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Review: Crusher by Niall Leonard

Saturday, October 20, 2012
by Niall Leonard

Rating: 2 stars
Publication: September 11, 2012
Pages: 336
Author: Website | FacebookTwitter
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Younger Readers
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

The day Finn Maguire discovers his dad bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood, his dreary life is turned upside down. Prime suspect in his father’s murder, Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him.

Scouring the sordid, brutal London underworld for answers, exposing dark family secrets, and facing danger at every turn, Finn is about to learn that it’s the people you trust who can hit you the hardest. . .

When I'm told to expect a thriller, I expect lots of action, suspense, and, well, thrills. The tone I got from this book was bland. It seems as though Finn is supposed to be a cool, analytical guy. He doesn't sure much emotion when he comes across grotesque scenes or kills a guy in self-defense, and he doesn't seem to have much feelings about his dad (official title: stepfather). Despite being a total amateur at sleuthing and the great dangers involved, Finn suddenly decides to find his dad's murderer.

Yes, Finn rightly doesn't trust the officer in charge of the case of his dad's murder and decides to pursue the mystery himself, but I would have expected him to die while poking into the affairs of organized crime. If it weren't for his boxing training, other street smarts (of unidentified origin), and sheer luck, Finn would be dead. Finn's work is sloppy, the crime chase a disappointment. Rather than digging up clues, most of the time it seems as though Finn is just trying to make ends meet. It's purely coincidental that he's able to stumble upon crimes along his way to finding the identity of the ones behind his dad's murder. His work is sloppy, and I doubt people involved in real organized crime would be so careless as to left an amateur like him work his way into their midst. I must say. There were some pretty intense fight things; however, these were so descriptive and hard to follow that they ended up going over my head while other parts of the novel were so languid and slow-paced, seemingly going nowhere, that they bored me.

Some of the things that Finn says doesn't add up either. First, he claims that he's the one who has been taking care of him and his dad, but he doesn't know what to do about finances. He doesn't show much emotion upon finding his dad's body, but then he thinks about him fondly in death. Sure, he might be in shock half the time with all the crazy things happening around him, but if he's as intelligent as he seems to be, his words ought to make sense. In addition, despite being the intelligent guy that he is, Finn uses his dyslexia as a crutch, blaming his inability to do well on it. His dyslexia only impairs his ability to read, not his ability to talk or think or act as a functioning member of society.

If you've been following my reviews for a while, you'll know how I go on about characters. While many elements going into the making of a novel, characters are one of the most in contributing to my overall enjoyment of a novel. If I can't relate to them, I can't relate to the story. The characters in this book are poorly developed. Not only was I unable to get to know them on a personal level and develop sympathy for them, many of them make infrequent appearances. This wouldn't have bothered me so much except that when they do turn up again, they do something unexpected, something that doesn't match what we've been given of their characters thus far.

I did get a pleasant surprise with where the plot took me. It wasn't as straightforward and languid as it seemed to be. In fact, I wouldn't have thought to connect some of the pieces together, and I certainly wasn't expecting the end to take me where it did. If the plot threads were better connected and the characters better developed, the writing more fluid, better detailed and less bland, this book might have been more interesting. This is what earned it that 2 star and made it an okay read. Is it a book that I would recommend, however? No. There are better YA crime/thrillers out there that I would recommend over this one.

A copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher.

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