Monday, 27 July 2015

#46 - "Cracked" by Eliza Crewe

Vices and Shit


by HotBot

(book accidentally stumbled upon by HotBot)

Editor's Note: The main characters in this book are called "Meda," "Chi," and "Jo," which together are an anagram for "I, Chode-Jam." I, Chode-Jam indeed.

Sometimes, books make me angry.  Not books in general of course—I’m talking about specific ones.  I pick them up, all excited and ready to be bedazzled—and then I’m hit with a pile of shit instead. It’s not what I want.  Nobody Almost nobody wants that.  Such was the case with Eliza Crewe’s “Cracked”, and it irritated me sufficiently that I asked the gentlemen of the Piece of Shit Book ClubTM whether I could volunteer as tribute. Just this one time.

Cracked isn’t a shit book because it’s racist.  There is no fucking dinosaurs or dolphins, no heroin-based autobiographies, no subtle pro-US propaganda.  There’s not even any thinking you’re a horse.  But it does check all the boxes for an unlikable and unrelatable protagonist, a confusing target age, soooo much Bible-iness, and some casual harassment.  For a little background, our ‘heroine’ is Andromeda Melange, half-demon soul-eater and teen with attitude.  There’s also a bunch of people called Crusaders—virtually all of whom we meet are likewise moody teens or invalids—and they’re at war with the Demons, while protecting people they called ‘Beacons’.  Now, I don’t want to spoil anything, but Meda’s last name means “mixture”.  Any thoughts as to what makes her so special?  Spoilers, she’s a Crusader-Demon-Beacon.  A crudemacon.  Will she choose good?  Will she choose bad?  Who the fuck cares, but you can guess it from the outset if you’re so inclined.

Now, in chronological order:

The first few chapters
Meda goes psychotic and rips apart a man with her bare hands, releases insane people into the streets, and dances in trail of blood.  Despite the grizzliness, the word choice and ‘voice’ reflects perhaps a pre-teen audience, maybe the 12-14 bracket.  Meda’s character is 17.

Meda next encounters her first Crusaders, one of whom is Chi (Malachi—get it?  Religious!  Because all the good guys are).  And because this is apparently what pre-teens like to read in books, we get this comment after Chi takes off his jacket: “The looks of an angel and yet all it makes me want to do is sin.”  This made me want to look up the Bible Malachi, and we have this dude:

'Sinning' is not at the forehead of my mind.

P71—What’s a plot hole, anyway?!
Chi, his friend Jo, and a kid called Uri(el), are explaining what ‘Crusaders’ are.  They are like advanced ‘Templars’ (yes, Knights Templar), and are descended from the original Knights.  But it’s not only descendants of the ‘originals’ that have special powers: “Oh, and anyone who marries a Templar”.  That’s right.  But why?  What could the reasoning be?  What is the world logic here?  Meda wonders the same thing, and asks.  “They all blink at me.  Finally Uri answers, ‘Because God says so.’”.  OH.  Because God says so.  Of course.  What the fuck happens in case of divorce?  What if it’s a marriage of convenience, because I hear there have been one or two of those since the recognition of the Knights Templar in the twelfth freaking century?!  What if someone stumbles onto your secret and starts force-marrying and divorcing you to a whole bunch of people in order to raise some kind of super army?!  And moreover, why the fuck is this important to the story?!  There’s this whole marriage theme that runs throughout—adult Templars, for example, always fight in pairs.  And those pairs are always couples.  And 17-year-old Chi, by the end of the book, is ‘joking’ about how he’s going to ‘make’ Jo marry him—but more on that later on.  Enough.  We get it.  Jesus, God, marriage, blah.  But please oh please cover up at least the more glaring of your plot holes with something a little more substantial.

P79just a couple more names
Oh hey there, Ezekiel, Abraham, Methuselah and Judas.  Sigh.  And this book isn’t half as endearing as the way Christian mythology is used in Supernatural, for example.  Where’s Castiel?  We all want Castiel dammit!

There are an unbelievable number of memes of this guy on the internet.

P130—Sloth (on behalf of the editor)
Three times in the book, words were randomly in a different font size.  I don’t know why.  At first I thought it was some kind of inner dialogue mechanism.  Then I read the sentence “no one could be that surprised” and my internal monologue was confused.  I felt lied to.  Betrayed.

P186—Gluttony (in a very loose reference)
Meda constantly talks about her Hunger.  Her hunger for food, but also her Hunger for Souls.  Or, rather, the life attached to souls, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.  I assume it’s some kind of Siamese-soul situation, and you swallow one then spit out the rest.  The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am.  Meda kills a person and then sucks out their soul, swallowing all of it.  But it’s okay, because really she only digests the ‘life’ associated with it.  So where does the rest of the soul go?!  And how are there ghosts wandering around (one of whom has a subplot which is never resolved) with all aspects of life, when Meda later explains that they’re only souls, no life?!  Meda is called a ‘Soul-eater’ (it says so right on the back cover!), but other Demons, ‘Real’ Demons, suck ‘life’ directly from … some kind of afterlife?  But not souls, oh no, not souls.

Either way, on the topic of eating, I was irritated to find an overbearing explanation of the word ‘hangry’ on page 186.  It’s like the author had just learned the word from a friend—a word which is in fairly common use, at least where I’m from—and was excited to teach it to the world.  Give me a break.

P216—the one thing I liked
This sentence.  This solitary sentence.  “Those of us who live with twisted bits like to think we can overcome them.”  It’s with reference to somewhat-crippled Jo, who doesn’t allow her gimpy leg (and I only say ‘gimpy’ because that’s how the author/Meda keeps referring to her) to hold her back.

A reference is suddenly made to the lack of a particular burger chain the UK.  As far as we know, the protagonist has never been to the UK, so this is just a bout of random.  Is the author trying to check whether we're awake?!

P274—again with the life/soul distinction
All right, so firstly, again with the ‘which age group is this for’?  A 13-year-old boy is tortured to death.  Lovely, right?  And then we (through Meda) see his “soul, stripped of life”, before ascending to presumably Heaven.  What?  So his soul didn’t have life but was still moving on to whatever afterlife?  So it sounds like Demons aren’t doing any harm by taking the ‘life’ from people’s souls, as they get to where they’re going anyway.  And in that case, how the hell (yes, a pun, but an angry one) do the Demons suck life from souls in the afterlife?!  BOOK YOU MAKE NO SENSE.

P278—oh no.
Meda meets her demon father, and she has the thought “I am such a naughty girl, aren’t I, Daddy?”.  Now I don’t know if it’s just me, but I read this and cracked up.  Thank you for backing up every ‘daddy issues’ cliché ever, Crewe.  Thank you.  I’m just surprised that it didn’t devolve into some kind of spanking/incest scene—especially given the father in question is apparently an incubus, and that’s what they do.  Or is it only when people are asleep?

I shit you not, the caption for this was "an incubus about to fornicate with a sleeping beauty".  I like how he looks lost in thought.  I'm less charmed by the idea of waking up to find a naked red dude sitting on my bed staring at me, especially if to all intents and purposes I've been drugged as this woman appears to have been.  Who the fuck sleeps like that?  You'd choke on your tongue!  Is this some kind of necro crossover?!
I don’t know, it’s not my bag, but the only context in which I ever encounter someone older than around 10 using the word ‘daddy’ is in a sexual sense, so this was just…  Oh dear.

P301–327 (ie end of book)
Chi and Jo declare their love for one another during a fight to the death with a demon horde (man, I just do not get to type ‘demon horde’ often enough).  I mean come on, if Buffy taught us anything it’s that people say stupid things when they’re about to die.

Buffy announces she loves him, given the apocalypse going on.  Spike is like "duh, no you don't, don't be retarded".
Then, once it’s been said, an incredible amount of the rest of the book is taken up with the following.  But imagine Spike is Chi.  Now watch the gif for ten minutes.  Now see if you feel like punching anyone.

I was never in the Spike camp anyway, punch away.

But does Jo go along with this?  Oh no.  P310, she explains that “’I only said that because we were about to die.’”  Straight-forward, right?  But Chi refuses to believe it, and keeps telling her how she loves him and she’ll be 'his'.  While saying how one day her name will be ‘wife’.  Meanwhile Jo keeps reiterating that “’I meant it at the time.  I thought we were going to die.’”  But Chi just doesn’t take his would-be wife that seriously—she probably doesn’t know what she wants, that silly duffer.

Except that she does.  And she's told you it's not you.
Chi is so persistent in fact, that Jo is forced from the room, and then in a later scene she has to run into the woods to escape him.  Chi is even good enough to describe the whole shebang as a “romantic assault”.  Oh yeah buddy, keep using words like ‘assault’ when you’re chasing some girl into the woods.  Good work.  Here’s some more of Jo protesting:
“’I don’t want to talk to you anymore,’ she says in desperation.  ‘I don’t want to see you ever again.  Just leave me alone!’  Her voice is high-pitched and frantic. 
‘Not gonna happen,’ he says easily.  ‘Ever.’”

Well that’s not scary as fuck.  Even Meda—half-Demon Meda—asks him what the hell he’s doing, pointing out that Jo’s getting more and more upset.  On the other hand, she then lets him go run into the forest after the girl who has been forced to flee him, so maybe she’s true to her demonic nature after all.

Finally, Meda finds herself wandering through the woods, and she comes across Chi and Jo.  No, they’re not banging.  But they haven’t seen her, so she hides in the bushes to watch them.  And watches Chi kiss Jo—while she’s crying and protesting—and pretends to eat invisible popcorn.  Oh and then suddenly the murdered kid’s ghost appears, even though ghosts once they’re in the afterlife are meant to stay there, because fuck plotlines.

1/10.  Fuck this shit.

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