Sunday, February 20, 2011
Book Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
Why did nobody tell me Lisa McMann had a new book out? I loved the Wake trilogy, loved it ever since I first picked up the original book. I stumbled on Cryer’s Cross by chance and let me tell you, I was ecstatic. It didn’t disappoint.
Kendall Fletcher is a teenager with OCD, living in the small Montana farming town of Cryer’s Cross, where high school can be contained in one room and pretty much everything revolves around the potato harvest. At the start of her senior year, Kendall’s best friend Nico disappears without a trace – just like a freshman girl who’d vanished months earlier – and the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral without her friend’s guiding light, Kendall fears that she’s losing her mind, especially when she starts to hear the voices of the missing calling out to her from graffiti on an old school desk.
There is something really intriguing about McMann’s writing style. It’s simplistic, straightforward, and, at first glance, seems to break the most oft-repeated writing “rule” – that is to say, that it tells more than it shows – yet it works. It works wonders. It drives you straight through the story, the momentum bolstered by wonderful character development and great pacing.
Another thing I have to appreciate: unlike most paranormal romance series, I can actually fall in love with McMann’s bad boy heroes. Jacián Obregon seems like the world’s biggest jerk and is initially suspected to be behind the missing freshman’s disappearance. He’s got the attitude, the danger element, and the general uneasiness of a newcomer in a tight-knit little town.
But unlike so many bad Byronic alpha males in YA pararomance, Jacián is actually a good person underneath everything. He has moments when he’s a jerk, and moments when he’s sincere. He has understandable frustrations that he takes out in understandable but frustrating ways. He and Kendall have some genuine chemistry that evolves over time, and it’s believable. He is a genuine, attractive male lead.
YA romance writers, take note: this is how a romantic lead should be done.
And even better? The conclusion of the book, after 150 pages of atmosphere building, creepy voices, and romantic tension, is genuinely scary. I mean, I sat in the parking lot of a McDonald’s and let my food go cold because I didn’t want to put it down, oh-god-oh-god-what’s-gonna-happen-next scary.
It’s an excellent pay-off for an excellent book.
If you somehow haven’t read anything by Lisa McMann, start with this stand-alone, then go get the Wake trilogy as soon as you can. Cryer’s Cross is just plain good, and I can’t wait to see what the author’s going to come up with next.