Release Date: September 7th 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publisher: Simon Pulse
The world has been all but taken over by vampires, which are known as the Cursed Ones. At the beginning when the Cursed Ones made their presence known, they seemed civilized and like ordinary humans with only one difference--they drank blood. But they promised they only drank blood from animals or from blood bags taken from local butcher shops. And with such a charismatic spokesperson, Solomon, for the Cursed Ones, they quickly became the a novelty in society. People clamored to meet them, interact with them, and young girls began to romanticize them, portraying them as harmless cute guys with fangs.
Then war broke out and people learned they had been deceived; the Cursed Ones had to drink fresh blood from humans or they would die. War broke out but soon it became clear the Cursed Ones were winning so human leaders began to forge uneasy truces with the vampires. Both sides claimed they wanted to keep the peace, but it soon becomes clear that despite the claims of human leaders, the Cursed Ones are really the ones in charge.
More and more nations signed treaties with the Cursed Ones and many began to live in fear of the Cursed Ones, who can drain a human dry in mere seconds and who possess strength, speed, and powerful charm which can lure humans to their demise.
Not everyone has succumbed to the Cursed Ones, however. Spain is one of the few countries who have not signed agreements with the Cursed Ones and are actually training hunters to destroy the Cursed Ones. Like the vampires of legend, they can be killed by a stake the the heart, they are irritated by garlic, crosses and holy water burn them and they cannot last in the sunlight. Students from all over the world are welcome at the school in Salamanca, Spain, and Jenn was once such student. She fled her home in America and came to Salamanca to train. After completing the grueling courses, she graduated along with several other hunters and now they are sent on missions as a group.
Despite completing her training and surviving, Jenn does not feel confident of her abilities. She often doubts herself yet her teacher, Father Juan, believes she is destined for something great, and does not allow her to leave. She feels a strong bond with her hunting partner, Antonio, who also believes that the only thing Jenn lacks is confidence in her own abilities.
Suddenly called back home because of a death in the family, Jenn returns to San Fransisco and must confront her family. How will her father, who had always supported vampires and humans existing together take it, now that Jenn is a hunter? What will her younger sister say, who Jenn had left behind when she went to study in Spain? Matters worsen by a tenfold when Jenn is betrayed by someone who was supposed to protect her. A crippling blow in her already low confidence, her insecurities grow hugely. Will she find the strength to continue, or is this the end of her run as a hunter?
There were definitely points in Crusade where I couldn't put it down! I was hooked and had to see what happened next! I really liked how the focus shifted between the different characters in the book so that not only does the story continue, but you get to learn about each character's personality, their past, and their thought patterns. The switching viewpoints were well done; it was never too confusing, but was really helpful in getting a peek into each character's brain.
Crusade takes its time setting the back story and setting up before the plot starts moving along. I didn't really mind that since the whole environment was set up well; you really get a sense of defeat and fear that many people feel, now that their countries have called a truce between humans and the Cursed Ones. I really liked how the authors set up the currents state of affairs (there was good attention to detail); it seems like an accurate prediction to how many would respond if Cursed Ones really did exist and chose to expose themselves. The whole society responding to the Cursed Ones--how society adjusts and views them--really reminded me of Shade by Jerri Smith-Ready. In Shade, Jerri also did an excellent job of showing how society had to deal with a huge change: the fact that people born before the Shift can see and interact with ghosts.
The only criticism I have for this book concerns the ending. I don't quite see it and I don't quite agree with it entirely. It sets up nicely for a sequel, but the character doesn't quite fit the role as the others envision her to, but there will probably be a sequel, so that remains to be seen. I don't want to spoil anything so that's all I'll say. Can't wait to read more in this series!
**Don't forget, I'm currently hosting a giveaway & giving away 5 copies of this novel, along with 4 other novels! Enter here if you're interested! Ends 9/1
Overall: 4.25 out of 5
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Writing: 4.5 stars
Cover: 3.75 stars (It's rather simple, but it works.)