Nora Grey lived to tell the tale of how her fallen angel boyfriend Patch saved her life after plotting to kill her, and now she’s in a relationship with him. Patch has had his wings restored and is now her guardian angel, but that doesn’t mean that he can protect her from all the danger that surrounds her. There are evil forces out there that want her dead, and as Nora struggles to reconcile what she knows about her father’s death with what she’s experiencing, it might mean the end of her, or maybe the end of Nora and Patch.
Crescendo is the second novel in Becca Fitzpatrick’s series about Nora Grey and the fallen angels who want her. I read the first one after reading a bunch of really awesome critical analysis posts by other bloggers. To its credit, the book opened up a discussion about trends in YA. A lot of people were reading about rape culture (including me), learning a lot, and thinking critically about a book that they loved. I wrote a whole post about the thing, pulling from some of the great pieces other bloggers had written as well.
Let’s start with the positive things present in this novel. Although comparisons to Twilight must be made (and are often justified), Fitzpatrick is a much better writer than Stephenie Meyer, and that credit should be given to her. Both her diction and syntax are stronger than what is found in the Twilight Saga. Fitzpatrick’s ability to write dialogue and action sequences are also fairly strong. Her plotting and characterization are better as well, although perhaps only marginally. Fitzpatrick has a way of creating a mood that fits the dark story very well, and the tone is so effective that it permeates the reader’s mind.
However, there’s still the issue of Nora Grey being a boring, unsympathetic protagonist. In the first book, I worried about her attraction to Patch despite his tendency to threaten violence, rape, and death explicitly. In the sequel, I worried about the fact that Nora hasn’t learned a darned thing and is still behaving foolishly and erratically. She actively seeks out danger in order to piss Patch off, and then gets upset when he reacts accordingly. Much of the book is spent mooning over him, which wouldn’t bother me if it weren’t for the fact that Patch has no redeeming qualities. Oh, I suppose he’s attractive. It doesn’t matter that he’s a humorless douche bag as long as he’s pretty, right?
That’s the inherent problem with the character of Patch. While Fitzpatrick has stated that it’s hard for her to get into Patch’s mind, it doesn’t mean that he should be devoid of personality. Although a tad more detail is given to him in this book, it feels like too little too late. Nora loves Patch with an unflinching, unfailing blind devotion, and the reader doesn’t have any idea why. But it’s not just Patch and Nora that are poorly drawn characters in the book: virtually all of the characters seem to be missing motivations and personalities. Even Nora’s best friend Vee, who I found somewhat redeeming in the first book, feels sort of flat to me in this one.
The other major issue I had with this book was the uncomfortable attention paid to Vee’s weight and Marcie Millar’s promiscuous proclivities. Vee’s weight is mentioned all the time, and the number of fat jokes, quips about food, and Vee’s laziness seem to have increased exponentially. What is strange about this is that it doesn’t seem to serve the narrative in any real way, just as the slut-shaming aimed at arch-nemesis Marcie Millar doesn’t fit within the larger narrative, either. Nora is completely attracted to Patch on a surface level, and she makes out with Nephilim bad-boy Scott just to piss off Patch, but Marcie’s tendency to wear revealing clothing and hit on boys makes her the biggest bad girl? Even the use of the words “slut” and “whore” grated on me in this book, because instead of feeling like I was bonding with Nora and Vee while they were bashing Marcie, I found myself sympathetic to the girl we’re supposed to hate.
Fans of the first book will find themselves divided over this second installment. The novel’s pacing is pretty good, and the continuity of the characters (with the possible exception of Nora) is fairly good. The book’s ending hands readers a nice little cliff-hanger, and there’s a promise of delving into some of the mythology in the next book, which would be a welcome change to all the ridiculous relationship melodrama that clogs up this tome.
That cover’s pretty gorgeous, though.