Take a bite.
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.
Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.
Which could spell death for us all.
Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally – as the bait.
I’m not going to lie – I was 100% sucked in by that Twilight-esque cover and the promise of vampire romance. I think we’ve well and truly established the fact that I am still trash for vampire fiction.
But, and to my exasperation, Crave is not a very good book. There is nothing original or ground breaking in its flimsy plot, it’s isolated boarding school setting or trope-riddled characters. And I was kind of prepared for that. I mean, it’s YA vampire fiction – what do you want? But even I couldn’t have predicted just how real the trudge would be.
From the get-go I wasn’t fully sold on Crave. I came very close to DNFing after the first two chapters alone. But despite my misgivings, there was just enough intrigue to convince me to give Crave a chance. I was sure I would eventually warm up to Grace and Jaxon, our star-crossed, paranormal lovers. I wanted to become invested in their story.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
The first deal breaker with Crave is the fact that it feels very YA – and not the good kind. The prose basically drips snark and cringe-y teenaged lingo. I mean, phrases like AF, FML and “hella cool” are tossed around constantly. Like, is this really how teenagers talk these days? Apparently so, according to Tracy Wolff. Say what you want about Twilight, but at least the prose felt semi-what sophisticate. Crave, in comparison, felt as though it had been written by a fourteen-year-old.
Also, there were WAY too many pop culture references. Having Grace binge Legacies and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix then read Twilight was just so… cringe-y? I can’t even explain it. I think Crave was trying to be self aware and relate to that younger audience but it just didn’t work for me.
Then we have the almost non-existent plot. You know those books where there always seems to be a lot going on but nothing really happening? Yeah – that’s Crave to a
freaking tee. First of all, despite Grace arriving at Katmere Academy within the first few chapters, it takes almost half of the book for her to actually attend her classes. And there was no sense of structure or normality – characters were constantly skipping class, waging snowball fights and breaking into brawls in the middle of the hallways.
And it’s not until the 60% mark that Grace finally learns the truth about Jaxon and Katmere [something we, as readers, already know] that we finally get some resemblance of an actual plot. Like, I’m sorry but six hundred pages of near death experiences and obsessively brooding over the resident Dangerous Bad Boy With A Gentle Side™ just seemed so fanfiction-y.
Actually, that’s a good word to sum up this entire book – Crave feels like a poorly written Twilight fanfiction. If Bella Swan actually went away to Alaska with Edward Cullen. But just, you know, not in a good way.
Also, there was barely any world building. At all. We were just expected to believe that vampires, witches, dragons and
freaking gargoyles [???] were just strutting around the hallways without any context as to how these creatures came into existence. It just felt like some watered down, lack luster early YA garbage. You know, like the days of Evermore when, for some reason, it was okay to not flesh out your paranormal fantasy world. Yeah, YA has come a LONG way since the 2000s.
I’m not going to talk about the characters because honestly, I just wasn’t attached. Both Jaxon and Grace felt like cardboard cut outs. Nothing new was brought to the table and their romance was almost unbearably clichéd because Jaxon Wasn’t Like Other Boys™.
Grace herself felt very juvenile, coming off as obnoxious and annoying. Especially when every word out of her mouth was “sexy AF” or “bite me”.
But, while I didn’t love Grace, I’ve got to admit that her grief was handled beautifully. I could 100% relate with her struggles and on-going battle with anxiety. I honestly feel like we don’t see enough mental health representation in fiction and Tracy Wolff writes Grace’s overwhelming panic with respect. But, that’s about where my praise ends.
At the end of the day, I can see how Crave might appeal to a specific audience. If you’re into that episodic, choppy fanfiction vibe, Crave might work. And, at this point, I’m not even mad because seriously, I should have known better. While the frostbitten Alaskan setting, complete with the Northern Lights was romantic, it wasn’t enough to save this rather dull, boarding school drama.
Basically, if you’re looking for a sophisticated Twilight 2.0 with a feminist twist, Crave just ain’t it.