Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NEED by Carrie Jones

How to start this review? After all, it would indeed sound corny if I told you that you NEED to buy it, right away. Like, today, which is its official release date. But man, that is what I am so tempted to say, because my friend Carrie Jones? She has really done it this time. In a world where nothing is as it seems, you find the addition of things like glamours, so that things that actually are seem not to be. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, I should confess that I have been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to wean myself off what became a Twilight binge. After seeing the movie with M, I read the whole series in a few days. And then, I read it again. And I read Midnight Sun online (at least twice), and then compared it to Twilight. I was trying to figure out why I like the books so much even though I find many aspects of them completely maddening (my feminist principles are offended by much of the series, to say nothing of the creepy stalker factor and the controlling boyfriends factor and the whiny MC factor and my authorial principles are offended by the abuse of words beginning with "ch" such as "chuckle" and "chagrin", overuse of comparisons to gods and angels, to say nothing of the "why the hell did the author make everything morally easy for all her characters in that last book?" factor and more). I do not have an answer to my questions. But I digress.

Today, I'm talking about the book that has made me say "Stephenie who?" for the first time in weeks: NEED by Carrie Jones, which has a kick-ass cover, a kick-ass heroine, and the hottest (in many ways) hero/boyfriend I've read in a while. In fact, it's so awesome that I am going off tomorrow to score another two copies of it (one for me, one for S) so I can be sure to have first editions. And then, I'm going to re-read it. Like, tomorrow. And now, on to the actual review part of our program:

First, a few words about the cover. The on-screen image doesn't quite do it justice, because it just looks like the girl's mouth is wearing some shiny lipstick. On the actual book cover, it's obvious that she's got gold dust on her lips. And there's a trail of gold dust across her neck behind the gold letters of the title, too. It is, sadly, not actually sparkly glitter, but it is plainly and clearly gold pixie dust.

Yeah, I said it. Pixie. And in the cold, snowy world of Bedford, Maine, pixies are not small, fictional creatures a la Tinkerbell. They are tall. And real. And far more dangerous than you might imagine. And I'm not telling you anything more about them because, y'know, spoilers. But man, Carrie did a great job with them.

Second, our kickass heroine is Zara White. She is sent from Charleston, South Carolina, to the outer corner of Nowhere, Maine by her mother, who is concerned about Zara's emptiness after the death of the stepfather she loved - the only father she's ever known, in fact. Zara goes off to stay with her grandmother, who is named Betty White, but who has precious little in common with the actress of the same name, as best I can tell.

Now, I was certain that there were all sorts of fishy things going on in town early on in the book, because there were references to people not liking her for the way she smelled, for instance. Also? I developed a crush on Nick Colt immediately upon him assisting her into the school on her first day there. But I don't want to get ahead of myself. I want to talk about the kickass heroine for a bit. Because even though she's a damsel who ends up in distress, this is no princess waiting to be rescued. She is proactive all the way. Maybe flawed in being too brave, really, which is a nice change of pace. (At one point - or possibly more than one point - she openly threatens to kick some ass if any harm has come to a friend of hers, using the words "I'll kick your ass" - how much do I love her for that? Oh so very much.) She doesn't just kick ass, she takes names. She is smart and conscientious and clever. And resourceful. And proactive. I like her for that. Plus? I like her quirks, including her fondness for listing phobias.

Back to the hot guy, Nick Colt. I have to agree with M, who has told me more than once that Carrie writes the best boyfriends of any author she knows. (This does not mean, all my many author friends, that you do not write amazing boyfriends too. Honest.) In fact M, who also likes the Twilight books (but who thinks people will find her too geeky for having read them 8 times, so I'm no longer allowed to tell people that), has read Tips at least that many times, and likes Tom better than Edward. She also likes Paolo from Girl, Hero better than Edward, and would very much like a boyfriend who will watch John Wayne movies for her (or the M equivalent). I can't wait to get her reaction to Need, but it will have to wait at least another day, since the book isn't hers yet. *coughSantacough* Nick is charming and mysterious and adorable and hot (in many ways), and every single girl you know (including the adult ones) will have a massive crush on him, guaranteed.

And then there are the supporting cast. I really like the supporting cast, including Meghan the bitchy announcements girl, the obsequious tall guy Ian, the excellent Gram, the bunny-loving Issie, and the wheelchair-bound boy, Devyn. And the pixies, and what they're up to, is really, really creeptastic. And the backhanded paean to Maine's master of horror, Stephen King, is just extra frosting roses on an already excellent cake.

I would be proud to be Carrie's friend even if she wrote idiotic phrases in crayon that didn't make much sense, because she's such a good person. But I am awed to know her, based on her achievement here. And I'm not saying that because she is my friend, because I'd be awed were she a complete stranger.

You're not still here, reading this are you? GO BUY THIS BOOK! You NEED it!

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