Title - Mission : Love
Alternate title - Harriet the Spy is my Hero
page count - 170 pages of utter madness
The Agenda - Get this Allie, Marion, Nicky, Sara – four teenage girls – teenage mind you – decide that in order to understand boys – i.e. discover whether Marion’s recent boyfriend is a cheat – they will spy on them. Yup, you read that right. Spy.
Plot - The plot is a bit flaky, a bit fun, a bit unbelievable. Four teenage girls who do okay in the date department ( accept for Sara ) have decided it would be cool?! To spy on their boyfriends or prospective boyfriends cause they used to have a spy club when they were eleven. I don’t know about you but I when I was 11 I had a rip-off Unicorn club and I wouldn’t resurrect that sucker for all the money in the world. Who in the world thinks that something they did at eleven is a guideline for behavior at sixteen? But Allie our Mc is all set, she even has a folder titled Mission: Love ( lol ) all ready to go. She just has to convince her, more levelheaded ( for the most part ) friends. Marion, despite being the whiner who sparked the idea in the first place, doesn’t want to do it and is only willing to find out if her boyfriend Burke is a cheat. Nicky is just up for the Hell of it. Sara has nothing better to do. Although Allie is all set to make a fool of herself, she won’t let anyone know which boy she has her eye on. Ohho! Afraid your dear will bolt if he gets your scope in his view. She’s not so dumb after all – well, I won’t speak too soon. Burke works at a grocery store and the second I heard that I was okay here comes the crash of pyramid produce. Oranges, pork n’bean cans or toilet paper – as a metaphor for this crappy idea. Burke is doing his thing as cashier, while Nicky and Allie hide behind a H stack of cereal boxes. Ah cereal boxes – light weight. Two gorgeous girls come in and flirt with Burke the girls hold their breath – he doesn’t flirt back – sigh of relief because like that would be what, a dead give away? Nicky in her excitement topples the cereal boxes. I laughed slightly after all they kind of have it coming. But even if the writer wants to teach her character not to be a jack-ass why make her one in the first place. Allie finally gets to know her dream guy Greg because ….her and Sara start to follow him. Frankly, I’m thinking these girls haven’t mentally left fifth grade. Especially when they wind up in an arcade playing vintage video games – vintage for 1986. No mention of The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros nope – Pac Man? Please. Anyhow, Greg seems like a nice guy, too nice for Allie. She asks him out but spoils their night spying on another boy. And then the twist comes the moment the game will backfire. She overhears Burke bragging about going to a party – when Marion is out of town. She breaks a date to sneak over to the party. And is caught by Greg peaking into windows. He followed her and she has the gall for about a page to be offended that he followed her. And then the dawn comes. Doh. Nobody likes to be followed. She explains her childish behavior, he laughs and doesn’t dump her. Nice guy.
Unintentionally funny - Most is set up in a kind of farce style – the cereal boxes, you just know they’ll wind up on the floor under the landslide, and her second daffy attempt to spy by hiding under a table in the library will wind up with someone sitting at her table – trapping her and her scaring the blazes out of someone. It’s nice though that they had a boy scream like a girl for once.
Funny - The idea that the girls were all for this without one of them suggesting how would you feel if you were spied on.
That’s whacked - They made such a deal about the Mission : Love folder I thought – oh this would be so cool if this was a preteen novel. It tries to be grown up and stand tall and have a moral, but it’s ripe for the trashy antics of Jessica Wakefield and her Unicorn sisters. To have the tables turned on them for boys to nab the folder, see how they rate, what their interests are etc. and then start to misbehave accordingly. Or maybe make a folder of there own. Plus with all this spying and listening in – there wasn’t any information that would’ve made the girls cringe. Like Hey dude, I got this mysterious crotch itch. Or that Sara’s got bad breath or yowers, that Allie’s got a nice pair of…But this is after all the world of Sweet Dreams.
Best Comment - If only I could’ve heard more. – Allie after listening in and not understanding what it meant.
Bullwer Little would be proud or fun cheesy moments – A boy screaming when a girl he didn’t know was under his table at the library, the ‘locker room’ talk cleaned up for Sweet Dreams. The author intrusion moment in which two girls moan and groan over sundae’s about the awfulness of their dateness Friday night only to back peddle and agree that they don’t need boys and they have nothing to complain about and …ohwait a boy! thank God our Friday is saved. Lol.
Cover Art - Imagine being the model picked to represent a snoopy girl. Is it me do I have a snoopy face, is it the slight nose wrinkle, the sly smile. Sigh. The look is oddly matronly – pale pink sweater set. I wonder if the girls show up in their own clothes or if there’s a rack. Here’s wear the pale pink it makes you look demure.
Summary / Opinion - The idea is so goony it’s hard to like. And it’s a reminder that though these books are about high school girls the recommended reading age starts at 11. Because to me this would be my thoughts on how to behave as a high school at 11. Spy on your boyfriend, just like Harriet the Spy.
80′s comparison - Not much though there is an arcade setting which I like but Sweet Dreams moves so swiftly writers barely have time to build atmosphere. No bloops and bleeps, no greasy junk food. Here’s an old arcade video haven’t watched it because my player’s messed up, but it looks cool.
P.s. If you can find the first episode of the Babysitter’s club series – Mary Anne and the Brunettes – the girls spy on Logan and virtually the same things happen!
Recommendation – Okay if this is the kind of story that floats your boat, go for it. Order the book and enjoy. I can only recommend it on the laugh factor which it can be kinda funny but it’s not my fave Sweet Dreams – out of five stars sorry but ** 1/2 is the best I can give it.