That was some unexpected awesome right there.
It is rare, like a diamond in the rough, but it exists; a sequel that is better than the first book.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cracked, the first installment in Eliza Crewe’s book series of undetermined length; I loved the characters and the humour, but wasn’t overly impressed with the plot and pacing. I gave it three stars (bordering on four), but for the longest time I wasn’t sure if I was interested enough to pick up the sequel. Having then procured an ARC of Crushed, I thought I might as well, if only for a bit of fun. I was in need of a light, fun read at the time and expected Crushed to be as funny and entertaining as its predecessor.
Yeah. I didn’t anticipate the awesome.
Eliza Crewe has seriously upped her game. The stakes are much higher in book #2; while the fun and comedy is still a big part of the novel, it takes a back seat as protagonist Meda’s struggle with good and evil becomes a lot more intense. She’s as sassy and bad-ass as she’s ever been, but the whole point of this story is that she has to pick a side.
“Those were the options I was given, side with the demons or die. I came up with option three – kick ass and take names.”
Meda being Meda, she begins by resisting. But as the severity of her situation dawns on her and she realizes over the course of the book the impact of her decisions, we really see a focus on her insecurities, her mistakes, her selfish and childish side. We really revel in her flaws in this book and watching her indecision to either overcome or succumb to them is just so riveting. I kept going back and forth between rooting for her evil side and her good side and I still don’t really know what route I’d like to see her take in the next book(s). She’s Andromeda Melange! Her name literally encompasses her entire being: she is a mix between the two and I have a feeling she’ll always be straddling the two sides. But in the end, I guess that’s the point, and the underlying message of the series.
Meda also gets a love story in this. I enjoyed the fact that Meda had no love interest in book #1 (and that she never even contemplated her relationship status), so when a love interest popped up in Crushed I was a little disappointed. But it ended up being absolutely perfect.
“You can love a monster. It can even love you back, but that doesn’t change its nature. This isn’t Beauty and the Beast where my kiss would transform the monster to a prince. If anything, it’s Shrek, and his kiss brings out the ogre in me.”
Armand is a very good love interest. He is, quite literally, a bad boy, and Meda responds to him exactly the way a young woman should: she doesn’t trust him. She knows his game and keeps her distance, even though sometimes she finds him hard to resist.
“But he turns his long-lashed eyes on me, full of entreaty, as if he were saying: please, please let me come murder the molester with you. How do you say “no” to eyes like those? They are a magical combination of sex and puppy.”
It’s awesome to see this in a YA novel, a genre that’s currently overflowing with shit like Hush, Hush where idiotic teenage leads are overly trusting of shady characters. I’m sick to death of it, but of course Meda didn’t disappoint me. She’s one of the best YA protagonists I have ever seen and her whole love story was perfect. And it didn’t overshadow the plot either, which was fabulous by the way. It definitely gripped me more than the plot of book #1, and was filled with twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming a mile off. Just as in Cracked, Eliza Crewe got the formula down. The perfect blend of action, explanation, MAGIC!, character development and humour. All at the right time. It was remarkably well pulled-off (*takes notes*).
I do wish we had seen more of Chi in this, I did love the adorable, puffed-up dumbass in book #1. He’s a bit of a caricature, but he’s still awesome. He reminds me of Prince Edward in Enchanted.
Instead of Chi, we got a lot more of Jo, and to be honest I can’t really complain. Jo has grown massively in this; first presented as the hard-boiled bitch in book #1, we see a much more important and softer side to her in this. She proves herself to be the ultimate friend to Meda, and what Jo goes through for her is heartbreaking when you compare it to the shit that Meda selfishly puts her through. Though she’s only seventeen, Jo strikes me as the bad-ass mum character; a strong woman who takes charge in protecting those she loves, but ultimately still needs that same love back. And I absolutely love her.
“But seriously, what do you say to your best friend when you stand at the gates of the gates of hell?
Nothing. If it’s your best friend, she already knows.”
I couldn’t not give this five stars. There was so much that I was completely in love with, it didn’t matter that we didn’t see enough Chi, that maybe it would have been cool to have more world-building, or some explanation about the magic system. When there’s so much that a book’s got going for it, the flaws are so easily overlooked.
I could fault Crushed if I tried enough, but I don’t need or want to.
Actually you know what, I can fault it; it was over too soon.
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