Lost in a YA wasteland of characters that all think and act alike, where the bad boy is ultimately good and the girl is pining after some unrequited love...there is this book.
Ok, first, the cover. How beautiful/crazy looking is that? While it may not have the characters or the setting on it, it is still wonderful to look at. It's great. Not every cover needs to have the almost kissing couple. Not everything needs the heroine with the guns/swords/random weapons standing dramatically against a fiery background. This cover's simplicity works, especially when considering the madness contained within.
Cracked by Eliza Crewe is a breath of fresh air, to say the least. Meda is delightfully twisted. She has depth that you wouldn't expect from someone so bloodthirsty but she has reasons for being the way that she is. She eats souls and she has to kill to feed. The ghosts of the past come to her and beg her for help and she is usually more than happy to oblige. Until one night, Meda finds out that she isn't the only big bad and scary to go bump in the night.
“Samson's tapping feet come closer, but again he pauses and knocks on a door. I don't mind. The pauses make it better. They make me wonder whether he's going to come to me, like the anticipation before a kiss. Will he or won't he?
But this is not a love story.”
Chi, Jo, and Uriel come to her rescue and they believe her lies about not really knowing what is going on. They take her to exactly where she shouldn't be, an academy filled with people who are trying to rid the world of evil like her. Meda has to hide her true self but that's becoming more and more difficult with the ever observant Jo watching her like a hawk.
Meda learns more and more about her past and what she finds out is shocking. She has to make choices and struggles to know if she is making the right ones.
It's paranormal without the vampires and werewolves. It's creepy and scary without things jumping out of closets. The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are really good and then there's Meda trapped in the middle. There is so much more to this than the YA label gives it credit for.
The amazing part about this book is that...hell, everything was amazing. But the point I was going for is that it isn't just a one trick pony. This is a book you can read again and again and still get something from it every time. This is the book that is breaking the mold of the YA genre because it is complex enough to give it life but streamlined to the point where you aren't dragging on with meaningless prose. And it's funny.
“I'm pretty sure Jo couldn't talk about the weather without somehow including a threat. Forecast today: cloudy with a chance I'll kick your ass.”
I was laughing out loud reading this. Jo and Meda's relationship is built out of sandpaper and they annoy each other perfectly. They are the friends that never wanted to be friends in the first place but circumstances push them together and they realize that their particular brand of sarcasm and hating each other work well together.
Chi is an interesting character as well. He is loved by all and everybody worships at his feet as the best and brightest. But his focus isn't on everybody else and I think he is one of the few genuine good guys in YA that you end up liking. He is not perfect but Chi is the foil to all of Jo's prickliness.
Then there's Uriel. Oh my goodness, Uriel. I want to pack him up in a little box and take him home with me like a puppy. He has a bit of a hero worship problem but he is just too sweet to be left behind and has good intentions.
Character growth in this book isn't one dimensional. Sometimes (often), with YA books, only the main character learns something from their actions. Their choices either affect their family or the whole effing universe with nothing in between. But all of their relationships and friends are just background noise to their awesomeness in those books. They are the supporting cast and love interests and that's it. The other characters in this book have purpose and grow as well. Chi learns that he isn't all that he is made out to be and has to rely on someone else for a change. Jo has to smooth her quills down and accept the things that she cannot change. Uriel comes to find that hero's can fall and aren't perfect. Their relationships between each other that have been there for years only grow stronger throughout the book and while they may not make the best decisions, they support each other well.
It's good to have a friend that will back up all of your stupid mistakes while calling you an idiot in the process.
Cracked also made me cry. It's such an interesting mix of bloodbath, fighting, sarcasm, helplessness, and heart wrenching sadness. It has a great balance and is one of the few YA books that I can say that wasn't just sad for the sake of being sad. There is purpose behind everything and it is well composed and thought out.
Just go get this book. Do it. Right now. It's worth it. I could sing its praises all day long and not be done with it. I will willingly break my heart over and over every time I read this book, just so I can have the experience of reading it again.