(This review might be especially appropriate for those who have already read this book or Hush, Hush; some of my frustration may not make complete sense otherwise. If you want to skip my personal complaints and just scroll to the bottom line, be my guest.)
What a great cover, isn't it?
A few days back, instead of delving into my Oceanography book, I read "Crescendo" because it was staring me in the face at the library. All I could hear in my mind was "Go on, read it. It's right there. Think of all those great reviews of Hush, Hush. Think of how relaxing it'll be to read something that's NOT about picoplankton or the photic zone."
So I grabbed it and ended up checking it out, and MAN was it a page turner! I couldn't stop. I had to finish it before I could study for my exam. Obviously it really got to me. I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to know more about how the angel stuff worked and about the characters. Given that I hadn't read Hush, Hush I'm sure there are things that didn't quite click while I was reading, but for the most part I understood what was happening. The characters were pretty well defined, and Nora's voice especially was very strongly her own. There weren't any moments where I was like "This doesn't make sense for HER to do." I loved the exchanges between Nora and Vee, especially during their "detective" work; sometimes it almost reminded me of the antics of Lula and Stephanie from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. A lot of the imagery really struck me. There was one scene, if I'm remembering correctly, where the lights were going on and off as Nora was pursuing someone (or maybe it was vice versa). Whatever it was, I remember it working really well, helping me see it all more clearly in my mind. Some really great fight scenes. And the kissing scenes between Patch and Nora? Very hot. The last couple paragraphs of the book even threw me for a loop!
Okay, so maybe I didn't have moments where I thought Nora's actions didn't make sense for her...but there were plenty where I thought they didn't make sense. And maybe I didn't have a ton of trouble understanding the story, but I sure had some questions. My biggest question throughout the book seemed to be, "WHY can't she just ASK him?!"
But it was soon clear to me that Nora is incapable of truly asking anyone anything, especially not male characters. She instead has to follow them, search their houses, go through their rooms, or ask everyone else about them. Sure, it made the story more exciting and it certainly made for more suspenseful scenes, but it made it challenging for me to suspend my disbelief because before the scene even began I was thinking "What? Why does she have to follow him in her car?" or "Why is she searching his apartment?!"
The other part of the story that made me REALLY frustrated was her relationship with Patch, or more specifically, her confusion and distrust where he was concerned. Every time they fought, it seemed to me that a great deal of the angry words or final decisions were declared by Nora, and yet immediately after she would behave as though all of it were Patch's fault. For those of you who haven't read "Crescendo" yet, Nora breaks up with Patch not long into the book because of an inconvenience that has to do with nosy, meddling archangels who have it in for Patch (to find out why you'll just have to read the books) as well as some odd events surrounding Nora's arch-nemesis, Marcie Millar. I could certainly understand Nora's anger where Marcie and Patch were concerned; that would have bothered me to death if it were my guardian/boyfriend. But Nora almost breaks up with Patch instantly once he tells her that the archangels are watching (and why).
Once I got to this point in the book, I almost shut it because I was having "New Moon" deja vu. I couldn't STAND the book New Moon. I'm ashamed to admit that I skipped through almost the entire second half. (I liked the movie, though. Good fight scenes in Italy.)
At another point, Nora yells out that Patch is no longer to be her guardian angel, and doesn't seem to understand it when this actually becomes the case. She was so quick to be cruel to Patch at times.
In a way, I can understand. We all have moments where we're angry, we want to hurt feelings, and we say things we just don't mean. But he kept coming back. She almost took his protection for granted (maybe that's what you're supposed to do with guardian angel's anyway?) and she'd deliberately throw herself into dangerous situations either to SEE Patch or to show him she was okay on her own...and of course, she usually wasn't. This aspect of the book was a little reminiscent of New Moon as well, but I do think that Nora is a little more proactive as a character than Bella Swan is. Her voice was still entertaining, even when she was whining or venting out anger. I didn't skip through any huge chunks of pages with this book, which to me indicates relatively good writing (either that or I've become a more patient person). Point being, Nora Grey is a frustrating character, but not to the point where I had to slam the book shut.
Still, all the stuff with Patch bothered me. If he didn't care for Nora, why would he keep coming back? Why couldn't she figure that out? After all he did for her in the first book (er, after all I gather that he did), why would she think he'd just turn around like that? Why would he keep pressing, keep trying to tell her what was going on, etc. For a large part of the book, Nora thinks Patch has killed her father. This was a little hard to swallow, especially when they were like totally making out.
Basically, my problems with Nora and her Patch stuff all came to the surface in one scene, when Patch visits Nora in a dream and says he's been trying to tell her the truth in a place where the archangels can't see...and Nora leaves. Nora is DYING to know the truth, but she leaves because she thinks Patch is the killer. Even though she's still, of course, unbelievably attracted to him.
Why wouldn't she stay and hear what he had to say? If she's so determined to figure everything out, why not at LEAST listen to Patch's side of the story and THEN leave? What Nora does instead is frustrating as all hell. Just thinking about these parts of the book make me want to wring her neck, make me think "what a STUPID main character." But she didn't strike me as a completely stupid person....just extremely mixed up.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
So the conundrum for me is, how did I manage to get through this book, like it, and still think the main character's teetering on the edges of ridiculous and idiotic? As annoying as Nora's odd decision-making could be, I couldn't stop reading this book, so I do care for her a little (or maybe I was looking for hot Angel sex?).
Another thing about this book...sometimes I can really tell when the writer was really into scenes and having fun writing them, and when she/he wasn't so interested. I know that even in my own work, this comes through, and in that respect I have a long way to go as a writer. (Maybe this is something I notice because I write, but I doubt it.) Anyway, the point is that the great thing about Crescendo is that when you're reading it, you get the sense that Becca Fitzpatrick was having loads of fun writing the whole thing. And that just makes it an even better reading experience.