The smaller the town, the bigger the secrets.
This is the line that appears on the cover of Lisa McMann's standalone title, Cryer's Cross (great name by the way). This small town has a secret that’s both big and horrifying. In the book, kids start disappearing, and there's a desk with strange graffiti, haunting messages etched into the wood like "Save me" and "I need you." Then there's seventeen-year-old Kendall Fletcher whose OCD mind helps her link the two things together.
Honestly, I don't usually read books like this. The plot reminds me of a scary movie--a good scary movie--but that just isn't my cup of tea. Still, I'm a huge fan of Lisa McMann's sparse writing. It's amazing to me how much emotional impact she can evoke with just a few words. Kendall was intriguing, what with her dreams of going to Julliard though she's never taken an actual dance class and her morning rituals (she has to rearrange the desks, markers, curtains, put everything just so before the other students start arriving). If she doesn't complete them, she feels off the rest of the day.
Another thing I like about McMann is her take on teen relationships. I enjoyed getting to see Jacian, a newcomer to Cryer's with a chip on his shoulder, and Kendall get to know each other. It doesn't always have to be love at first sight, and I think in real life it hardly ever is, so I appreciated the slow build. The answer to the mystery itself was fitting and appropriately disturbing, but, to be totally honest, I felt like I'd read/seen/heard it somewhere before.
Cryer's was a good, quick, suspenseful read, but I'd recommend McMann's Wake Trilogy. It has way more grit and the same direct writing, and the characters (Janie and Cabel) are far more developed. The feel of those books, the originality of concept and character, makes them worth reading, again and again (Warning: Janie's gift isn't a superpower. It has real consequences--which was one of the many reasons this story was so different and so great). If you haven't picked them up already, you'll want to get on it before everyone else under the sun starts coming out with dream catcher YA novels.
Oh, they already have?
Well, here's what I say to that: The best is often imitated, never duplicated. McMann's Wake, Fade, and Gone. They're not all butterflies and candy hearts, but they are standouts in a crowded paranormal YA field. In short, Ninja Girl Reads firmly endorses these books, and if you haven't read them…well, you should J
Have a great one,