This is a new feature that focuses on my favorite series – what makes them my favorite, and ways that they can be even more awesome (because if TV shows and movies are going to have so many prequels, sequels, reboots, and spin-offs, then gosh darn it, so are books!) And, be warned – there will probably be some minor spoilers!
First: TTYL (#1)
Normally I switch the order of these series, but with these books, I just couldn’t pick a favorite, so they get to keep their order! ttyl has so many things going for it – plenty of quotable lines (just look at the many, many quotes I had to type up down below!), the introduction to these wonderful friends, and plenty of drama to keep you entertained even if you don’t like the small moments between friends. There are quizzes and hilarious quiz results galore, emoticons and expressions and even more.
Some of the issues looked at in this book are things teens really will face, from clashes with the mean girl version of the queen bee (because not all queen bees are bad people, remember that) to boy drama. Sure, there’s a scandal with a teacher, which a lot less teenagers deal with, but it’s still out there, and it’s great seeing friends deal with it rather than reading a romanticized version of it (the only YA book I can think of that had a teacher-student relationship that I read were the Pretty Little Liars books – I was not a fan of that relationship at all).
Second: TTFN (#2)
The second book takes place during the girls’ junior year, and they encounter another huge test that threatens their friendship: one of the main characters learns that her father is moving the whole family for a new job. There’s plenty of other drama still going on in Atlanta, where the books take place, but one character has to stay connected with her friends completely through IM (and phone calls, I suppose, but it makes more sense to bring up the IMing bit).
There’s more romantic drama in this book, this time for Maddie and Zoe, but the friendship remains the focus, as well as budding sexuality and dares meant to build up confidence (kind of – that’s a nicer way of putting it). It never feels like a “middle book syndrome” case, which could be because there wasn’t a third book planned (I really don’t know how many books were planned from the beginning), plus it’s now the second book in a four book series, but it was more than that – this book feels like its own thing, not just acting as a bridge between the first and third books.
Third: L8R, G8R (#3)
And then, for the third book, we have the third book! I don’t think this book is any lesser than the previous two books, this is simply the order they’re in, as I already said. This book is all about the girls’ senior year, and it deals with something that many people complain is lacking in YA books: preparing for and stressing out about college. The girls have to worry about getting into their first choice schools, deciding where to go, and figuring out how to navigate around the idea that all three girls could be in different places in one year (or several months, as this takes place in the second half of their senior year).
There’s more romance, sex, and drama, but I still think that friendship remains the main focus of these books. Sometimes the girls’ conversations revolve around the latest drama (well, normally it does), but sometimes they just have silly and fun conversations because that’s what friends do.
(I corrected the grammar somewhat – which means I capitalized the “I”s and that’s about it)
“SnowAngel: remember the 1st day of junior high, when we all got put in the same PE class? and we had to do that [r-word, which I don’t appreciate] president’s fitness dealie, and ms. cahill made me do the stationary arm hang even tho I told her I totally couldn’t?
mad maddie: that wasn’t on the 1st day. that was like a month into the semester.
SnowAngel: and my arms gave out before she counted to 3. it was so humiliating. and everybody laffed except u and zoe.
mad maddie: cuz we are true blue
SnowAngel: that’s right. and we’ll STAY true blue 4ever and ever. we’ll all 3 go to the same college and fall in luv with awesome guys who r also best friends, and we’ll be bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and live happily ever after. *sigh*
mad maddie: whatevs. but I’m not wearing pink, even for u.”
“SnowAngel: listen, madikins. u have to get off this “poor pitiful me” kick cuz U R AWESOME. u want a list of all your glorious qualities?
mad maddie: no
mad maddie: yes
SnowAngel: ur funny. ur tough. u have awesome style even tho u never weak makeup. (u really SHOULD let me give u a makeover.) u can pull off the whole cargo-pants-and-a-tank look better than anyone, even kim possible, and your cheekbones r freakin incredible. even my mom says so.
mad maddie: she does?
SnowAngel: yeah. she’s like, maddie is someone whose looks r only gonna improve as she gets older.
mad maddie: that does not sound like a compliment.”
“zoegirl: …maybe now I can stop worrying about [Maddie] and start focusing on my english paper. I’ve got another meeting with mr. h tomorrow, and I’m kinda freakin. I really want to impress him.
SnowAngel: no sweat. just wear a tight shirt and he’ll give u an A.
zoegirl: wanna lend me one of yours?
SnowAngel: sure! *thumbs up emoticon*
zoegirl: I was KIDDING, angela.
SnowAngel: hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. that’s what my mom says.
zoegirl: that’s sick
SnowAngel: that’s my mom! ttfn!”
“zoegirl: so how’d the driving go? all set for your license?
mad maddie: u know it. I drove on northside parkway for the very first time.
zoegirl: was it scary?
mad maddie: it was a little freaky with all those cars behind me. I was like, “ahhh! pressure!” and the moms was like, “slow down! slow down!” and her foot kept pumping away at her own pretend brake on her side of the car. thank GOD they don’t have those driver’s ed cars for sale, the ones with the real break on the passenger side. the moms would be in heaven.”
“mad maddie: red hot! our team is red hot! our team is R-E-D! H-O-T! And once we start we can’t be stopped! goooooooooo team!
mad maddie: thank u guys SO MUCH for my surprise party!!!! U R AWESOME!!!!!
SnowAngel: well I swan, madigan kinnick doing a girly-girl cheer. *fans self and calls for smelling salts*
mad maddie: I wouldn’t do it for just anyone – just for my 2 best buds in the whole wide world. goooooooooo, team!”
“SnowAngel: u know how I said I needed a distraction to help me get over rob? well, welcome to recovery, baby, cuz distraction has arrived.
zoegirl: does this mean – let me just make a wild guess here – that u’ve found a new crush?
SnowAngel: it is SUCH a relief to be moving on, I can’t even tell u.
zoegirl: who’s the lucky fella?
SnowAngel: his name’s ben. *love-struck emoticon* he’s helping out with drama club, and I swear, zo, he is every kinda hot.
zoegirl: oh yeah?
SnowAngel: *drools* I think about rob now, and I don’t know what I ever saw in him. I mean, sometimes I even wonder if I was just in luv with the idea of being in luv, u know?
zoegirl: u don’t say.”
“SnowAngel: hey, do I have a mean look?
mad maddie: u?!!
SnowAngel: yes, me. is that so impossible?
mad maddie: u do not have a mean look, angela. sorry to disappoint u.
SnowAngel: oh, what do u know. I bet I DO have a mean look. I bet it makes ppl quake in their boots.
mad maddie: if by “ppl” u mean “little baby kittens,” maybe. before they wobble over and lick your face.
SnowAngel: *shoots daggers with eyes*
mad maddie: aw, look at all the baby kittens coming over! they’re so sweet!”
“SnowAngel: I’m surprised [Maddie] comes [to school] at all. I’d stay home with a mysterious illness.
zoegirl: for an entire week? anyway, she’d have to face everyone eventually. she can’t skip 4ever.
SnowAngel: I could. I’d flee to a convent and become a nun.
zoegirl: u would be a terrible nun.
SnowAngel: what r u talking about? I look good in black. I’d just have to do away with that headdress thing they wear.
zoegirl: it’s called a wimple.
SnowAngel: god, even the name is dreadful. *pretends to be a nun: excuse me while I put on my pimple – I mean dimple – I mean wimple!*
zoegirl: don’t be a nun, angela.
SnowAngel: *waves away zoe’s foolishness*”
“SnowAngel: zoe! guess what?!!
zoegirl: hol on, I’ve got one convo going on with megan and another with Kristin. they’re both pissed at each other for no good reason.
SnowAngel: well, tell them to IM each other and talk it over, cuz I’ve got to tell u my news. BEN SCHLANKER ASKED ME OUT! *squeals and dances about*
zoegirl: ben asked u out? how did THIS happen?
SnowAngel: today at drama club he made an announcement about this poetry slam at the coffee connection tomorrow nite, and he invited us all to come.
zoegirl: this counts as asking u out?
SnowAngel: yes, cuz even tho he was talking to the whole room, he looked right at me when he said it. *shakes booty in sexy circles*
zoegirl: uh, ok”
“SnowAngel: hey there, zoe-cakes. r we studs or what? 😀
SnowAngel: I have a total adrenaline buzz going, even tho I am completely and thoroughly exhausted. my muscles r gonna be crazy sore tomorrow.
zoegirl: I hear u. can u imagine how in shape we’d be if we did that every day?
SnowAngel: we could call it the winsome-threesome workout-of-the-century. we could make an exercise video and rake in oodles of cash.
zoegirl: even my toenails are tired
SnowAngel: *flops onto pretend bed and groans*
SnowAngel: I told chrissy what we did, and she was like, “u ran up the escalator at peachtree center? that super duper long one?”
zoegirl: the critical point is that we ran up the *down* escalator. u did explain that to her, didn’t u?
zoegirl: that’s gotta be the longest escalator in the world. seriously, it’s as long as a football field.
SnowAngel: I nearly lost it when maddie stopped for a breather and the escalator took her down, down, down. she was all, “noooo! I’m losing ground!”
zoegirl: hee hee
SnowAngel: but in the end we conquered it, cuz we can conquer ANYTHING, baby.”
“SnowAngel: it’s true. true blue, me and u, and don’t forget to add maddie 2.
SnowAngel: do u like my rhyme?
zoegirl: very impressive
SnowAngel: wait, there’s more! er, let’s c… since 7th grade they did not part, they stayed connected in their hearts. zoe’s the good girl, maddie’s wild, and sweet darling angela is meek and mild.
zoegirl: meek? hahahahaha! mild? hahahahaha!
SnowAngel: fine, miss brainiac. U find something to rhyme with wild.
zoegirl: “and sweet goofy angela tends to act like a child”?
SnowAngel: hey now!
zoegirl: just teasing. u know I love u.”
“mad maddie: r u serious? [refers to a bit of a spoiler, but I won’t say what]
SnowAngel: I am the epitome of all seriousness. I have grown a beard, that’s how serious I am. I will only wear tweed, with leather elbow-patches.
mad maddie: u r punch drunk
SnowAngel: *twirls about giddily* it’s true, I am. I’m drunk on magnolia trees and my aunt sadie’s mini cooper and true blue friends forever and ever. *thumbs up emoticon*”
“SnowAngel: maddie, I’m sorry to report that our zoe has gone over the edge. I fear she’s becoming ONE OF THOSE.
mad maddie: one of what?
SnowAngel: u know, on of those girls whose lives revolve around their boyfriends. she hung out with him all last nite, and now she’s off with him AGAIN – on sunday morning when she should be lounging around with greasy hair and eating lucky charms from the box!
mad maddie: let’s c, 3 guesses what UR doing right now?
SnowAngel: *sniffs and pops special edition multi-coloured whale into mouth*”
– l8r, g8r
“mad maddie: oh man, u should c my room. I can’t stop laffing.
mad maddie: angela came over yesterday, and we took a mad of sticky notes and jumped on my bed and stuck them to the ceiling.
mad maddie: then I found 5 more pads, blue green purple pink and orange. we jumped off my chair and desk and stuck them ALL OVER. I totally forgot how trashed it was until I got home from school.
zoegirl: that’s awesome. I wish I could have been there!
mad maddie: me 2. I need more of that, just good times with my buds.
zoegirl: we have had some pretty good times over the yrs, haven’t we?
mad maddie: some FABULOUS times.”
– l8r, g8r
“SnowAngel: we’re gonna be friends when we’re 80. we’ll grab our walkers and meet at maddie’s house for a pole-dancing party. we’ll gossip about who died and who got divorced and who’s got the biggest wattle. OKAY???”
– l8r, g8r
“SnowAngel: heya, zo. I’m IMing on this beautiful day to tell u that even if u super-duper want to, u can’t ask me out for dinner tonite.
zoegirl: uh… ok. only I was never planning on asking u to dinner. was I?
SnowAngel: I’m just saying that if u got a wild hair and suddenly needed to go out for burritos, u’d have to call mads. not me. k?
zoegirl: right. well. that was out of nowhere, but sure.
zoegirl: anything else going on? did mrs. evangelista decide whether your exam’s gonna be take-home?
SnowAngel: *huffs in indignation* I can’t believe ur talking about exams instead of taking me to dinner. do u not WANT to ask me to dinner?
zoegirl: u just told me NOT to!
SnowAngel: I make this big deal out of telling u and maddie that I’m not available for dinner, and do either of u even fight it? nooooooo, ur both just like, “sure, whatevs, is your exam gonna be a take-home?”
zoegirl: sweetie. r we having an angela moment?
SnowAngel: it’s like ur not even aware that we only have 3 more days of school. THREE MORE DAYS to enjoy just being us, and then come exams, followed by graduation, followed by 5 billion zillion graduation parties. and the parties will be fun, but they won’t exactly be winsome-threesome intimate. I’m just SAYING.
zoegirl: oh good heavens
zoegirl: angela… would u like to go to dinner tonite?
SnowAngel: oh, thank u so much for asking! that is so thoughtful! *hugs zoe and smothers her with smooches*
SnowAngel: but no, I can’t. sorry.
SnowAngel: I’m taking *myself* out, that’s why. this is STAND ALL FOR ANGELA DAY, and in my brain I will be saying “hahahaha” to logan and every other boy on the planet, cuz I do not need a boy to be complete.
SnowAngel: I’m going to have a lovely time if it kills me, and that’s why I can’t drag u or maddie along. make sense?
zoegirl: yes, altho u could have just said that.
SnowAngel: g2g. gotta go primp for my hot date – with myself! 😀”
– l8r, g8r
Angela and Maddie are tied for my favorite characters. Angela is very bubbly, flirty, optimistic, and expressive – except for the last adjective, that doesn’t really describe me, so you’d think I wouldn’t connect with her that much. I don’t know if I connected with her in the sense that we are similar and I can relate to her, but I definitely connected to her in the idea that I loved her character and she felt real and exciting and fun, like someone who I would want to be friends with.
Maddie is often the opposite of Angela. She’s a bit pessimistic, very snarky, has a dark humor, and is the most likely to curse out of the three girls. She says what she thinks and she can be very prickly, especially in the first book after some of the drama she goes through. She’s tough, but she’s a bit of a softy on the inside and when she feels completely safe with her two best friends.
Zoe is the one I least connect with and care the least about (sorry, Zoe, I still like you, just not as much!), which is ironic since she’s probably the closest to me personality-wise. She can be timid and shy, a bit awkward, much more comfortable following the rules and not making waves. She’s the “bookworm,” the “good girl” (a term I don’t like because it tends to fit under the whole Madonna-Whore complex, but it does fit Zoe a bit), which is why it’s really cool that she’s the character who explores her sexuality the most over the course of the series.
There are a few different romances throughout the book, so there’s definitely romance, and as I’ve mentioned there’s a great exploration of girls’ growing sexuality, but it was still never a big focus in the way that friendship was. There’s a romance with the nice guy you work with, romance with the jerky guy in your class that begins with insta-love (well, insta-lust) and soon implodes, romance with a stoner, romance with a guy you don’t like as much as he likes you, romance with the nerdy guy who turns out to be more, and romance with an ex. There are some good relationships, some bad ones, and some in between – because isn’t that the whole spectrum of most people’s lives?
It’s not a spin-off per say, but the sudden sequel that came out this week (I swear I did not plan this post to come out the same week – I just kept putting off finishing it!) is its own kind of spin-off, following the girls as they head off to separate colleges. If I wanted to see an actual spin-off, though, I think I’d like to see into the life of Angela’s younger sister or Maddie’s older brother (Angela’s sister because I think it would be interesting, Maddie’s brother because his girlfriend, a hippie-esque girl who loves soy milk – or something like that – and cute baby chicks, would be interesting to read more about).
Let go for tonight baby, who needs sleep tonight?
I need to let go, let go
Let go, let go, turn off the lights,
Let love in your life baby, who needs sleep tonight?
Why is everybody so serious?
Acting so damn mysterious?
Got your shades on your eyes
And your heels so high
That you can’t even have a good time
I’m in love, alright
With my crazy, beautiful life
With the parties, the disasters
With my friends all pretty and plastered