May 17, 2012

Review: Cryer's Cross

By: Lisa McMann
Published: February 2011 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardback, 233 pages
First Reviewed: June 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

The smaller the town, the bigger the secrets.

Kendall loves her life in small town Cryer's Cross, Montana, but she also longs for something more. She knows the chances of going to school in New York are small, but she's not the type to give up easily. Even though it will mean leaving Nico, the world's sweetest boyfriend, behind.
But when Cryer's Cross is rocked by unspeakable tragedy, Kendall shoves her dreams aside and focuses on just one goal: help find her missing friends. Even if it means spending time with the one boy she shouldn't get close to... the one boy who makes her question everything she feels for Nico.
Determined to help and to stay true to the boy she's always loved, Kendall keeps up the search—and stumbles upon some frightening local history. She knows she can't stop digging, but Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried....

Rating: 2/5

This book is actually my third by McMann. I read Wake and Fade a few years ago, but I don't remember how I liked those, so I started this with no high expectations. Except to be intrigued and creeped out by the mystery. But, sadly, this was a case of "Misleading Description and Tagline." Ugh.

Dear Publishers,
Please stop misleading your readers. If you write a description like this, and talk about how the town is hiding one giant secret, then make sure the book lives up to that mysterious feel. Otherwise, you'll get something like this, which just didn't work.

What I liked about McMann's style was the little "We" bits in between some of the chapters. I thought those were pretty interesting and their tone was almost like a whisper. I also liked her simple style in some areas. She didn't over-describe anything or go crazy with prose. But that also ended up being something that bothered me as well.

I just couldn't get into her writing, first off, but once I did, it just felt disconnected and like I was never in Kendall's head. Sure, she has OCD, but just telling me what she does won't make me feel for her. Where were the racing thoughts behind it? For example, she'd often say something like "Kendall's OCD kicks in," but we would never feel it. As someone with OCD, I expected that. The narrative was just too tell-y for me. And the dialogue? Sometimes it was forced. If Kendall's parents know how she struggles with OCD, would they really talk about it like "My OCD is going nuts"? It just didn't feel realistic.

Sigh. There were just way too many elements to Kendall. Way, way too many. She has OCD, she's supposedly smart, she dances (I don't know when or where...but she wants to go to college for it), she does theater and sings, she plays soccer, she works on the farm, and so on. There was just too much to the point where I didn't care about her. I was too busy trying to figure out what she actually loves to do. Sure, people have a lot of hobbies and those with OCD need to keep busy, but it completely distracted from her actual character. With the OCD, I've already mentioned how I never felt the OCD, but also, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel sorry for her or not. The way she carried herself the majority of the time was strong-spoken character (she cursed, she spoke her mind, for example), but then the narrative made me believe that she was shy and embarrassed. Yeah, people can be both, but it was just too much of a contrast. She'd speak, and I'd be confused to whether or not that was the same character.

As for the rest of the characters, blah. They were just kind of there. I never felt connected to them. Jacian's personality was probably the most developed out of all the cast, though I didn't care for him once he started showing his feelings for Kendall, and Marlena was too, but I was just bored with them. No characters were interesting, intriguing, mysterious, or anything. They were just there. I didn't dislike any of the characters, but I just felt the characterization as a whole was weak. Too much went into Kendall and not enough into everyone else.

This plot was boring. That's pretty much it. I expected to love a book with this type of premise. I mean, if y'all know me, you know I love things that are creepy. I love, love, love ghosts and anything haunted. The overall premise had so much potential, but nothing happened. Seriously. I remember getting halfway through the book and wondering why nothing had happened yet. Since this is a very short read, that was the first warning sign for me. There were only small--very small--elements of intrigue placed in random chapters, but the majority of this book was spent on Kendall moping around after her best friend goes missing and then finding an attraction to newcomer in town, Jacian. Once the actual "frightening" part happens, the book is almost over.

It's not much of a spoiler (the description has more creepiness than the book), but the "local history secret" is crappy. Sounds rude, I know, but it's the truth. Okay, maybe not crappy, but the way it was displayed was crappy. The small amount of foreshadow we get isn't even mysterious until the end, and even then, it just made me realize how weak it was when it had been mentioned. Instead of me being invested in the haunted desk and the buried secrets, I was bust being bored with Kendall and Jacian and not caring at all about the missing kids.

Other random thoughts: If you're wanting to dance for Jilliard, and your parents are supportive, then why aren't you in some kind of dance class? Surely your parents would let you drive once a week to a class in the nearest town if it meant you could follow your dreams. Surely if you're a musical theater geek (like I totally was in high school...), you'd do more than make up a few plays when you were younger and dream about Broadway one time. Surely you'd practice monologues all the time, and sing all the time. Surely if you played soccer and danced, you'd be sure to be a little more careful not to injure yourself if you want to go to college for dance. Surely if you were OCD, you'd do more than just do things, you'd have racing thoughts and literally be bothered all day instead of just thinking you will be and then aren't at all. And surely if you're a senior, you wouldn't wait until the winter to apply for schools where you have to audition to dance. Those auditions take place junior year and fall senior year for the majority of schools. Can y'all tell I had major problems with Kendall's hobbies and traits?

Okay, maybe I didn't say many positive things about this book, so I'll say them now. I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't like it either. It did keep me reading and I liked the overall premise and idea. McMann, even though her writing bothered me, is good with creating full stories within little bits of time. But, this just wasn't for me, and I'm extremely disappointed that it didn't live up to the description.

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