Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
I can’t help but wonder if Melinda Metz or Laura J. Burns was ever the ‘Sick Girl’ in school, because they hit that one right on the head with their lead character in Crave. I’ve been trying to decide if I loved this book because it’s a fantastic novel or because I connected so solidly with the protagonist Shay. It’s both.
I didn’t spend my whole life as the Sick Girl, like Shay, but there was a full year of high school like that for me. (I’m better now. No worries.) But the shift in the way others think of you when you have a major illness is stark. In the novel Shay complains that she’s never the smart girl, the insightful girl or even the bitchy girl, she’s just always the sick girl. People hang out with her because it makes them look good. They can’t be mean to her, because it’s wrong to be mean to the sick girl. Shay, of course, hates it. She craves to be normal (everyone wants that in high school).
Her stepfather is also her doctor, and is trying to find a cure for her rare blood disease. She starts new blood transfusions and everything changes. Each time the blood courses through her veins she enters a dream state, seeing someone else’s memories. Gabriel’s memories. Only, she’s him in these visions. Each time she learns more about him, and the time skips centuries. After the new transfusions, Shay is strong. She tries things for the first time — running, kissing a boy, etc. It’s fantastic, but she needs more. She begins to wonder if Gabriel is real. From her visions she knows he’s a vampire, but vampires aren’t real. Right?
Crave flips the vampire scenario around. The human is the one taking blood. The heroine is weak, kind and literally dying to feel alive. We fall in love with Gabriel through his memories. We want to meet him, be with him. Metz and Burns let us see the vulnerable side of an alpha male before we see the strength. It works.
The only hitch is the pacing is a bit off. The plot rushes to completion at the end and makes us suffer with a colossal cliffhanger. The end worked in making us itch to read the next book and find out what will happen, but it still felt incredibly abrupt.
In the long-run, though, it doesn’t matter. I had a visceral reaction to Crave. I read it in a single day (almost a single sitting). I love Shay. And Gabriel. And the honest reactions of those surrounding them. Bonus points for a YA novel giving teens a look at what it’s like for the sick kids.