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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cracked by K.M Walton

Sometimes there's no easy way out. 
Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital. 
Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn't stop Bull's grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun. 
When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there's no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….

 I am something of a contemporary nerd. A total contemporary nerd. There, I said it, I have outed myself -- contemporary YA is my favorite genre and I love contemp books. So I had wanted to read Cracked for a long time, since the cover and synopsis were released. 

My issues with the book were larger than I'd hoped they would be but I still enjoyed the novel. 

Bull and Victor hate each other. This is not some kind of low hate, like hating pepperoni or sausage on your pizza or hating a particular band or TV show, but true hate . Bull has bullied Victor all throughout school, and Victor fantasizes about hurting and killing him in his head, while Bull simply thinks Victor is annoying -- and takes the pain out on him. They both have troubling home lives, with Victor living with parents who ignore him in pursuit of their own happiness and Bull living with an abusive mother and grandfather. After two incidents in which Victor attempts to kill himself and Bull attempts to kill his grandfather, the two are sent to the same psych ward and end up in the same room together, and need to work out their problems with each other. 

The plot was fairly good, though more romance heavy than I'd expected. The plot moves at a fairly quick pace and events happen quickly. The pace is a bit overwhelming with how fast the events move, since Bull and Victor are only in the psych ward for five days. Though the pacing was fast, the events were interesting, flowed well, and made sense, and for a while the plot seemed very interesting and unique. But as I reached the end, the plot started to unravel. The book became a lot more romance based as the story went on, and while this isn't a bad thing it seemed to come out of nowhere, and all of a sudden the romance was becoming a lot bigger. Both Bull and Victor fall in love and startromantic relationships by the end of the novel. The romance was sweet but could be verging on the edges of insta-love, as the characters had known each other for very few days in the psych ward before falling in love. However, I understand that in situations like the ones the characters were in people tend to grow together faster, so that's fine. The other issue I had with the plot was that it ended up way too neatly. I was glad that the characters ended up in a happy place and were able to recover from their issues, but it seemed unlikely to have everything suddenly become sunshine and rainbows. (This part is a spoiler for the book.) Victor's nana moves in with him to stand up for him, he starts a relationship with Patty and is happy; Bull gets to live with Frank the cemetary guy and his grandfather dies and everything is perfect. It seemed very unlikely for everything to just end up being absolutely perfect, with no issues at all. The plot was good but seemed to end up too perfect and the focus on the romance seemed a bit much. 

The characters seemed to be the strongest point of the book. Bull and Victor were both very relatable and good characters. It did seem a bit cliche for them to both have such serious problems; that seemed almost like a setup for the book. However, Walton made both her characters very sympathethic and interesting. I cared for both Bull and Victor, understanding their issues and problems. One issue I had with the characters was their relationships. I didn't really understand Victor's relationship with Nikole. They shared a close friendship and maybe love, but grew apart from each other and distanced by the end of the book. Bull and Victor's relationship with each other at the end was also confusing; they had grown closer but at the same time drifted apart, and didn't seem to have strengthened as much as I thought they would. 

Walton is a strong writer, and she writes male perspectives very well. Both Bull and Victor had strong voices that were different from each other and sounded like teenage boys. Her writing was very fluid and fresh and she handled teen dialogue and expressions very well. She's a strong writer and someone to watch. 

Cracked was a strong novel but didn't quite make it up to my expectations. If you like contemporary YA or "edgier" books, as well as books set in mental instuitions and dealing with mental issues, this would be a good book to try. 

Three point five stars. 

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