Everything feels off—especially me. I’ve returned to Katmere Academy, but I’m haunted by fragments of days I have no recollection of living and struggling to understand who, or what, I really am.
Just when I start to feel safe again, Hudson is back with a vengeance. He insists there are secrets I don’t know about, threatening to drive a wedge between Jaxon and me forever. But far worse enemies are at our doorstep.
The Circle is caught in a power play and the Vampire Court is trying to drag me out of my world and into theirs. The only thing Hudson and Jaxon agree on is that leaving Katmere would mean my certain death.
And not only am I fighting for my life, but now everyone else’s is at stake—unless we can defeat an unspeakable evil. All I know is that saving the people I love is going to require sacrifice.
I’ll start with the positive. Even though the timeline is once again unnecessarily short, but a lot more happens in Crush than it did in Crave. The absolute best part this time around was Hudson’s running commentary in Grace’s mind adding levity and character to the narrative. Sure, there were still plenty of annoying broody “I can’t tell you because this whole series is built on keeping secrets from each other to create drama and invent a story out of nothing” moments, but most of the time Hudson is funny, sarcastic, and witty. If you had to have someone stuck in your head, he’s a pretty solid option.
I appreciate that when adding new characters, particularly for romantic competition, Wolff doesn’t trash the old ones. Some authors (particularly those of certain popular fae series) choose to pretend their characters have no established history and change their personality to favour the new love interest. Now that Hudson is in the picture, Jaxon doesn’t become a different, weaker person. In fact, he improves quite a bit from Crush – he’s relaxed a little bit and isn’t trying to scare everyone else away anymore. While this change does introduce some new aspects in the relationship that are slightly problematic, they have more to do with the fact that Grace has been frozen in time for four months and feels like she only just met Jaxon while he’s had four months to plan their future together. It’s not Wolff’s fault that because Hudson is more charismatic and fun, he’s more appealing than Jaxon’s staid overprotectiveness.
Sorry, but I think that’s all of the positive.
Grace couldn’t seem to decide if she remembered being frozen in stone for four months or not. At first, she seems to feel like no time has passed, but she still managed to miss Jaxon and Macy? Unfortunately, you don’t get both.
Poor Macy – being Grace’s cousin has signed her up for some shitty luck. She’s a much better person than I would ever be – always willing to help no matter how dangerous or unlikely the situation. Grace is lucky to have her, though her father Finn is a pretty useless uncle. How many dangerous situations was he aware of that Grace and her friends put themselves through? It’s a freaking paranormal school – needing strange, powerful items for spells must be common; why was the elaborate setup necessary in this case? That may be my biggest problem with this series so far; simple problems with complicated solutions.
Grace’s fake ‘wokeness’ drives me crazy. She tacks comments on to the end of all her thoughts to make them more politically correct. We have to suffer through a whole paragraph about how much she loves Jaxon, for example, for her to end the thought with something along the lines of “but I don’t want to be saved because I’m a girl and I can save myself“. It never rings true and comes off as a self-correction rather than an actual belief.
Almost 1300 pages into this series and I still have virtually no idea how this world works. For example, I’m confused about how aging works: Jaxon is hundreds of years old and a teenager? And so many questions about the mating bond. It transcends species and must apply to humans since no one knew Grace was a gargoyle, but they accepted her mating bond with Jaxon. And according to Flint, it only snaps into place if both parties acknowledge it? Or is it only if both parties have accepted their sexuality? And if something happens to your mate, you can have another bond with someone else? Anything to do with the mating bond seems to be made up in the moment as a convenient plot device with limited structure (like everything else that happens in this series). Despite how long these books are, details and explanations are scant. The incredibly short chapters create a heightened sense of suspense out of thin air but don’t provide much information.
This series is already fighting so many Twilight similarities (with the soft erotica – convenient for a YA novel that no one has actually had sex yet – and the vampires/werewolves), but the introduction of this strange sport invites Harry Potter comparisons. As a complicated, more violent quidditch, it felt clunky and unnecessary. I’m sure almost any other trial would have been more relevant, especially when trying to join a ruling body of paranormals. In a series of dumb plot choices, this one is high on the list.
I’ll end on one more positive. Even though it’s predictable and incredibly cheesy, the last sentence is probably one of my favourite final sentences in recent memory. I’ve included it below, along with some context for anyone who may have forgotten.
But thinking about the war will wait…at least a few more days. Because as Jaxon reaches down to help Grace from the hole I created for her, he wraps his arms around her and presses her body to his. And I begin to see red, even before he leans down to kiss her, and every ounce of chill—and emotional self-preservation—I have goes out the fucking window.
My hands curl into fists, my fangs explode in my mouth, and though there were a million other ways I was hoping to break my newfound knowledge to Grace, the words come out before I can even think about stopping them.
“Jaxon, if you wouldn’t mind, take your fucking hands off my mate.”