A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
It's always interesting for fantasy fans to see variations on vampire and shapeshifter lore and how the rules of magic are applied. Less known is gargoyle lore, which starts to emerge in this installment.
Trusting in yourself and others, bravery, sacrifice, dealing with loss, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Grace grapples with a new identity here, as a gargoyle, and with the powers she has. She's less willing to be timid or reliant on others and learns to trust her own instincts. She's surrounded by men who are used to wielding a lot of power and taking care of others and holds her own. Conversely, she engages in many petty arguments with the boy stuck sharing her body that negatively impact the relationships she has with her boyfriend and others. You'll find some racial diversity in the minor characters, and one of Grace's friends comes out to her as gay.
Violence & Scariness
Brutal fights among supernatural creatures where one high school student dies from a crushed skull and others are gravely injured and given magical boosts to heal. Students are stabbed, beaten, nearly strangled, drained of blood, burned, buried alive, and put through trials that include terrible pain. The main character wakes up covered in blood that isn't hers after being possessed. Two brothers recall being separated and physically and emotionally abused by their parents. Talk of many deaths at school a year before. Mentions of loss of main character's parents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing and rolling around on a bed and much innuendo, especially in the chapter headings.
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Lots of "f--k." Sprinklings of the rest: "s--t," "damn," "bitch," "douches," "ass," "bastard," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Many gatherings to eat junk food including Pop Tarts, Twizzlers, Dr. Pepper, Oreos, M&Ms, and Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream. Jaxon gets Grace a new iPhone. Mentions of the 1990s cartoon Gargoyles.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Crush is the second book in a series that will remind you very much of Twilight. This one will even remind you of the second Twilight book, New Moon, because of the introduction of a love triangle. Here, though, two hot vampire brothers vie for Grace's attention -- one of whom is trapped in her head, is possibly evil, and bickers with her constantly. The sexual content is milder -- kissing is less fun when your brother is always watching -- while violence is about at the same level as Book 1. There are brutal fights among supernatural creatures where one high school student dies from a crushed skull and others are gravely injured and given magical boosts to heal. Students are stabbed, beaten, nearly strangled, drained of blood, burned, buried alive, and put through trials that include terrible pain. Two brothers recall being separated and physically and emotionally abused by their parents. Lots of brand-name junk food gets eaten and language is pretty raw, with lots of "f--k" and plenty of everything else. You'll find some racial diversity in the minor characters, and one of Grace's friends comes out to her as gay. Grace is more of a force in Crush as she grapples with her new identity as a paranormal and her newfound power. She makes a better hero in this book, but she's also prone to lots of petty arguing.
Is It Any Good?
Readers unbothered by less-than-polished storytelling who like a bit of melodrama spicing up their romantic-fantasy soup will enjoy this sequel full of young, powerful, and troubled paranormals. Katmere Academy trains witches, werewolves, vampires, and dragons, and now they have their first gargoyle with Grace, the main character. When Grace wakes up and figures out what she is, here's where Crush could have taken the standard "origin story" turn and told us all what the heck this means. It doesn't, which is part of the reason why this sequel doesn't satisfy as it should. Instead author Tracy Wolff spends oodles of time on bickering matches between Grace and Hudson, the scary-seeming vampire stuck in her head. He's mean, he's nice again, he helps her survive, then he ignores her, and the whole time Grace is ignoring her boyfriend, Jaxon. Brooding, intriguing Jaxon from Crave is a major reason readers will show up for Book 2, and here he's mostly just whiny as he waits for Grace's attention.
The last third of Crush is full of action and takes us out of Grace's overstuffed head and relationship woes just enough with some dramatic twists and turns. Grace, finally the hero of her own story, has to go it alone in a trial against paranormals who all want to kill her. The trial in a stadium in front of the whole school goes on and on for chapters (you get the sense that Wolff doesn't know how far 10 yards is on a playing field) and could have been cut way back. But melodrama fans are rewarded if they make it to the very end with quite the cliffhanger.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.