Monday, December 13, 2010

Crescendo or Flat Tone?

Crescendo (Hush, Hush)
I really liked Becca Fitzpatrick's first novel, Hush, Hush. I read it cover to cover during my Christmas break last year, and was looking forward to the sequel, Crescendo. Sequels have a funny lot in life though. They are plagued by the opinions on the original book, are derivative by pure nature, and expected still to take a stand of its own and wow the reader into continuing the series. The sad sequel is just like the middle child- never first and never final. It is just a bridge between the two most important parts of a trilogy. So did Crescendo elevate Hush, Hush or disgrace the series?

We last left Nora Grey and Patch in a strange and forbidden relationship. Nora is the descendant of Patch's Nephilim- the child of a fallen angel- and as a fallen angel himself, Patch must kill the vassal or child of Nephilim in order to gain a human body. Instead he fell in love with Norah and not only didn't kill Nora himself, but protected her from another who was trying to do her in- Chauncey. Now Patch has been elevated to a guardian angels for his selfless act and is forbidden to love Nora, something he and Nora can't bear to admit.

The Nephilim are back and in rare form. They are creating a Blood society whose sole purpose is to keep the fallen angels from taking over their bodies during Cheshvan. Cheshvan is the only time fallen angels are allowed to feel and experience human thoughts and emotions, but it requires them to possess the body of their Nephilim for two weeks. Obviously, this doesn't make the Nephilim- a mean, super strong, immortal group of thugs- very happy. Now Nora is in their cross-hairs as Chauncey was once the leader of the Blood society and they are eager to exact their revenge.

As her guardian angel, Patch should be able to protect her, but when Nora sees him spending time with Marcie, her sworn childhood enemy, she breaks up with him and fires him as her guardian angel. When a guy she knew as a child returns to town (who is also Nephilim) she is oddly drawn to him despite her instinct that something is up with him. Can Nora survive the strange visions, the crazy Nephilim, the sneaky fallen angels, and the elementary school bullies?

As a sequel, this book doesn't surprise me. It's good, but not great. It's interesting but not thrilling. It is the perfect middle child in an eventual trilogy. If a student liked the first book, they might like this second one, but my guess is it might be a bit too stretched out with the meat of the story unceremoniously stuffed into the final 50 pages. I know the first bookw as written similarly, but you would think that by the second book with the characters finally having almost all the information about Angels and Nephilim that the story would be more involved than the first story. Unfortunately, it isn't. I liked the story fine enough, but I have to say I wasn't wowed. I probably wouldn't suggest it for a struggling student unless they had been flattened by the first book and needed more. If they felt lukewarm towards the first book, I certainly wouldn't encourage them to read the second installment. I am interested to see where the third book will go, but I hope Fitzpatrick ups the ante!

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