I wasn’t in love with Jinx to begin with (more on that later), but when I hit page 241, I nearly threw it across the room. You see our heroine, who is a witch, learning to harness and embrace her witchy side, is in danger. And this imminent danger is what is pushing her to acknowledge her true self as a powerful witch. And what does our girl do? All filled up with witchiness, how does she save herself? I’ll tell you how. By sending a mental message to a boy asking him to come save her. Because when you have all the power of women for generations stored inside you, what you really need is a cute guy with no magical powers to save your butt. GRRR. I may have to go read Paper Bag Princess five times fast to reassure myself that girls are intelligent, functional human beings who are capable of saving themselves. Meg Cabot, I expected more from you!!
So why wasn’t I loving it even before I came to the sets-women-back-fifty-years ending? Well, a major character uses drugs. While it’s clearly not condoned, there’s a part where it’s asked if she’s an addict or just uses recreationally. When we find out that she just uses recreationally, a lot of the concern is gone. People. When we’re talking three different kinds of drugs and a high school sophomore, there’s reason for concern.
While most of the book focuses on boys, friendship and finding yourself, all in a rather light-hearted tone, there’s also a part where a character attempts suicide although it’s possible that it wasn’t really an attempted suicide but rather a staged attempted suicide where she’s being a drama queen. It just didn’t fit with the overall tone of the book.
There was a definite lack of fun magic. If anyone is looking for homework doing spells, floating objects, there is nothing like that here. The few positive spells cast were dull, and everything else was sort of black magic, voodoo doll icky stuff.
Also in the interest of full disclosure, I am aware that some people object to any books on witches on religious and moral grounds. Of all the witchy books I’ve read so far, this is the first one where they actually touch the question of witchcraft-as-religion. Although I’m guessing if you have a problem with that, you probably would have a problem with about 85% of the content of this book (see below) and should move on to the next offering anyway.
Sex, Nudity, Dating -Oh Meg. The innuendo is thick in this one. Many things are left to the imagination. My grown-up imagination fills in the blanks in a rather R-rated way. Perhaps your teen is more innocent? Naive? Unlikely to jump to the conclusions I did?
At one point we’re told that Tory has “got it so bad for [Zach] she can already taste-if you know what I mean.” I don’t know for sure. As a matter of fact, I’ll be much happier if I never try to finish that sentence, because the choices are not particularly appealing. Later we’re told (repeatedly) that Tory spends her free period with her not-boyfriend Shawn in the boiler room. When Shawn is asked why he doesn’t get rid of Tory he says it’s because she performs a valuable service for him everyday during free period. I think we all know she’s not doing his math homework. With that covered, on to the rest of this category. 5-year-old Alice draws a picture of the day Jean is born, with her “coming out of Aunt Charlotte”. Lots of people like each other. Jinx says that as a preacher’s daughter everyone expects you to be prissy or slutty. Tory has an open relationship/friends with benefits situation with Shawn. Tory is in her room in a bra and miniskirt. There are a lot of references to the makeup that the girls wear. I’ve never noticed this in a book before, but it really struck me how heavily made up everyone was. A boy is shirtless and has his jeans buttoned wrong. The au pair says her boyfriend is sleeping on the couch but when Jinx goes down there he is in the au pair’s bedroom in nothing but boxer shorts. The book includes descriptions of kissing that include a body being molded against another body.
Profanity – “hell” is used at least twice, frequent use of “God”, Tory gives her friend the finger, some uses of “bitch” and “bitchy”, “shit”, “Jesus”, “pissed”, “damned” (out of the mouth of a 10 yr. old), “damned” (out of the mouth of a teenager), “screw that”, “sucks”, and there’s one part where Zach says some “very bad” swear words that aren’t printed.
Death, Violence and Gore – Tory tells everyone Jinx is being stalked and that the guy will probably come and “murder us in our beds” Jinx is hit by a bike messenger. A great-great-great-great-grandmother was burned at the stake for witchcraft. A decapitated rat is hung on a locker. One girl slaps another across the face. Right, so there’s also a part where one girl plans on drinking another’s blood and doing a spell with mushrooms to steal her powers. She has a knife ready to cut the girl with and says if the mushrooms end up being poisonous people will just think she tried to kill herself. There’s also the whole possibly faked attempted suicide part mentioned above.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Tory’s friends smoke. There’s a reference to Kate Moss using cocaine. Characters talk about copping a buzz. Tory does drugs (incl. Valium and Ritalin), Shawn deals drugs. Tory’s friends are drinking Long Island Ice Teas, Jean takes a sip and spits it out. Several characters smoke marijuana. Zach offers to get Jean a fake ID so they can go to a club to hear music. A character attempts suicide by pill overdose.
Frightening or Intense Things – None of this is particularly scary, not even the bit where one girl is trying to drink the blood of another. But then again, It’s possible I was not invested at all because I was annoyed. You may feel differently.