Need, by Carrie Jones

This is not my first time re-reading a book from the Twilight era of young adult fantasy, so I knew I was not going to get a masterpiece with Need. I was just curious to see how the book handled its fantastical creatures and whether the romance was as meh as I remembered. Plus, after my previous read was meh in itself, I was kind of in the mood for something that got my blood boiling, for better or worse. And, well, this is 2009 young adult fantasy, so…

After Zara White’s beloved stepfather suddenly dies, her mother, believing Zara to be depressed, makes her move from Charleston, Virginia, to Bedford, Maine. Zara adjusts well to living with her grandmother Betty and her new school, where she instantly makes friends. In particular, she befriends local tough guy Nick Colt. But then, a strange man in a black coat begins stalking Zara, and she and her friends band together to figure out who he is and what he wants. Needless to say, things quickly take a supernatural turn for Zara and her loved ones…

So, this book’s token supernatural entities are pixies and werewolves. Well, were-things, since there are a few people who can shift between various animal forms, not just wolves. Zara and her friends learn that the man stalking her is the pixie king, who needs to take a queen, or he will lose his hold over all pixies. 

That’s where the good things about this book stop.

The writing style is stilted and awkward. Characters go on random asides that stop the flow of the scene and also state the obvious quite a bit. Zara, for instance, has something happen to her and she states what happens out loud, in case the audience did not just watch the scene happen for themselves. 

Some sentences feel like Carrie Jones consulted a thesaurus and used the completely wrong word. “I want to gesture my body against his,” for instance, sounds like she wanted to find another word for “move,” and went with the most awkward word choice.

Same thing with “His face rivers into something warm.” What the hell does that mean?

Nick probably gives me the most problems. His dialogue is corny to the point of facepalming. For instance, he gives Zara a smolder shortly after their first meeting and says to her, “I like a lot of things that aren’t good for me,” and I thought, “Ugh, give me a break, Nick.” 

It certainly doesn’t help that he and Zara have zero chemistry. I mean, sure, he helps her out of a few jams, but they don’t know each other deeply enough to justify their relationship. And I could not tell their dialogue apart, so that’s another problem.

Needless to say, I slightly grit my teeth when Zara started waxing romantic about not being able to stay away from Nick, despite only knowing him for a few hours. She even says that she can tell whether Nick is lying based on his dimples showing, but at that point, we don’t have a handle on how long they’ve known each other, so it still annoyed me.

Zara was simply not a very well-written character. We get a feel for her interests and her trauma with her stepdad, but she says the strangest things. After Nick saves her from a close encounter with the pixie king, and they have a tender moment, Zara says that they should be friends even though Nick hates her, which is a very confusing out-of-the-blue statement. When did Nick ever indicate that he hated her? More so, where was the indication that they were not friends before?

The most annoying part is how many times Zara reminds people that she is not weak or a wimp. I guess it’s because people think her interests make her a pacifist, and she feels the need to contradict that statement, but it felt like the author reminding the reader that her main character is not like other supernatural heroines. 

Listen, Carrie Jones. If your character development was not shit, you would not need to keep reminding your reader of your character’s attributes. You would not need to drop random character profiles in the middle of your scenes.

I’m not kidding. There’s a bit where Zara is just lighting a stove, and she makes a random remark about how she is not a wimp before making another random remark about her interest in writing letters and her stubbornness. It comes right out of nowhere and interrupts the flow of the scene. Show, don’t tell, Jones!

As if that was not annoying enough, Zara even reminds Nick that she is not like most girls…

At which point, I had to put the book down and breathe. 

Maybe such a statement was not so annoying in 2009, but God, does it grind my gears now. 

I will say, at least Nick didn’t pull any Edward Cullen if-you-were-smart-you’d-stay-away-from-me nonsense. I probably would have thrown the book across the room.

Nick is also petulant and inconsistent. When Zara’s friends get suspicious about her stalker, he agrees to help them research, but suddenly freaks out when they start looking into sidhe blood. He turns tail at that point, not knowing what that has to do with anything, which doesn’t make sense in the moment, and still doesn’t make sense after all the magical stuff gets revealed to Zara.

Another example is when Zara asks Nick if he would still like her if it turned out that she was part pixie. Spoiler-not-spoiler, Nick is a werewolf, and werewolves and pixies are mortal enemies. Despite this long-standing feud, Nick still assures Zara that he would like her. But then when it turns out, spoiler-not-spoiler, that Zara is part pixie, Nick freaks out and abandons her like she chose to be part pixie.

Nick, I didn’t have much hope for your lack of personality and corny dialogue, but you’re dead to me now.

Oh, and did I mention that Nick and Zara have zip chemistry?

So I don’t buy it at all when Nick tells Zara, a little before the midway point, that he likes her “very much…too much.” Again, give me a break, Nick.

Zara and Nick are also, alas, a pair of idiots. The second half of the book shows them getting through a giant Maine snowstorm, and at one point, they decide that they need to leave Zara’s house to find their friends Issie and Devyn. They decide the best course of action is to drive, so they warm up Nick’s car and they get going. Two problems.

One, they did not shovel the driveway so, lo and behold, Nick’s car gets stuck in a snowbank.

Second, they did not even wonder whether the roads had been plowed.

Like…I was baffled that these two did not have the brain cells for basic snowstorm logic. Guys, what did you think would happen if you attempt to drive out after a BIG snowstorm without shoveling the driveway first?

And Nick, you Maine-born smartass, you didn’t even consider that the plows might not have cleared the roads yet?

Honestly, the only reason they left the house was so the pixies could get the climax rolling. Pixies, like vampires, cannot come into a house unless they’re invited in, so since they could not just barge into Zara’s house and get her there, Zara and Nick continue their idiocy by going out in the daylight, despite knowing that the pixies can now get them during the day.

Oh, yes, pixies can usually only get people at night, but now that their need for a queen is too great, they need to come out in the day.

There’s a lot of needing in this story. Hence the title, I guess. 

So, yeah, this book was kind of frustrating. It does not surprise me that I was not interested in continuing this series when I first read this book, and I certainly do not give a crap about what happens next. Just like other Twilight-era young adult fantasies, I am leaving this one behind and never looking back.

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