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Cryer's Cross Hardcover – February 8, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-This horror/suspense offering never really gets a full shiver going, even though McMann infuses her story with a 50-year-old wooden school desk and a menacing collective of tortured souls possessing it. Even when the desk-spirits seem to explain the bizarre disappearances of two of several high school students in the tiny Montana town of Cryer's Cross, the intended creep factor intended falls short. What doesn't fall short is the solid characterization of Kendall, a senior who tries to keep control of her OCD even after Nico, her best boy-friend since infancy, goes missing. Weird carved messages show up on the desk he was using before his disappearance, and Kendall thinks she hears his voice when she sits at it. Luckily, she has the distractions of soccer, a new boy from Arizona who slowly warms up to her, and her family's potato harvest to keep her from obsessing about Nico's loss and the eerie desk-until they just become too compelling. Then she, too, faces danger from the trapped entities that inhabit the desk. The mystery of why and how the desk is possessed and urging teenagers to harm themselves is given a quick and illogical gloss over when explained. Discerning readers are unlikely to suspend disbelief, but they may find character and setting help redeem the book.-Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kendall is a senior in a one-room high school where last spring Tiffany, a freshman, disappeared. Now it is the start of a new year, and Kendall�s boyfriend, Nico�the only one who truly understood Kendall�s OCD� has gone missing, too. While compelled to straighten the desks before class one morning, Kendall discovers that Nico�s desk was also Tiffany�s desk. This seems like more than a coincidence, but Kendall is afraid that people will think she is crazy. The town�s dark past is a well-kept secret, and though she doesn�t want to admit it, Kendall will need the help of brooding newcomer Jacian if she is going to find Nico. Kendall is a unique character, and the details of her OCD compulsions are well drawn. Haunting passages from another world, which provide just enough detail to intrigue and disturb readers, are intertwined with Kendall�s story. Part mystery, part ghost story, and part romance, this book has enough to satisfy a variety of readers and will find popularity with McMann�s established fan base and new readers alike. Grades 8-12. --Shauna Yusko
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What I’ve found as typical with Lisa McMann, some sort of mental illness comes into play within the plot – in this case, OCD affecting our protagonist, Kendall. McMann’s descriptions of how this disorder affects behaviour and thought patterns is bang on, and despite this affliction, I found Kendall to be a compelling character. Growing up in a small town surrounded by boys, she’s a bit sporty, a bit country, but still a girl. She is a quite hero. Cherishing her town, her friends and her family. It is endearing.
Nico, her kind-of boyfriend is equally as endearing, and it was beautiful to read how they interacted with each other. He is so devoted to her.
The new student in Kendall’s tiny school, Jacián was a mixed bag for me: although cliché, I did end up liking him. Kendall’s narrative can lead opinion swinging from left to right. Though, upon reflection I’m not sure I was sold on their ‘ship.
I liked how the mystery is built around a missing girl, feared kidnapped and quite possibly murdered.
The story line also develops organically with a slow burn. Such a constant intriguing pace with an easy to read narrative that kept me glued to the page and I completed this novel in one sitting.
The plot is mostly predictable. I didn’t get any surprises. But the conclusion is something else. It was very satisfying and equally creepy.
I am unsure if another reader would get more of the feels from this, and while there is definitely a lot of emotion wrapped between the book covers, it did not have me tearing up, or the hair raising along my arms – though there were hints of it.
Really enjoy McMann’s stand alones much more than I do her series. And would recommend this for a cozy afternoon on the front porch.
Kendall's life runs according to routine, which helps keep her OCD tendencies in check. Her best friend/possible boyfriend Nico helps to keep her put together too, so when Nico mysteriously disappears like a girl previously did earlier in the year (this isn't a spoiler, as it happens very early on and it's entirely predictable), the town and Kendall are in a panic. One huge aspect of her life is gone, and it hurts more than Kendall could have ever imagined. But the two new students who come to town, siblings Marlena and Jacian, are a welcome distraction to her. Marlena is fiery and kind, while Jacian is slightly bitter and upset at the move. Both characters help Kendall in different ways. The storyline moves smoothly from missing Nico to Kendall adjusting with being on her own, as well as her budding relationships with Marlena and Jacian. Interspersed throughout the story are short little unusual paragraphs narrated by "WE", a mysterious entity that is revealed in the end (after a very surprising conclusion).
HIGHLIGHTS: Kendall having OCD was interesting, because it made her different from other YA characters out there. She stands out, in a good and unique way (I want more realistic protagonists like her in YA). The ending scenes were surprising, the small-town life was nicely shown, and the budding relationships were fun to watch unfold. The writing itself, while sparse, was quick and addictive to get into. T
LOWLIGHTS: I wasn't under the impression that this was a supernatural story (the book & publisher's summary I read didn't allude to that). Almost the entire book is written like a contemporary novel - an interesting and sometimes eerie contemporary novel. But the horror aspect never showed up completely until the latter half of the story, which was disappointing because I was expecting a thrilling horror. The supernatural twist also did not show up clearly until the latter half, and while it was intriguing it also seemed like a cop-out. I wish it hadn't even been included because I lost all sense of realism in the story at that point. Another issue was that while I loved Jacian's sister, Jacian himself seemed cliché and predictable.
Despite my dislike of many parts of the this story, I always recommend to read the first few chapters to see if it's for you - I may not love this book, but you might.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5*
*Rating explained: 2.5 means "It was okay, I've read worse stories, but I'd never read it again"
Most recent customer reviews
So gripping and haunting. Not the kind of book you'll soon forget. Book you can savor.
I love Lisa McMann's writing. I really do.Read more
Cryer's Cross was an eerie, fast-paced, mysterious...Read more