Meg Cabot is skilled at creating story premises. It's like she goes, "What would happen if...?" and then develops it into a story world. I mean, I would imagine that's what most authors do, but Meg Cabot's imagination captures what it's like to be a young woman- full of inspiration and tenacity. I love the pure fun of her books, and her ability to recreate the embarrassing incidents all girls live through with humour and grace.
When Lightning Strikes, Book 1
Code Name Cassandra, Book 2
The 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series
Meg Cabot (2001)
Originally written under pseudonym Jenny Carroll
Can now be purchased together as Vanished (2010)
I just now read these books because I was afraid that they would be scary. I know, I'm a wimp, but I seriously have to be careful about thrillers because they scare the dickens out of me. Needless to say, I found these books to be adventurous and exciting, but not really scary, so that was good!
Basically, Jess is struck by lightning on her way home from school one day, and it gives her the ability to locate missing people. If she sees a picture of a missing child, the next day she wakes up knowing where the child is. Cool, right? Unfortunately, this ability has some scary consequences... Jess finds a child who does not want to be found, and the media and government go crazy for her new ability. The attention scares her older brother who is struggling with schizophrenia, and Jess has to figure out how to straighten things out before they go out of control! Plus, there's a super attractive bad boy with a secret past...
In Book 2, Jess is a counselor at a summer camp, and she is faced with a difficult choice when she is asked to find a missing child... I can't say more than that without spoiling Book 1!
I've only read the first two books in this series (in the Vanished combo-form), but I'd love to read the others. Jess is a typical Meg Cabot heroine- she doesn't quite fit in, but she is courageous and willing to do whatever it takes to do what she thinks is right. There is also an X-Files reference that made me laugh out loud (super awkward when reading in public). The supporting characters are well developed- I love the presence of the older brother with schizophrenia. It's important for authors to incorporate characters who incidentally have mental problems. Real families deal with mental illness, and I love it when books realistically acknowledge this.
Four stars for fun stories- these would make great beach reads! I look forward to reading the rest of the series. PS. This would make a great Disney channel show (haha)!