Meg Cabot has the formula to writing a teen book down pat. She knows how to plan out her plots well: Girl meets Boy who she, a) doesn't like or, b) is best friends with and doesn't like romantically. Then, Girl finds out she has something extraordinary in her life (either supernatural powers, unknown royalty, or internal strength), followed by denial, denial, denial, a lot of complaining, and eventual acceptance. To finish, she realizes she loves the Boy she either hates or is best friends with. Happy ever after. It may be a formula, but it's a formula that works.
Jean Honeychurch is so unlucky that even her family calls her Jinx. To escape an unpleasant situation with a boy who refuses to let her end their relationship, Jinx moves from Iowa to Manhattan to live with her aunt and her family in their swanky Upper East Side townhouse. It's no surprise that the klutzy, small-town 16-year-old doesn't fit in with snotty, chic cousin Torrance - Tory - and her friends, and she definitely doesn't share their fondness for drugs and alcohol. Tory, who has been practicing witchcraft for some time, soon realizes that Jinx also has the gift and invites her cousin to join her coven. But Jinx knows the dangers of playing with magic and refuses. Tory sees Jinx's snub as a threat and plots against her. Though she wants to leave magic behind, Jinx must learn to harness the mysterious powers that are her birthright before Tory does too much damage. Ms. Cabot creates believable conflict and avoids being too fantastical, as Tory's mental instability is more dangerous than her Wiccan powers.
I found Jinx to be a cute story - in the vein of a milder The Craft story - although it did have a few minor flaws. Namely the title character; Jinx's character was a little confusing at some times. The way she talked about her oh-so-dreaded secret from her hometown made it seem like it was something extremely incriminating, but when that secret was revealed, I didn't find it to be that horrible. Strangely, my favorite aspect of this novel was Jinx's cousin Tory's diabolical character. It kept some surprises and twists in the plot. Jinx is a character who questions herself a lot and does not realize that the BOY OF HER DREAMS actually likes HER.
For the most part, this book was sweet and charming and I spent a wonderful afternoon enjoying the story. If you have teenage daughters, this is a great book with a moral. Even though drugs and alcohol are mentioned early in the book and several times throughout, Jinx turns out to be an excellent role model and a good influence.
If you love heart-warming, young adult fiction, then Jinx by Meg Cabot is perfect for a few hours of escapism reading.