Pages: 240 (hardcover)
To Be Published: February 8th, 2011 by Simon Pulse
*Book provided by Simon & Schuster Galley Grab in exchange for honest review-- thanks!*
The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him?
The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.
Cryer's Cross has the set-up, great writing and characters of a fantastic novel. I've heard a lot about Lisa McMann and her books, particularly Wake. That said, I wasn't overly impressed with the execution of that gigantic plot twist of Cryer's Cross, nor with the eerie supernatural cause behind all these creepy small-town disappearances. This is going to be a hard book to review without giving away any spoilers, but I'll just say I'm glad I don't have to break the big mystery to anybody, because I would feel like I'm kind of letting them down. This plotline has so much potential... but the driving force behind the horror would barely make a weak episode of Buffy during one of the weaker seasons. I apologize for the vagueness and will plough ahead with the review.
Okay, there's definitely a positive side to this book: we have several likable characters, including the protagonist Kendall who has lived all her life in Cryer's Cross harvesting potatoes, but dreams of attending a top-notch university and acting on the stage. She also has a pretty severe case of OCD. (I was like, 'HALLELUJAH! Me, too.') I like how Kendall's OCD comes to fixate on the disappearance of her classmate Tiffany Quinn and how it takes over her mind sometimes. Our OCDs are completely different as far as how they manifest, but I really sympathized with her over this and was glad to see a protagonist with OCD. I liked Nico, Kendall's best friend/ boyfriend and the new guys who moves to town, Jacian. I love it when guys in books aren't cliches or just there to serve as love interests, but actually have a personality and dreams of their own.
The story is told in an unusual POV: third person, present tense. I can't even remember the last time I read a book written in that point of view, but here it worked out pretty well. The novel is fast-paced and really hard to put down once you start reading-- there were a couple of times when I was just going to read for five minutes and ended up reading a hundred pages. (Oops.) And the cover of this book... it's an aerial view of a student desk. (OH! I see it now!) I swear I drove myself crazy squinting at the little icon for the e-book, trying to figure it out, when it first appeared in my library. (I'm visually challenged or something.) The cover is oddly appropriate, and oddly enough much more of a spoiler than I've given in this entire review. So in summary, Cryer's Cross is a well-written, fairly addictive novel with a cool protagonist and unusual small-town setting, and the lamest horror movie twist I've come across in a long time. The book is short enough that I still recommend it... but only if you can check it out from the library or snag it from the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab, which is awesome.
Plot: 2/5Overall Rating: 3/5