Cracked, by Eliza Crewe [Soul Eater #1]

Title: Cracked (Soul Eater #1)
Author: Eliza Crewe
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication date: 7th November 2013 (UK)
Rating: ★

Cracked-144dpiIt seems that whenever I am unsure about a Strange Chemistry book, when I waver the most, that book ends up being so utterly fantastic I can hardly imagine why I didn’t want to jump on it in the first place. This happened with Cracked, which I ate through quicker than Meda eats souls. It was a funny, dark and witty read that I quite literally couldn’t put down. Due to my chronic pain illness and subsequent insomnia, at the moment a lot of my reading is done at night when I can’t sleep. As a result, the quality of a book really has a lot to stand up to, since it’s essentially what’s getting me through the night. When it comes to Cracked, staying up bleary-eyed into the early hours was almost a pleasure. I flipped onto the last page and finally closed the book grinning from ear-to-ear. It’s a surprisingly feel good book, which is very ironic given the theme.

Meda eats souls. She does her best to be cool about it; to only chow down on those who deserve it, just like her mum always taught her to. The thing is, Meda is alone now and she actually has no idea who or what she is. Since she’s noticed a distinct lack of soul-eating tendency from the humans around her, she is pretty convinced that something’s up and she isn’t one of them. But that makes Meda really want to know what she is.

One night when she’s just had supper—he really did deserve it, so it’s totally okay, even if she does enjoy it just a teensy little bit!—men in suits show up and she discovers that they’re like her. But they’re not much in the mood for negotiating let alone spilling the secrets of the universe. They try to kill her and go a way to kicking her ass, until, that is, Chi shows up, fully equipped to deal with the suits. But that also means he’s fully equipped to deal with her.

Meda puts on her best wilting flower act—and Chi falls for it—and she tags along with him, and another girl who shows up, who attends the same school as Chi and lives in the same place. They’re crusaders, Templars, and Meda soon realises that she really has to keep what she is a secret, else… well, she might end up like the suits.

So Meda tags along and tries to learn about her species by prancing about behind enemy lines. It works, for a while, until she discovers something about herself that flips all her tables and leaves her reeling, understanding nothing. Soon, Meda finds herself at the centre of something very big and very deadly. Somehow the suits have found out what she is.

Cracked is an excellent example of how to do funny: it’s actually hilarious. Snarky and dark and filled with a lot more depth than it first shows, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year from Strange Chemistry. Crewe explores a story from a really unique angle and it pays off; there’s a lot of commentary on human nature and good versus evil, which can sometimes come off a little dull. Not in Cracked. Everything is pacy and sharp and utterly slick. Meda is a completely loveable character, despite the fact that she’d happily eat my head for my saying so.

I loved Cracked, every second of it.

It is a fantastic book that demonstrates strength of different flavours in all its character, displaying even someone disabled with as much bite as Meda—and with what those teeth and can chomp, that’s saying something. With Jo’s mean edge, manufactured to hide her pain and loss, Chi’s headstrong, easy-going and trusting kindness, and Uri’s faith, Meda’s team demonstrate their unwavering strength and character in polar opposite ways—but that’s what’s so great about them all. Add in Meda’s apparently selfish exterior hiding a softer, chewier core, and Cracked offers one hell of a strike-force.

Cracked wears its heart on its sleeve: it is surprisingly warm and fuzzy in places, which would probably make Meda sick. Yet even she wouldn’t be able to deny that at the end of the day, Cracked has a warm heart and a feel-good ending. It’s definitely a story about friendship and identity and about trusting yourself despite the odds and despite what everyone else tells you. It has to be the funniest, quirkiest narrative I have ever read, and I’m completely addicted to Meda. I like the places that the story could go from here. This is book one and the stage is definitely set. The foundation is excellent and I am psyched to see where the plot is going to take us. I expect Meda is, too.

Cracked surprised me, by being not at all what I expected. There’s a certain poetry to how Crewe writes Meda’s darker sides, and it’s addictive as hell, steering the story on with a comfortable yet oddly personal pace. There are no illusions that this is Meda’s story and nobody else’s and the pace is entirely hers. I’m already pining for more Meda.

Ultimately, this is an excellent book that I can’t imagine people disliking: it’s so funny. It’s also smart and cool and darkly adorable. It’s an awesome little jaunt through Meda’s head and her fast-spiralling world, so hold on tight, because Meda’s very quick and she’s slowing down for nobody.

Fast, clever and dark—you have to read this book. Preferably, now.


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