Crescendo is Becca Fitzpatrick’s sophomore novel, the sequel to her New York Times Bestselling young adult novel Hush Hush. Published in 2010 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, Crescendo appeared on the NYT. Both novels, as well as the third book in the series, Silence, have sold well internationally and received recognition from multiple organizations. The first book has also been released in graphic novel format.
The series follows protagonist Nora Grey. At the opening of Crescendo, Nora is a sixteen-year-old girl living just outside Portland, Maine. Summer has just started, and she’s looking forward to spending more time with her boyfriend Patch, who also just happens to be her new guardian angel. Things don’t quite go as Nora hopes. In summer school, her chemistry partner is her archnemesis Marcie Miller, whom Patch seems to have taken an interest in. To complicate matters further, Nora’s best friend Vee is now dating Patch’s old friend Rixon. Nora’s only escape from the tension is Scott Parnell, an old friend from grade school who’s just moved back into town. Scott just also happens to be all sorts of bad news. If that wasn’t enough for you, Nora stumbles across some fresh clues indicating that her father’s death the year before may not have just been a random act of violence.
At least there are no sparkling vampires.
It is really easy to see a lot of parallels between Fitzpatrick’s first two novels and Stephanie Meyer’s first two novels. Take one human female teenager and have her date an immortal male who’s stuck in the body of a teenager but happens to be much much older than she is. Except he doesn’t act as if he’s spent the last however many years actually, you know, maturing emotionally. I guess immortals live under rocks when they don’t hang out with high schoolers. In book one, the two lovers get together. In book two, they realize things aren’t as easy as all that, and break up only to get back together at the end. I could go further, but I think you get the idea.
Fitzpatrick’s work does stand on its own merits.
No matter the parallels, I do think that Fitzpatrick is a good writer. She doesn’t take as many liberties with the myths of the Fall (as in, where fallen angels came from) as Meyer did with vampire myths. This helps with the suspension of disbelief that so many people had a problem with in the Twilight books. Patch’s raison d’être is plausible, even without a slight rewrite/expansion of Judeo-Christian mythology. Nora is actually a protagonist; she makes decisions and does things, even if she makes some really stupid decisions along the way. When Nora and Patch have problems, she doesn’t sit around and mope for half a year before deciding she needs to live her life. Fitzpatrick also doesn’t make the numerous grammatical mistakes that are everywhere in Twilight. Her writing mechanics are sound, which was a huge relief to me. My biggest gripe, aside from the typical teenaged stupidity on display in some of the characters’ actions, is pacing. This book didn’t hook me as well as I think it could have, and I kept rushing through scenes because I thought they were taking too long. However, I’m not the target audience of this book, and the things drove me up a wall could very well increase accessibility among its target audience.
Why should you read this book?
If you liked Twilight, you will like the Hush Hush series. As I stated above, a lot of the key pieces of Twilight are here as well, but done better. If you enjoy reading young adult fiction, whatever age you happen to be, Crescendo isn’t a bad read. However, if you hated Twilight for more than its poor writing and you don’t enjoy teen soap operas or young adult books in general, leave this on the shelf.