Review: Third Degree by Julie Cross

third degreeReviewed by Janell

I enjoyed this book so, so much. I’d had a stretch of not loving books for a while, and was worried that I was too jaded to really enjoy something. But then I met Izzy and Marsh, and I got all the feels, and I was in a book coma afterwards, not wanting to start anything else because it would tarnish my happy thoughts.

Izzy is an 18-year-old genius. She was home-schooled for a couple of years, then did Stanford online high school, started college at twelve, then went to medical school. She was on a Dr. Phil show about child prodigies. When the book begins, she’s finishing up her surgical internship, which is a training year between medical school and residency.

Izzy assumes that she will be accepted into Johns Hopkins for her surgical residency, and is stunned when a psychologist doesn’t clear her for future training. According to the “not-even-a-real-doctor,” Izzy doesn’t have the ability to see the consequences or understand the impact her actions have on others. She has zero bedside manner. The psychologist recommends that she take six months off to experience some “age-related milestones,” the subtext suggesting that she become less robotic.

Izzy’s life has always been on the fast track, and she has no desire to experience these milestones. She’s just fine, thank you very much. But she follows orders and enrolls in a college two hours away from home to experience dorms, roommates, poetry class, and boot camp. She plans to fit in like a regular student and not let anyone know that she’s a genius doctor.

Marshall is Izzy’s RA. He also knows who she really is because they’re from the same town; Izzy’s mom was his high school biology teacher. He decides to help Izzy be normal. Izzy quickly learns that pointing out someone’s cold sore isn’t polite, and that swabbing her roommate’s one-night-stand for STDs isn’t standard behavior. She learns how to communicate with others by listening to them, not going off on a scientific tangent when she speaks.

In return for social training, Izzy helps Marshall study. He’s attractive, she’s attractive, and Izzy speaks frankly about what could happen between them, and whether it should happen. Let’s just say that, when they study anatomy together, it’s how every person wishes they could study anatomy with a sexy, smart person.

The book is written in first person present tense, from Izzy’s point of view, and it’s challenging yet revealing. In the beginning, she really does see things as black and white, people are a list of symptoms to be diagnosed, downtime is spent calculating the probability of natural disasters alphabetically by continent. Marshall teaches her relate to people, to not always be in charge, to face the possibility of not being perfect. A telling moment for Izzy is when she says, “I’m right and you’re wrong and I hate not getting my way, but I’m dealing with it.” That’s practically enlightenment for her.

I just loved these characters. I loved how Marshall dealt with Izzy, and how Izzy freaked out when she realized she had actual feelings for him. I loved how they helped each other, how their strengths and weaknesses balanced out so perfectly, how the climax was dramatic and emotional and romantic. The premise seemed unbelievable to me at the beginning, but by the end I was buying every bit of it. I’m going to keep this around as a comfort read forever.

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by publisher for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Third Degree
by Julie Cross
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Flirt


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