Cryer's Cross Review -- Lisa McMann

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.

If I could only use one word to describe this book (whether it be short, long, medium, descriptive, simple, or in-between), it'd simply be terrifying. Don't tell me you haven't gotten the horror vibes from this book! How creepy would it be to walk into school and find etchings like TOUCH ME , ONLY YOU CAN SAVE ME , and SAVE MY SOUL inscribed into your desk? I don't know about you, but I'd be absolutely, mind-blowingly horrified.

That's the feeling this book gives off. The horror aspect of the novel is illustrated gorgeously in your head. You feel like you can't turn pages fast enough to just get to the frickin' end and SEE WHAT HAPPENS ALREADY. The challenges OCD presents to Kendall and her friends is valid (other reviews have said it's completely falsified and shallow), but I know otherwise, because, for one, McMann's daughter has it, and I don't know an easier way to figure out how OCD works than to go to your daughter; and, for two, I have a mild, self-prescribed case of it as well. I mean, I don't have to face all of the difficult challenges Kendall does (uh, hence the "mild" part), nor do I feel trapped by it, but by all means I know what it's like to struggle with it.

One thing about CRYER'S CROSS that makes me really happy (especially considering this is a horror novel, and I can point to specific horror novels that don't do this, or don't do it well) is how resolved the story is. I know exactly where the horrific aspect of the novel comes from, and I know what happens to the cause, which deeply satisfies me, more than an open-ended version would. I like knowing what/who/where did this, and I like how it's not left for me to try and make an informed decision about, left with a million branches, and I have to find the right one. I don't like when authors do this because the story feels horribly gypped and like the author didn't know enough about his/her own story to create a coherent ending. That being said, McMann didn't totally overcrowd our heads with information about the conclusion, just gave us enough info to where we're satisfied but there's still a little bit of an open ending as to what happened to the characters and the horror aspect.

McMann is an extremely versatile author, being able to go from YA fantasy (THE UNWANTEDS, coming Sept '11) to this. I just now put her on the non-existent list of i-will-buy-anything-this-author-writes (which, you know, I really should make a shelf for).

CRYER'S CROSS is a gripping tale with a perfect resolution that I couldn't get out of my head for days . . . fantastic and horrifying!

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