I really, really fucking hate it when a character in a book refers to a character in another book and exclaims "She's just like me!" No, beeyotch, you are not Elizabeth Bennet *snaps fingers*. No, you are not Juliet. Do you even realize how stupidly the characters in Romeo & Juliet behaved? Nuh uh. Don't you dare make that claim.
Therefore, it is with the greatest amount of shame and hypocritical horror when I found myself laughing as I read this book, "MEDA IS JUST LIKE ME." I don't know how Ms. Eliza Crewe managed to capture my personality so well without ever having known me, without having met me, without knowing of my existence in any conceivable way, but bravo, Ms. Crewe, BRAVO.
Fine. There are some discrepancies between us, ok? I can't fight, and I'm more inclined to run (seriously, I am a fast little mofo), and I used to sleep with the blankets tucked up all around me, particularly around my feet so that monsters wouldn't eat my toes while I cowered in bed. And Meda, while fantastically snarky sometimes, never has a profanity-laden vocabulary. But it's all good. Meda is a teenager! I was a squeaky clean teenager once. But I can see the potential in Meda as she grows up to be more like me. Ah, Meda, my dear. You have much to learn as you grow into your twenties. Your mind and mouth will no longer censor itself, and Meda, my love...the fucks will fly. ^________^
I should probably go back to the actual review and talk about stuff that's relevant to this book. I will try to tone down my narcissism meanwhile...
In short: Interesting (though imperfect) plot. Likeable main character. Above all else: the characters are fantastically conceptualized, the dynamics within the group are absolutely brilliant.
Summary: Meda Melange isn't exactly human. She knows she's half human...but the other half certainly ain't anything remotely angelic. Why? Um, one clue may be the fact that SHE EATS SOULS. Here's where Meda and I differ: I crave chocolate, Meda craves souls. She's not all bad, though, she only munches on a soul every, say, month or so. Me, on the other hand *snorts*.
Meda is pretty much indestructible to the average human. Her skin is like fucking steel. She almost cannot be hurt. Until she runs into a group of demons and realizes that...well, fuck, she's not so indestructible after all. Well, shit happens, and Meda lucked out and gets her ass saved (and eats a huge dose of humble pie in the process) by a group of Crusaders. No, not the ones in the 12th century who traipse to the Holy Land. These are oh-so-righteous people whose destiny is to protect humans with special destinies who will make a contribution to mankind called Beacons. They think Meda is a Beacon. Meda doesn't want to die. Meda lies her ass off. She pretends to be a Beacon in order to:
1. Infiltrate the Crusaders and figure out their super special secrets!
2. Survive (she did almost get her ass handed to her, after all, girl's gotta live)
One thing leads to another, and Meda and her very disorganized group of Crusaders find themselves on the run from a bunch of bloodthirsty demons who wants Meda's ass handed to them on a silver platter. Meda seriously lucked out, because these Crusaders are good-hearted and are so convinced that she is a Beacon that they will risk their life to save her.
Meda also slowly uncovers the truth about her past. There are secrets! Lies! A sexy half-demon in a dungeon! (Another way Meda and I differ, she ignores him, whereas I would have kept him imprisoned in my bedroom. It's understandable, though, Meda's not even legal yet.)
Needless to say: this book is a lot of action, and a lot of fun.
The Characters: The best thing about this book.
Meda Melange is one of the funniest, most kick-ass character in YA paranormal that I have read in a long time. She is truly kick-ass. She can FIGHT, man. If Rose Hathaway and Charley Davidson were to have a daughter together, I like to think she would turn out to be just like Meda. Let's just conveniently ignore the fact that two females cannot have a child containing both their DNA. Because, as we all know, scientific facts have no place in YA literature. As a Soul Eater, Meda has twice the kick-assing potential of Rose Hathaway, and half of Charley Davidson's snark (and for many people, that's a good thing. Charley can be way too much sometimes.)
Not everyone likes me. Not everyone likes my sense of humor, my snarkiness, my personality. That's fine. As such, not everyone will like Meda. There is a fine, fine line between humor and bitchiness, and as it turns out, Meda is a character I can relate to, a character I understand, a character whose personality I love. If you don't like her, if you hate her, if she grates on your nerves, it is completely within reason and I will not judge you for it.
Meda has a hilarious inner monologue. The first few chapters are particularly brilliant examples of it. We get to see her bad-assedness firsthand as she ruthlessly kills a murderer and eats his soul. Truthfully, I would have liked to see her fight more instead of suppressing her inner demon and pretending to be a normal human girl.
We get to see her internal weakness and her guilt at what she's done. We get to see her use her feminine charms and tears (she is not beyond fake-crying if it gets her out of a tough spot) to manipulate a very naive, starry-eyed Crusader boy:
I consider the many tools at my disposal, eyeing his large blood-splattered frame, and settle on my weapon of choice – one so infrequently used I need to dust it off first.
My eyes fill with tears. “Wha–” I swallow hard “– what were those things?”
“Demons.” Thanks, Einstein. I got that part. I let a tear trickle over.
He hurries to reassure me. “Don’t cry – I’ll protect you.”
Humiliating. Absolutely humiliating.
Meda uses whatever she needs to lie, trick her way into the group to earn their trust. It doesn't always work---particularly when there's a fellow bad-assed girl in the Crusader group who's just not into her crap.
Cue innocence! My sweet lashes flutter against my helpless cheeks, my useless hands wring the edge of my guiltless, blood-soaked nightgown. My lovely lips quiver over my pearly white teeth.
Jo isn’t buying...Damn, that gimp bitch is a hard sell.
Meda is not perfect. She feels guilt. She makes some discovery that blows her world apart. Her trust has been betrayed, her life has been a lie. She has to come to terms with that, as well as her own dark nature. She kills out of necessity, but she hates herself for it, when her base nature isn't rejoicing in the darkness.
I’m ashamed of my wickedness – when I’m not reveling in it.
Certain books completely ignore the side characters: this book does not. The side characters---namely, Jo, Chi (Malachi), and Uri, are all equally well drawn. The dynamics of their relationship are spectacular. Jo and Meda, and Jo and Chi in particular. Jo and Meda do not start off well. Jo is a really, really tough kick-ass girl. She is truly a match for Meda---except for the fact that she has lost one leg in a fight years ago. Meda and Jo start off on the wrong foot (no pun intended, I swear on my grandmother's grave, I would not be so callous D:). They distrust each other, Jo knows Meda isn't who she seems, she knows Meda's just putting on an act of innocence. In turn, Meda looks down on Jo, calls her a "gimp," because of her disability, and hates her tough-girl personality. Slowly, they learn to trust each other, they learn that each has her strengths and her underlying weakness, they come to trust each other, they develop an odd sort of friendship. The developing relationship between Meda and Jo is a beautifully written one. Jo is such a complex character, she hates herself, she hates her disability, she hates her helplessness.
“I just get so mad sometimes. I’m never going to be a Crusader, never get married, never do anything. But who do I get to be angry at? The demons? They’re constantly trying to destroy mankind and, if at all possible, Heaven too. There’s enough reasons to be angry at them – my leg’s superfluous. The other students, the Crusaders for how they treat me? They’re not trying to be cruel, I am damaged. They’re so very kind, so full of pity. I’d rather they hate me than feel sorry for me.”
Meda never sees Jo as helpless, and Jo appreciates her for that. Their friendship builds on top of that. Jo and Chi...wow. They were best friends, until the incident where Jo lost her leg. Chi feels guilty, and they both pull away from each other.
“You don’t deserve to be a Crusader – and it isn’t because you don’t have the legs, but because you don’t have the heart.”
Their hurt, their anger, their tense relationship is so intensely well done. The Romance: Um, what romance? Throw away your expectations of romance, of love. There's no insta-love, there's no love triangle, there's none of that shit here. Can I get a "Fuck yeah?" FUCK YEAH.
The new attendee, a man, crouches in the doorway. Well, not really a man, a human teenager. One of God’s most misbegotten creatures – big like grown-ups and yet dumb like children. Selfish, moody, reckless, with a tendency to sleep too much and complain too often.
This book is tremendously fun. It is not without its faults. There are elements in the book that I tend to frown upon (death of a parent, a special destiny), etc., but it is also wholly original in other. It takes quite a few YA tropes and throws it out the window to a bloody death, and I found it absolutely admirable. The book is action-driven, plot-driven. I would have liked this book to be less fast-paced. It felt like some scenes were glossed over far too fast, and I would have liked to know more about Meda's past. Not a perfect book, but still quite enjoyable. Because Meda is the main character. And Meda is so me, man!