published by Random House Publishing (Flirt) in March 2014
I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.
Nath: Last year, I discovered Ms Cross through Letters to Nowhere. This was my first foray in New Adult and I really enjoyed it! So when I heard that Ms Cross was writing another New Adult book, it was a no brainer to pick it up… and share it with Ames :)
So Ames, what did you think of Third Degree?
Ames: I am so glad you brought this book to my attention! I’ve quickly become a fan of Julie Cross’ new adult books and Third Degree was no exception. The heroine, Isabel, reminded me a bit of Christina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy in its early seasons. And I loved Christina’s character.
Nath: That’s actually a very good comparison, Ames. Indeed, Isabel lacked some social skills. I don’t think it was so much because she didn’t have the social experiences that everyone did… but more because she was simply very blunt. I liked that her awkwardness was not all about her IQ like so many genius characters that we’ve seen and the fact that she wasn’t sheltered.
Ames: I agree. She had a genius IQ but going through school so fast made her miss out on very important socialization and rites of passage typical to average children and teens. Plus she was arrogant. She’s almost hard to like at the beginning. But we see her vulnerability so that made me empathize with her character.
Nath: Yes, the arrogance was an issue and so was her inability to accept blame as the psychologist said. As a result, I thought Izzy going to normal college wasn’t a bad idea at all. She needed to interact with people, to understand them a bit more. And seriously, she’s lucky she ran into Marshall! He was such a nice and understanding guy, trying to help her out!
Ames: Marshall was a great character, and I liked his story, not just the fact that he’s a hot nice guy. LOL It was an interesting dynamic considering Izzy’s medical background. Plus with RA’s having rules not to hook up with people on their floor, I just liked their whole set up. :P
Nath: I really liked Marshall’s character and his story. What I liked is that he showed Izzy the other end of the spectrum, what it is to be sick and to care. Sure, it was a bit coincidental that he’d happen to have a chronic disease, but it definitively worked :)
The RA thing didn’t work as well for me. The whole “forbidden” relationship is so over-used nowadays and I’d have rather Marshall be just another guy in the dorm than a RA. Especially given the way it was resolved, you know?
Something else that I would have liked Ms Cross to address was Izzy’s issues with her parents’ divorce. Izzy was put in foster care at a young age and moved around a lot until her parents adopted her. She needs stability and her parents divorce is threatening that stability. I feel that part of the story got swept under the rug and that’s unfortunate.
Ames: I didn’t mind the RA stuff. It gave a bit of an impediment to them getting together right off the bat. It also gave a bit of distance to them at the beginning, which is how Marshall was able to get through Izzy’s defenses and for her to lighten up and let him in.
I agree that the stuff with Izzy’s parents was left unresolved. I wonder if there’s going to be a sequel?
Nath: I think it’s a high possibility, especially since New Adult is so popular right.
As much as I enjoyed Izzy and Marshall’s characters and interaction… I still feel that Izzy was far from being comfortable with normal people. She did open up and I especially liked that she kind of developed a friendship with Justin… but I wonder… Izzy will never be “normal” what with her age and genius IQ, but is there more she can do?
Ames: Hmm...I think maybe Marshall will continue to be a good influence on her in that way. And she did learn not to be afraid of her emotions. I think there’s still room for her to continue to grow. I thought the book ended on a hopeful note. It did for me anyway.
Nath: It definitively did :)
So what’s your grade for Third Degree? For me, it’s a B. I enjoyed Ms Cross’s writing, the story and the characters, but I thought something was missing.
Ames: I’m giving it a B+. I really enjoyed it overall.