Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crescendo [Review]

Title: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush, Hush #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
What They Say:

Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch, and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

What I Say:
Despite my early skepticism about yet another girl-falls-for-supernatural-stalker series, Hush, Hush was a lovely escape from the norm: mixing cringe-worthy cliché with fresh new plot devices and a mysterious badass who is actually a little bit badass. Knowing what I was getting into with the second book, I was pleased to see Fitzpatrick's Fiction Formula has not changed. That said:
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
So Nora and Patch should be hamming it up now that they're all together and stuff, but noo. In the face of some minor obstacles, their Like fizzles, and Nora spends a good fifty pages in a jealous huff while crawling out of peoples' windows and touching their stuff. (I'm guessing Patch gave her stalking lessons sometime before their breakup). Meanwhile, best-friend-Vee is suddenly dating Patch's best friend Rixon, who is Irish, even though that point was only mentioned once in the first book and was completely ignored thereafter. Mean-meanwhile, there's a new guy in town (Scott). A childhood friend-turned-bad-boy-and-possible-love-interest, Nora could be getting herself into trouble with this one! So, after the first hundred pages of plot-setting, Nora must sit down and solve the following mysteries: Why are Patch and Marcie spending so much time together? Why does Marcie hate her so much? What's up with Scott's mysterious past? Who is the Black Hand and why did he kill her father? Why does she keep seeing her father's ghost (Yeah...)? What's up with her mom and why has she been parked in a certain someone's father's driveway? (Lots of mystery, as per usual). If Nora doesn't watch out, she might find herself in grave danger! ...again.

The thing about the Becca Fitzpatrick Fiction Formula is: at first, I hate it. The first hundred pages of Hush, Hush made me cringe, and this one was no different, but somehow Fitzpatrick always manages to pull a sixth- and eleventh-hour plot twist that throws me in such a way that I am actually forced to keep reading. She has also proven herself to be an author who can be trusted to set up a helluva lot of mystery and solve it by the last page. Assuming her Formula doesn't change anytime soon, I'll be willing to trudge through the first hundred pages of the next book, no matter how predictable or tedious it may seem. Though, if Nora wakes up pregnant with a demon baby, I'll drop it off a bridge.

Characters: ooh
It's good to see that Nora's hasn't changed too much from the first book. Well, maybe good isn't the right word, but you know what I mean. She's still easily-offended and kind of neurotic, but I must say I'm impressed with how steady on her feet she is. I mean, sure she and Patch split and sure it's because she's too proud and jealous, but at least she's doing the dumping and she's standing up for her full-disclosure rights as a girlfriend, dammit! And she didn't even have to slap him like a certain kind of waify-damsel I hate...

I was very sad to see how Patch loses all his snark in this book. I guess once he's convinced Nora of his greatness, he doesn't think he needs it anymore. But I needed it. His snark is one of his few redeeming qualities! Again, I noticed how he also has stayed much the same throughout this series. Gasp! you may say. But character development is key to a good novel! While I agree that static characters are mostly boring, I also think (what? More than one opinion?) that it's unrealistic for a character's personality to drastically change just because they fall in Like or gain some Special New Powers. In real life, you are who you are no matter how much you grow up or fall in love. Shouldn't it be the same in literature?

I was so proud of Vee if only for the sole reason that she doesn't need to be saved at the end. What? A silly, funny character not getting into dumb shenanigans all the time? Oh Fitzpatrick, you revolutionary, you. In fact, Vee seems to become Nora's conscience in this book, trying to talk her out of the crazy, jealousy-driven stunts she plans. Whoa! A previously-daffy character can mature over time into a reliable friend with a moral compass? Yeah, so proud of Vee.

Relationships: ooh
Nora and Patch - Like many a second book in a series, these two are split up through most of it. While I know I was supposed to take Nora's side in this one, I couldn't help but favor Patch. I mean, let's face it: Patch is a player, and Nora should have taken that fact into account before pointing her jealous fingers all over the place.

Special Features: wow
The first books focused on Patch and the angels; this one sheds a certain light on the Nephilim (who are half-human, half-angel) and their descendents. They're kind of peeved about being possessed by angels two weeks each year, and are getting ready to fight back. (Who knew?) Sure, the Nephilim are techinically the villains of this series, but it's interesting when your villain sort of has a point. Hard to side with the good guys when you can't tell if there even are any.

Parting Quotes:
Patch leaned back against the booth and arched his eyebrows at me. The gesture said it all: Pay up.
“You got lucky,” I said.
“I’m about to
get lucky."
Why can't Patch maintain this level of snark at all times?

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