Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: The Treasure Map of Boys


Ruby Oliver, the funny, quirky, crazy mental patient, is back at Tate Prep. She's once again dealing with the complicated world of boys (most notably Noel and the ex-boyfriend, Jackson) and friends (Nora and Meghan). She's still seeing Dr. Z and trying to work through her "issues" and deal with the panic attacks that are coming more frequently lately, especially when Jackson's around.

The premise here is a continuation of the first two books, as is the Noel-Jackson-Nora-focused plot. Roo is a crazy, quirky, remarkably confused and likable character that I've always been able to relate to far more than is probably healthy. In the first two books she worked out a few of her boy-and-friend-related issues after her best friend stole her boyfriend, and in the third installment she's trying to figure out just what she does want. What kind of friendships she wants and, more to the point, what sort of boy-girl relationship she wants. And who she wants that relationship with. Because one thing is obvious in this book: Roo wants a boyfriend. Badly. She ping-pongs between the various guys in her life: Noel, Jackson, Gideon, Finn, and despite frequently mentioning her horrible social status, she seems to have a constant group of guys who - it's obvious - would love to go out with her.

Despite the fact that these are the exact same characters that peopled the first two Ruby Oliver books, they seemed a bit flat and superficial this time around. Before, Roo was boy-obsessed, but it was with specific reasons. She was crazy about certain boys and confused over certain relationships. Now, she's just boy-obsessed. Any of them, whatever. And while this may be realistic to the teenage experience, it didn't sit quite right on Roo. In the past she had been focused on figuring out the relationships she had with guys in her life; in this book her goal was a boyfriend. That said, the characters and their dynamics continue to be well-written in this third book and the confusion of just dealing with people, not to mention the complex emotions that go along with having feelings for another human being, are portrayed wonderfully here. There were times when it seemed that there really was no "right answer" for Ruby and, even in the end, the book didn't shy away from this aspect of life.

On the whole, this was a good, funny-but-charming book. As with all of E. Lockhart's novels, there's true heart here. Though I definitely enjoyed the first two novels in the series more, this one is a worthy successor and the ending is fairly wonderful and sets us up for the fourth book perfectly.

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