“Missing” (aka “1-800-Where-R-You”) series by Meg Cabot

Rifling through the few remaining books left in the Borders closing down sale, I managed to find all five books in Meg Cabot’s Missing series, and snapped the lot up for a bargain £10. I’ve been keen to read this series for a while, but whenever I came across one of the them in a bookshop, I could never find a copy of the first book in the series so I’d never bothered buying one, and it was a pleasant surprise to find the whole lot in one go and at such a great price, that I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d read the whole lot, and with some time off over the Christmas period, I devoured them in just a few days.

The series tells of how sixteen year old Jessica Mastriani’s life changes forever when, after being struck by lightning, she suddenly finds she has an astounding new psychic power, but whether or not this is a good or bad thing, Jess has yet to discover.

I’ve mentioned before that I find Meg’s books comforting and they give me a sense of nostalgia, and when reading her YA books, I wistfully remember being a teenager. What I loved about the Missing series specifically, was that Meg Cabot has such an easy style of writing, using casual dialogue that always sounds authentic without being dated, and as usual she grounds her characters in the real world, so no matter how incredible their exploits are, they still have to deal with the mundane and everyday matters of growing up in an ordinary family.

During the series, Jess has to deal with mental health issues within her family, peer pressure, and the prospect of first love and its repurcussions, as well as her exploits leading her into contact with very unsavoury and dangerous people and groups (I don’t want to say too much without giving away plot lines and spoilers) but always written at a reasonably innocent level with nothing for parents to be concerned about their younger teenagers reading.

The first four books were published in the space of a couple of years, and are exciting and thrilling escapades with a healthy dose of danger thrown in (although I did think the “escape” sequence in the fourth book was a bit too far fetched), while the fifth book was written after a five year gap and post-9/11, with a more grown up and sombre feel at times. It’s set three years after the first books, and Jess has been through a hell it’s hard to imagine and we find her adrift in her own life. It deals with a pretty tough storyline involving a fifteen-year-old girl, including some of the dangers that can be out there in today’s modern world, but as usual there is never anything too graphic or truly nasty to have to deal with, more just a warning tale of what might happen.

Overall, the series is a great escape and fantastic entertainment, and more ammunition to keep Meg Cabot as one of my favourite authors.

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