Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Oh, Crescendo. I always told myself I wouldn't read it, but I wanted so badly to join in my friends' discussions of the many problematic elements of this series. If they could suffer through it, why couldn't I? (And maybe just a little bit of it was my contrary nature responding to the "Be Nice" BS But only a little.) I couldn't do that without reading all the books currently available, so into Crescendo I dove. I regret this. I regret every minute wasted on it.This series is discussed enough for its problematic content, but it really gets kicked up a notch in this book. A scene late in the book where people just stand around and laugh at Nora when she's trying to get away from Scott made me want a trash can. It troubles me that the word "no" does not seem to exist in this series, as Nora can only ever come up with excuses not to do something with a guy, which will lead to him trying again later in hopes of there not being an excuse anymore, instead of giving him a flat-out no.Nora. Oh, Nora. I thought I hated this brainless, immature, slut shaming, unapologetic, overly angsty monster of a human being in the first book, but she's five times worse in Crescendo. She goes full-blown psychotic on everyone. Breaking into people's houses multiple times, considering suicide over Patch not being with her anymore, indirectly and directly calling Marcie a slut more often than she can come up with a coherent thought of her own,... And this is our main character who, if my reading of the text is correct, we are supposed to support despite--no, because of--her actions. She takes a sledgehammer to the lives of everyone she knows while trying to get her happy ending and I don't see why I'm supposed to like her.Just when I thought Patch couldn't get any worse, he did. The way he jerked Nora back and forth, pushing her away one minute and pulling her back in the next so they could make out, disgusted me and almost made me feel sorry for Nora that she's trapped in such a toxic dynamic with this man. How the reader is expected to view Patch gave me a nasty case of whiplash. In the first book, we're supposed to find his innuendos, controlling behavior, manhandling, and general asshattery romantic and sexy. Now we're supposed to hate him for it? Which one is it? I hated him in both books, but this case of mixed messages reveals exactly what is wrong with Patch's character.I am not always the most grammatically correct person on the Internet, and I get even less sensible in the real world because verbal communication is difficult for me, but Crescendo often makes less sense than I do in either world. There are numerous sentences that read horribly despite an arguable technical correctness. For example: "She should have learned her lesson at Bo's and stayed home. And so should have I (Crescendo, 28%)." All it takes to fix a problem like this is different phrasing, but the book can't even do that much.Inconsistent characterization for the sake of conflict is a big pet peeve. In the first book, few people objected to Nora getting close to Patch, especially not Nora's best friend Vee. Now everyone, especially Vee, is against him. One minute, Vee is boy-crazy. The next, she's 100% dedicated to her new beau Rixon. The mom is brought in simply to act as another barrier between Nora and Patch and a slew of minor characters get thrown in just to try and drum up some more conflict when it's never going to happen. Crescendo and conflict are incompatible.Not that the book would have been good if any of those characters were more consistent. Just as it happened in the first book, the prologue gave everything away. For all the talk of the archangels, they're never actually a threat. We're constantly told the archangels are watching and breathing down Patch's neck, but he and Nora get away with so much that it makes the "threat" the archangels are supposed to pose nonexistent and makes them look like idiots. This is a disservice to the book and slander toward the archangels.All the evidence I need to prove how unhealthy Patch and Nora's relationship is can be found in this book. Scott and Patch are undeniably the same kind of person: the bad boy who will take a girl and put her through hell. She can recognize that Scott is this kind of person and has no problem saying so, but she refuses to recognize Patch is the same way. I thought she did for one moment, but her eventual forgiveness of Patch renders that null and void. Neither of them can leave the other alone after the breakup and just when Nora feels ready to move on, Patch pulls her right back into his trap. Once again, I almost feel sorry for Nora. Close but no cigar.The most maddening detail of their endless relationship angst? Neither party is sympathetic. Nora is downright obsessive, contradicting, and psychotic. The main difference between Patch's behavior pre- and post-breakup is that there were less innuendos post-breakup. This controlling douchecanoe of a man jerks Nora back and forth, but she's stealing from other people's homes because of him, and they both treat each other horribly. I wish both of them would die, preferably by being tortured to death by axe murderers.And in the end, Nora forgives him. All that manhandling and controlling behavior and playing hot-and-cold with her that she hated him for when they were broken up? She forgives him for all of it. Based on my readings of Hush, Hush and Crescendo, I feel Nora only had a problem with his controlling behavior in this book because they were not together. If they had still been dating, she would have been fine with it. That this is supposed to be okay and readers are supposed to find this romantic makes me sick yet again. This book made me fill up my vomit bucket.But I will admit one thing: This book made me cry... because it was so terrible. I also cried for Marcie. Marcie, who never had a chance as a character. Marcie, who is slut shamed at every turn while the reader is supposed to think Nora is the "good girl" (and as I elaborated earlier, Nora is anything but). Marcie, who is the closest thing to a complex, flawed character this series has but is here mainly for readers to hate by slandering her at every turn. Marcie, who is bullied and degraded more by Nora than she ever bullies Nora in return. She is not a good person, but Marcie is far more likable than Nora. Heck, I think Marcie's worst crime is having no idea what it means to be tactful--kind of like me.Going on would be no problem because the problems in this book are endless, but twelve paragraphs is enough and I wanted to get started on the long road to healing. I was supposed to read Silence after this to continue what I lovingly dubbed the Speak Up mini-project, but I can't do it. If this one was so bad it made me cry because it was so terrible, how am I supposed to be able to survive Silence and eventually the fourth book? I can't, man. I just can't. I'm signing off and grabbing a better book.------Some Hush, Hush and Crescendo vignettes from my life:1) It was the day of my AP Lit test, I was in my school library, and I had on a tank top, booty shorts, and a pair of wedge heels--pretty much something numerous YA books would call me a slut for wearing. If it weren't for a techicality, I would have had at least three different kinds of dress code violations.Anyway, I was prowling the bookshelves to see what our conservative school decided to let our students have access to. One such book in the library? Hush, Hush. It preened at me in all its glory, sitting there with a beautiful cover that disguised the ugly, twisted story within. As more students came in, the librarian became occupied with telling students where their assigned seats were. Unnoticed, I shoved the copy of Hush, Hush back behind the tallest books in the shelf so no one could see it.In August 2011, I was back in that same library and discovered that Hush, Hush was back to a visible place. This was not unexpected; I knew it would be found during the summer and placed back where it was supposed to be. This could not stop me. Once again, I waited for the librarian to become occupied and I struck again, hiding it in the exact same place.As I write this, it is November 2011. Hush, Hush is still untouched and hidden where I left it. I have done my duty, ladies and gentlemen.2) During the summer after that AP test, I was at the local bookstore with my friend, and Hush, Hush and Crescendo were on sale for four and six dollars respectively. I had a conflict; to buy or not to buy for snarking purposes? My original copy of the first book was long-dead. The angl on my right shoulder said to leave them; I should thumb my nose at the series by not giving them sales and putting money in the author's pocket. Meanwhile, the little devil swang on the earring in my left ear. "Buy them," she told me. "Buy them, paint them red with your pen, snark the fuck out of these fuckers, and dispose of them by trash or fire or cat piss!" (Seriously, cat piss is a terrible way to go.)I did not buy them. That money was better spent on a copy of The Iron Thorn. Later, I bought a copy of Hush, Hush for an even lower price and snarked the fuck out of that for everyone's entertainment. I will bring pictures shortly. The angel won the Battle of the Bookstore, but the devil won the war. Or did she? I have not bought or looked for a free copy of Crescendo. I don't think I ever will. If the devil takes over and wins again, who knows what will happen?3) While back at the same bookstore, two fifteen-ish girls were looking for a copy of Hush, Hush. When I overheard them wondering where it was, I pointed it to them and told them I didn't think it was a very good book, but whatever. Even when I think the book never should have been published, it's not my right to actively keep someone from reading it or say they can't. They left and I felt good for doing a good deed, but I felt horrible because I let two impressionable teens near such a book and let them waste their money on it. But maybe they'll recognize that it's bullshit. Maybe.To cheer you up after that last horrible take, here's a funny from August 20: one of my best friends loves chocolate. I mean loves. When we found early copies of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin on the shelves, we (BFF number two and I) showed it to her. Her reaction was a calm, bookstore-friendly version of the Big No. The premise of chocolate and caffeine being illegal terrified her.While she gave it the stink-eye, an employee came by and took it from her not because of my BFF's behavior, but because it seemed another employee had put copies of the book on shelves when they shouldn't have and now they had to be taken off the shelves. Oops.So when her birthday rolls around in September, what is our gift to her? All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin. I love being evil.