rejection from my first choice public university that made me question my self-worth. (Grade obsessed? Who me? Not so much anymore, I swear.)
Of course, the story eventually becomes less focused on Oxford as--you know--Morgan has to find a way to save the world. But I just think I would have had trouble with that.
There is a positive to all this college talk though. Morgan is quick to realize that choosing a college is about HER and what she wants for her life. Since so many college-planning high schoolers have to deal with family pressures and expectations this discussion in the book can serve as a nice reminder of who should be the focus when choosing colleges. (Of course, this lesson has the potential to be lost, since Morgan's choice is still so dependent on being close to Colin. A fact I take issue with since the first book of the series was about her recovering from loosing herself in a guy in a previous relationship. From my perspective, it started to feel like Morgan lost herself again.)
I also wanted to briefly go back to the covers:
Overall, I do like them even though three different models represent one character. I also like the blending of reality and fantasy by taking a photo and imposing fantasy elements on top of it. But I do have one problem. The hair. In all three books, Morgan's hair ranges from shaved to a pixie cut. Is it beyond the realm of possibility to have a model with short hair on the cover of a book?
Now that I've been more than a wee-bit critical. Let me point out a very entertaining and positive aspect of this book:
There are cheerleading unicorns!
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien figure as minor characters.
Does that strike your fancy?
I've also found out that Maryrose Wood has started another series. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is drawing comparisons to A Series of Unfortunate Events. But this time around, the young characters were raised by wolves and the series itself will actually focus on the teenage girl who is helping to raise them.
"And so, in the immortal words of Polonius--"
"In the words of Shakespeare, he means," Sarah hissed in my year. "Polonius was fictional! God, that ex-boyfriend of yours is such a dweeb--" (p. 1).
"My point is, it's not just about you."
"Mom, I hate to tell you this."
She started to say something else, then stopped. "What?"
"My choosing a college? My choosing a career? Me choosing what I want to do with my life?"
"It is about me."
I liked the sound of that as soon as I'd said it, so I said it again. "It's about me. It really is."
"So what is it, then?"I was running out of patience.
"You're worried [Oxford]'ll be too expensive? You're afraid I'll come back with a funny accent? What?"
Dad shook his head. Mom just hmmmed and mmmmed.
"They don't think you're smart enough to get in," Tammy said cheerfully. "Can I have more bread?"
But then even Tammy shut up, so we could all inhale the pungent stink bomb of truth the kid had lobbed into the living area.
Major. Awkward. Silence" (p. 26).
"I wanted it all: Oxford and the cute Irish boyfriend (okay, one of those things I actually wanted more than the other). And I knew there must be some kind of half-goddess destiny in store for me. But was I supposed to wait for it to show up and ring the doorbell? Or was I supposed to go looking for it?
And how do you go looking for something when you don't know what it is?" (p.39).
"I stared at the envelope, not wanting to open it in front of my mother in case Tinker Bell flew out of it, trailing a stream of magic sparkle-dust" (p. 50).
Tasty Rating: !!!