Thrillers make great audiobooks. I’m sure that’s because they feel more cinematic when listening to them than less-thrilling novels. As a movie fan, something cinematic is a plus. That’s how I felt going into Lisa McMann’s new supernatural thriller, Crash. Crash is the first book in her new Visions series. I hadn’t read any of McMann’s books before, although Wake was recommended to me several times. I was curious to check out her work; in addition, I’m always down for an audiobook thriller, especially when it’s only a little more than 5 hours long.
Crash follows Jules DeMarco, a seemingly normal girl living outside Chicago and working for her family’s pizzeria. Her family’s business rival is another pizzeria owned by the Angotti’s. One day Jules begins to have visions about an explosion erupting at the Angotti’s restaurant and killing several people, including the one she’s secretly in love with, Sawyer Angotti. She sees the vision everywhere, on billboards, signs, TV and sometimes on any reflecting surface. Jules feels powerless against the visions. Is she going crazy? Or are they real and warning her about something that will happen? If they are real, how can she convince people she’s not crazy and prevent the explosion from happening?
Crash struck accord with me quite quickly. For one, it’s set in Chicago, particularly Melrose Park, not far from where I live now. The other thing is that Jules is Italian and her family owns a pizzeria, and well, I’m Italian. I’m pointing those out because it’s rare when I can actually have a fairly accurate idea of what Jules’ life is like on the surface. From there, things start to deviate between us. Jules gets her visions and becomes increasingly overwhelmed. She constantly worries that she’s going crazy because mental illness seems to run in her family. So in the first half of the novel, it really felt more like psychological thriller. For the most part, I believed Jules, but there was an inkling of me thinking that maybe she really is mental.
Once we get into the second half, the story changes tone. It becomes more of a romance. Yes, Jules was being all lovesick on Sawyer from the beginning of the book, but it increases in the second half. Before you know it, I realized that this is a modern day retelling of Romeo + Juliet. No joke. At this point, I wasn’t even sure what the backdrop was: the romance or thriller? McMann has a bit of trouble balancing both. She made Jules a little too obsessive over Sawyer. When you’re spending five minutes hearing about some dude’s eyelashes, I think it’s going a little too far. I wasn’t sure if Jules’ borderline obsessive love for Sawyer was supposed to be over-the-top and funny or taken seriously. Narrator Allyson Ryan borders on both. She gives a dreamy tone with tiny hints of sarcasm when narrating Jules lovelorn thoughts. I, for one, took it as humor. I mean, really, it’s hard not to have a good laugh over some of the stuff Jules fawns over. Yet, all this really took away from the action and “thrills” at hand.
The major thing that Crash has going in its favor is that it’s a short, brisk experience. (Only 5 hours and 18 minutes long!) It has great momentum, even during the romance and family drama parts. Another highlight is the dynamic between Jules and her siblings. I enjoyed their interactions; they felt genuine and even more heart-warming than the romantic bits.
Crash started off as an intriguing story with lots of potential to be original and unique and waned down into overly familiar territory. Yet, I still managed to find it to be engaging and enjoyable. Those looking for a pure, unadulterated thriller will be disappointed. However, those who love romance, especially involving star-crossed lovers, will like the added thrills and supernatural element. I recommend listening to the audiobook for what is probably a livelier, and at times more cinematic, experience than reading the book.
Crash by Lisa McMann is now available wherever books are sold. You can purchase the audiobook from Simon & Schuster or purchase the hardcover at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (January 8, 2013)
- Length: 5 hours, 18 minutes
- Series: Visions #1
- Source: Digital Audio – Unabridged (Provided to me by publisher)
- Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Thriller, Family, Supernatural
- Completed: January 2013