Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Year of Secret Assignments

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

3 out of 5 stars

What exactly is a secret assignment? Is it a super secret mission with espionage and spying all mixed in? Is it a school project that isn’t what it seems? Or how about both? Well, that’s actually what a secret assignment is, a super secret mission that usually takes place at school. However, these missions come in the form of scented pieces of notepaper inside envelopes sealed with red wax that are slipped into lockers. Kooky, eh?

There are only three “agents” involved in these secret assignments; Lydia Jaackson-Oberman (Lyd), Cassandra Jane Aganovic (Cassie), and Emily Melissa-Anne Thompson (Em). They are all best friends and attend the private Ashbury High School. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t be telling you all of this? I mean, it is highly classified information. But, you wouldn’t tell anyone, right?

Now that I have your trust, I can let you know that these three girls have been given an assignment, but this time it’s not one of their secret assignments. It’s an assignment from their English teacher, Mr. Botherit, who wants them to become pen pals with the students from their rival high school, Brookfield High. Brookfield High! He wants them to write to those kids with prison records, tattoos, and all sorts of other scary stuff? Well then, we’ll just have to see how this goes.

As the letters are sent back and forth between schools, Lydia, Cassie, and Emily all get to know people from Brookfield, and, to tell you the truth, they’re not half bad. But as they learn more about their pen pals, some unsettling events start to occur. What was supposed to be a simple pen pal project has now turned into an all-out war between the schools. With the girls at the center of it all, Lydia, Cassie, and Emily take it into their own hands to prove their innocence. Are the three best friends in more danger than they originally thought? Who is framing them like this, and could it be one of their own pen-pals? Jaclyn Moriarty reveals all, in this subterfuge filled tale, The Year of Secret Assignments!

This book definitely has something for everyone. It was fun, enjoyable, and interesting at the same time. The Year of Secret Assignments is more-so for older readers, fourteen and up, as it uses inappropriate language and involves events that happen in high school. Also, this kind of book may not interest younger readers as much. This book is a lot of fun to read though, as it is written in the form of letters, journal entries, and an assortment of other things.

To elaborate more on the way that this book is written, I enjoyed the style very much. It was fun to learn about the characters through letters and to see how they interacted with other characters. Plus, I also enjoyed how different characters retold certain events that had occurred from their perspective. For example, something might have happened in the story, but later I would read Lydia, Cassie, and Emily’s own version of the event. This was a nice touch as I really got to hear everyone’s side of the story and learn even more about each character.

However, sometimes the way in which The Year of Secret Assignments was told did not help move the story along. This was due to the fact that sometimes I would only be reading two characters’ correspondence, and then suddenly the story would focus on two different characters. The problem with this is that when the story went back to the first two characters, I had read about them so long ago that I barely remembered what was going on between them. And vice versa with the second pair of characters. When the story was told in blocks like this it did not help move the story along, as I just became even more confused.

Another aspect that I did not enjoy as much, was how out there the story seemed. The Year of Secret Assignments is a great book for teenagers, but it might put some off with how all over it is. For example, the story starts out with Lydia, Cassie, and Emily writing to their new pen pals, but then things start to get out of hand and end up leading to a trial to prove who was guilty for a series of acts! This made the story feel a little less realistic than it could have been.

Lydia, Cassie, Emily, and their pen pals, are characters that I won’t forget! The characters in this book were molded and shaped so well, and I appreciated this very much. I feel that if I was in a situation I would know just how any one of these characters would react or respond. Also, the characters in The Year of Secret Assignments, mainly the three best friends, were so down-to-earth, and had unique personalities. Lydia, Cassie, and Emily truly represent what being best friends is all about.

To sum it all up, The Year of Secret Assignments was an enjoyable read that is a lot of fun. Join Lydia, Cassie, and Emily, as they meet new people, learn what friendship is all about, and perform significant secret assignments, in The Year of Secret Assignments!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out the Year of Secret Assignments website at
The Year of Secret Assignments is available from Amazon here.

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