Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Crushed (The Witch Game Novels #1) by Kasi Blake Review

Hey readers, Ethan here with another review for you guys. This time I'm sharing my thoughts on an amazing novel from my Clean Teen Publishing family. A new-Young Adult paranormal that really took me by surprise. On the chopping block today? Crushed by Kasi Blake. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and our author:

The Noah girls have beauty, powers, and brains.They use all three to play their games.
They blow the dust,
the boys are crushed,
and no one is ever the same.

Each year the Noah girls play a secret game— Crushed. The rules are simple.

1. Use wisdom to pick your target. The boy can't be too weak or too strong-willed.
2. Blow the enchanted dust into your target's face to enchant (Crush) him.
3. Give verbal commands and assign them tasks to perform throughout the year. The more tasks completed, the stronger the witch's power grows.
4. At the end of the year, the witch with the most power wins cold, hard cash.

As if being a witch in high school isn't complicated enough, Kristen picks the wrong boy to Crush. Zack is tall, handsome, and a little scary. Her Crush spell isn't working on him like it has with the others. In fact, he is behaving the opposite of every other boy she's Crushed, hating her instead of adoring her. Something is definitely wrong. After someone attempts to kill her, Kristen realizes there is more at risk than a few hundred dollars. She may be betting with her life.


Kasi Blake

Born and raised in California, I fell in love with writing while reading The Outsiders. Then I fell in love with Stephen King's writing style. I enjoy reading many types of books, but YA Paranormal is my favorite. I used to write for Harlequin under a different name. So that's my background. Exciting, no?

I have seven books out now: Vampires Rule, Werewolves Rule,Shifters Rule, Crushed, Witch Hunt, Bait, and my only adult novel, a romantic suspense called Pandora's Box.


My Thoughts:

Read after read, I find myself struggling to keep interest. Genres are becoming far too repetitive and unique spins and original ideas are few and far between. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of all things paranormal and that witchcraft is pretty much at the top of my interests. While the idea of a YA witchcraft novel is definitely not unheard of (I mean, they're everywhere), Kasi Blake stood up in the crowd and took a stand for originality and really blew it out of the ballpark.

Before I start raving, allow me to get my one negative aspect out of the way. I haven't read any of Kasi's works prior to this, though they've all been thrown at me with glowing recommendations. I don't know if her other stories are similar in style to Crushed, but I'll go ahead and say this anyway. This story was the near the cleanest YA witchcraft story I've read. This is by no means a bad thing, I have just come to expect more cursing and adult situations from my YA reads and this one really shocked me. There was a whole lot of potential to juice up the adult content, but it never came to fruition. The novel stand on its' own as an amazing read, but just a heads up to anyone looks for a mature YA novel, you wont find it here. This story is appropriate for all YA readers.

The plot for Crushed was pretty awesome. It's an extremely quick-paced and easy read that's sure to keep you interested page after page. Blake's unique spin on the YA witchcraft trope will definitely leave you satisfied. The idea of the Crushed game between the sisters was both well-written and intriguing. I would have loved to see more of this in the novel. The story was definitely suspenseful at points and I can honestly say there were several times that I didn't know who was good and who was evil. I wish more YA novels weren't so transparent. Blake clearly has a knack for leaving her readers reeling for more. 

The characters in Crushed really gave me a lot to think about. On the negative end, they're very unrelatable for someone like me: a male reader born and bred in the Midwest. Surrounded by riches, more than a little spoiled, and slightly entitled, these characters were all tragically flawed in the greatest of ways. These characters weren't written in the sense to make them likable (for me), but the story Blake was able to craft from that was incredible. The character truly read like as though they were from in an MTV/CW series which will resonate great with audiences of those mediums. Specifically speaking, Zach was my favorite character. I don't know if it was the mysterious about him or just the fact that he didn't act like a teenager that made him stand out. I really appreciated his character. Now believablilty? I found some fault with the idea than an 18 year old in high school managing an estate, buying land, and caring for a mentally challenged sister, but Blake made it work. As for the Noah girls? They were all very different, much like teenage girls are, which was refreshing to read, but again, like Zach, I found some of their specifics to be a bit questionable as well. If you can take the story for what is was at surface level, you will have no problem enjoying the tale that Blake has elegantly crafted. While some of these specifics didn't sit extremely well with me, I still found the overall story to be immensely enjoyable!

The setting for Crushed was a rather interesting one that I didn't really understand for a while. The story takes place in California, where the rich live like kings and the regular peeps aren't given a second of attention. All of the characters in this story come from money and is evident in each home that's described and each sports car, motorcycle, or mode of transportation displayed. Blake does a phenomenal job with these descriptions, leading me to picture Crushed much like an MTV original series. It could happen people. The sprawling countrysides and beautiful sandy beaches were described as though I were there to witness them myself. The world of Crushed is one I definitely wish I could have entered.

The paranormal element in Crushed took an interesting turn. While witchcraft has been beaten over the head, Blake found a way to make hers definitely stand out. While our characters are witches, they don't come from a family of witches (just a grandmother) which really left me with more questions, but I digress. The idea of dark magic being the means by which a witch can acquire power was such a fun twist on the lore. I also loved the idea of accusing witches to make them lose their powers. That was one awesomely unique twist Blake caught me with! I can't say I necessarily liked how Blake ended the novel (in the magical sense), but I definitely see why it happened the way it did. 

All-in-all, I am so excited to be granting Crushed by Kasi Blake a well-deserved 4-star review. While it wasn't quite everything I was looking for in a YA paranormal witchcraft story, it set the bar high for originality and plot which earns Kasi Blake major points in my book. I hear that book two is just as incredible as this one so I cannot wait to check it out. I highly recommend Crushed to any fans of YA, paranormal, or good a clean teenage romance. Tie in all those categories and you've got a story you'll be proud to have grace your shelves. Don't delay, add this one to your TBR today! 


Alright readers, there you have it, my thoughts on Crushed by Kasi Blake. I cannot wait to see more from this author and this series. Sound like the read for you? Add it to your TBR today! Until next time, Happy Reading!


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