10:00 am EDT, September 29, 2020

‘Crush’ book review: Get ready for a *lot* of internal screaming

Crush, the second installment in Tracy Wolff’s obsession-worthy Crave series, is finally here and… well… prepare yourself to scream internally for 500+ pages straight because *spoiler alert* you’re going to love it.

Picking up a few months after Crave left off, Grace mysteriously emerges from her gargoyle state with no memory of her time as a stone statue. But there’s one thing she does know for sure: She saved her boyfriend Jaxon from being stuck down by his brother Hudson… and the world as she knows it has completely changed. She no longer belongs to just herself.

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The race is on for Grace to figure out just how to regain her independence (without putting the rest of the world at risk) while dealing with the aftermath of Hudson’s return and the secrets he insists on exposing. Further still, she must also come to terms with her newfound gargoyle self and learn just what it means to be a rare treasure in the paranormal world.

When danger beyond anything she could’ve ever dreamed of threatens her friends and those she loves, not to mention the world as she knows it, Grace must find the strength to fight back even if it means sacrificing herself in the process.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved reading Crush. I mean, I couldn’t get enough of Crave (and I get more and more excited every day to see it on the silver screen, hopefully sooner rather than later), but Crush is on a whole other level.

Like Crave, reading Crush is a very cinematic and dramatic experience. I couldn’t help but audibly react to some of the book’s major reveals and surprises (going so far as to alarm my cat, I’ll have you know). And when I wasn’t screeching aloud? I was internally screaming. I essentially “squee”ed my way through the last 30 pages or so. Nonstop.

Honestly, this book is a wild ride from start to finish.

Let’s start with the fact that Grace is a gargoyle. A GARGOYLE. That was the biggest surprise at the end of Crave, and definitely one that I did not see coming. While there isn’t a lot of discovery or explanation in Crush about what being a gargoyle really entails, it’s truly a joy to see Grace work to figure things out.

'Crush' by Tracy Wolff (Crave #2)

After all, there are few literary (or even pop culture) precedents for gargoyles. The only things I can really think of are the supporting characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney animated movie version, of course) and the Gargoyles animated TV series from the 90s (which gets a great shout-out in Crush). These paranormal beings haven’t been done to death like vampires, witches, and werewolves.

Every new detail about what it means to be a gargoyle is truly fresh, unexpected, and surprising, both for Grace and the reader. Author Tracy Wolff obviously had a blast coming up with the “rules” and creating a lore that’s entirely her own. It’s really fun to tag along with Grace as she explores her new identity because it’s a brand new and unpredictable journey for us too.

I’m also happy to say that, along with that journey, is an even more explicit endeavor for Grace to assert independence and agency. When it first came out, Crave prided itself on being a more feminist and inclusive vampire novel but, for a lot of it, Grace is kept in the dark. She’s frustratingly aloof and while she doesn’t necessarily rely on others for everything, she doesn’t show that she has all that much agency either.

That completely changes in this novel. Grace is constantly asserting her independence and strength throughout Crush, prompting discussions of agency at almost every turn and with every new plotline.

For instance, Grace’s closest family and friends all constantly talk about what they’re going to do to help her and make decisions for her without asking her what she wants to do or giving insight on what she can do for herself. And she calls them out on it.

Crush, moreso than Crave, really delivers on a promise of a heroine that can save herself and the ones she loves. Yes, she needs help sometimes, but she never needs protection or saving. She’s got that covered all on her own. It’s such a refreshing detail to read, making this series all the more enjoyable.

But, I mean, this series is already so much fun to read thanks to all of its colorful characters. Crush features all those we came to know and love in Crave, including (of COURSE) Jaxon, Macy, and Flint. But we also meet a slew of new characters that add new elements and issues (not to mention loads of DANGER) into the mix.

I think the only complaint I have character-wise is that there’s not enough time spent really getting to know and develop the secondary characters further, Jaxon included. Much of this book takes place inside Grace’s head and thoughts, detached from the others even if they’re physically standing in the same room. With everything Grace has to figure out, she spends more time processing and unraveling things internally than she does really interacting with Jaxon, Macy, and Flint. At least, to the extent that she did in the first book.

'Crush' by Tracy Wolff (Crave #2)

This is disappointing mostly because I wanted a little bit more with her and Jaxon. Crave was filled with so many swoon-worthy moments between the two of them that, while I get that this book had bigger issues to deal with than romance, I missed the intimacy and reminders of why these two individuals work so well together.

That’s not to say that they’re not together at all or their romance isn’t a plot point, because they are and it is. It’s just lacking a bit of that tenderness because they never really get many quiet moments alone.

On the other hand, the reason for that is a very, very good one. One that I don’t want to go into too much detail with here (because you’ll enjoy it more if you go in completely blind), but that I very much enjoyed and am glad we got almost a full book of. (And once you’ve read Crush and know what I’m talking about, please tweet me so that we can yell about it together.)

The only other thing I wish there had been more of in Crush is answers. Crush offers and poses far more questions than it has the room (or real intent) to answer right now, which is saying a lot for a book that’s 500+ pages long. Not only that, but it leaves many of the questions from the first novel unanswered as well.

However, this is not at all due to negligence as there are so many teases for answers to burning questions that get explicitly pushed away until later. So, going in to Crush, know that you’ll just have to accept the fact that you won’t receive the answers you’re after. You may receive more context to the questions themselves, but few resolutions.

But hey, there’s always book three!

In true Crave series fashion, Crush is full of delicious twists and turns that will leave you yearning for more, especially when it comes to the ending. I only just finished Crush and am already dying to sink my teeth into the next installment. (It’s a good thing Covet, the third book, is supposedly only six months away!)

If you loved Crave, you will be infatuated by Crush. I didn’t think it was possible to love this story and these characters any more than I already did, but this book proved me so horribly wrong. Consider me the Crave series’ #1 fan. (Seriously.)

Dangerous and intriguing, empowering and swoon-worthy, Crush is everything fans of the series didn’t know they’d want in a sequel and sets up a third installment you won’t want to miss.

Crush by Tracy Wolff is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, or Indiebound. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” list!

'Crush' by Tracy Wolff (Crave #2)

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