Cracked, by Eliza Crewe

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Author’s website | Publisher’s website
Publication date – November 5, 2013

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Ever since my mom was murdered, I’ve been completely alone. I live in the shadows, because there’s no one like me. I have no choice because I have to fight the Hunger, the Hunger that drives me to hunt people and eat their souls. And I have to fight it if I want to stay out of the darkness.

Who am I?
I’m Meda Melange.
What am I?
I don’t know—but I’m not human.
And now, I finally have the chance to find out.

In this first book of the gripping Soul Eater trilogy, find out who Meda is and which side she will come down on in a thrilling tale of the war between good and evil.

Thoughts: Meda is a soul-sucker, a half-demon who feeds on the life energy of others, and someone who ends up tangled up with Templars, people who have made it their mission to hunt down and destroy people just like her. As she struggles to keep her true identity a secret, her association with the Templars yields information about her mostly-unknown heritage, why she is who she is, and why there seems to be a never-ending horde of demons out to get her.

Cracked turned out to be one of those rare YA novels that not only meets my expectations but actually surpasses them. It was a great read, fast-paced and interesting. Meda’s narrative voice was really what made this book work so very well. She’s an abrasive, snarky, witty, observant teenager, and we get full access to her sarcastic thoughts and internal commentary, with the narrative describing not just what’s happening around the characters but also what’s going on inside Meda’s head without it being limited to simple introspection and attempts to understand an event or person. Sometimes the best parts of Meda’s thoughts consisted of nothing but frustrated snarking of the people around her.

Of course, the downside to this is Meda’s lack of internal censor. Very realistic in that people often think things they were never ever say, but also a bit painful in her unfiltered commentary on Jo’s disability, often referring to her early on as “the cripple.” She does this less and less as the story develops and she gets to know Jo more, but the knee-jerk reactionary judgment is a bit uncomfortable to read at times.

The story proceeds at a very fast pace, starting off a bare moment before the action starts and not letting up for very long. During the less action-heavy points of the novel, the text is filled with interesting character development, fleshing out some interesting characters concepts and really making you feel for the people you’re reading about. This is worthy of praise on its own, since slower character-development scenes aren’t always handled well enough to keep a reader interested if they prefer more action in their books, but I’d say it was done pretty well here, and too good effect toward the end of the book as you realize that nobody is invulnerable. Your heartstrings get tugged at the same time as Meda’s, and I have to say that it’s uncommon for a YA novel to make me feel sad at character death now. This jaded heart hasn’t completely turned to stone yet.

Interestingly, there is no romantic interest for Meda in this novel. You expect that it will follow the standard YA formula and that despite opposition, Meda and Chi will hook up by the end. But no, Meda spends part of her time trying to convince both Jo and Chi that the other is actually interested in them. I was deeply impressed by this, since the vast majority of YA novels involve a romantic subplot with the protagonist. Crewe was clearly unafraid of breaking the mold, and the effect was a stranger story that emphasized Meda’s priorities and showed that a good story doesn’t need romance to keep people turning pages.

I’m very interested to see where Crewe will take this story in future installments, and you can be sure that I’ll be making a point of reading them. This was a wonderful example of the kind of intelligent story and witty narrative that suits this genre so well. Crewe’s skill shines brightly, especially in dialogue and observation, and this book will consume your soul just like Meda herself. (Only with less violence and gore. Thankfully.) Don’t pass this one over; it’s well worth it.

(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)

8 comments on “Cracked, by Eliza Crewe

  1. I also loved the romance element or lack thereof! It was cute seeing two side characters get together instead of a love triangle or Meda getting a personality transplant ;-) Also… Uri!

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