Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Cracked by Eliza Crewe

Note: I received this book as an e-ARC from Strange Chemistry via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Cracked by Eliza Crewe

(Soul Eater, Book 1)

Genre: YA / Fantasy / Templars vs. Demons

Release Date: November 5, 2013

The concept of humans engaged in a war with the demons is by no means new, especially since the main character, Meda, is half demon. However, what attracted me to this book was that Meda doesn't sound like the typical protagonist - she's sassy, and she eats souls. 

What I Liked:

  • Great character development
  • Well paced
  • Meda is a witty character - and snarky too
  • Jo, as a side character, has complex issues that are addressed
  • Awesome twists
What I Didn't Like:
  • Uriel is too good for this world. I saw his fate coming.
Some students from the local Templar school, a secret training ground for holy warriors, take her in after she is almost killed by a group demons for the first time. They know she is special. But they don't know she is part demon. At the same time, she is being pursued by the other demons, so she has to find out who she is and why the demons want her. 

One of my favorite things about this novel is that it's told from Meda's first-person perspective - her narration is full of sass and clever little side comments. She grew up with her human mother, who was convinced that she could be taught to control her urges to eat people's souls.

Come to think of it, she does start out as a borderline sociopath - a rather charmingly snarky one. As a result of her mother's guidance, Meda only goes after bad people - as in, people who kill others. As a halfling, she can see ghosts, who come to her for revenge or justice. They know that she can see them, but they have no idea how she kills her victims, and when they see her eat...well, they usually get out ASAP.

At the Templar school, Meda gets a brief taste of high school clique drama while her newly found acquaintances show her around. Even Templars can be snarky. 

Of Meda's group, Chi is the Templar version of a hot, blond jock (with good intentions, of course), Uriel is the embodiment of faith, but Jo is an angry character who lashes out at the people around her because of the way they coddle her for having a crippled leg. Out of everyone at the school, Jo is the only one who recognizes that Meda isn't the innocent little human that she pretends to be. They see each other as a threat, and constantly check each other.

The character development is definitely a strong point here. We get a feel for characters by the way Meda reads their body language. She's had to - she was isolated for most of her life - at least, until her mom died. She calculates their level of threat by how seeing how they react to confrontations. She is an undomesticated feline just waiting to pounce. But she learns to love her new friends, and despite her evil thoughts, she grows to be more trusting. 

The pacing is consistent throughout the first quarter of the book, but speeds up as we hit the climax and the end. There are twists that leave me feeling hurt and angry along with Meda, because they turn over certain beliefs she has clung onto for many years. This is particularly relevant to coming of age. The theme here is about confronting challenges to long-held beliefs as you grow older - some of these lead to disillusionment; others lead to self-discovery and transformation. 

Meda learns that there are more to certain people she thought she knew, and the search for answers will be dangerous.

My Rating:
This is good-versus-evil done right. 

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