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Review: Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

Crusade (Book 1)
Author: Nancy Holder (Website)
and Debbie Viguié (Website)
Release Date: 9/7/10
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Source: Bought (Borders)
Go Buy It! Amazon/Borders
Overall Feelings: Absolutely phenomenal. Mind-boggling!

"The ultimate battle. The ultimate love.

For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.

Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated—and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.

Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself—and her heart."

Plot & Ending: Whoa. My mind is still reeling. Let me just say, that I have never in all my years read a novel quite like Crusade. Absolutely never. I loved Wicked, I did, I have it sitting on my book shelf also, but this...wow. 

The novel begins with a journal entry written by Jenn Leitner, the heroine. In this opening chapter she explains two key things: (1) The vampires in the world have emerged unexpectedly and are slowly taking over the world, influencing several countries and (2) Jenn Leitner, and her team, are a group of hunters whose mission is to destroy the Cursed Ones, or vampires.

Readers will be thrust into a freakin' intense, ass-kicking fighting scene that blew me away. The characters introduce themselves as well.

After each section of the book, my mind was thinking at a pace of a million miles a minute and my knees were shaking. When I'm reading, I'm known to talk out loud and vividly express myself. Reading Crusade...my mouth did not form a single syllable. I was so completely, utterly engrossed in this new world, I didn't even notice my surroundings. Once I surfaced after reading a section, it took me a moment to realize just where I was. 

The thing is, what made the world of Crusade seem so real was the vampires' effect on the various governments, especially the United States government. I felt like I could be any one of those civilians Holder and Viguié wrote about, dealing with this new, frightening threat.

Again, 'whoa' for the ending. While I expected what happened to Jenn's sister in the end, it did not take away from the impact of the situation. There's so much death in this novel, a lot of sadness and betrayal. Not that it's morbid and dismal necessarily, but it's definitely...gruesome, I guess.

I absolutely, 100% recommend this book. Especially if you liked/loved Wicked. Otherwise, you'll be missing out on a great novel...though if you can't withstand the...creepiness of it, then I would advise you not to read this alone, in the dark, or right before you go to sleep, because it will certainly give you some interesting things to think/dream about.

Characters: Holder's and Viguié's characters are fathomless. Each one of the main characters is haunted by something. Could be the past, a secret, or what they are. There's so much feeling involved. One thing I delighted in, even in Wicked, is the varying backgrounds and eccentricities behind each character. I adored each one of them, even Jamie. 

"It is a crusade, at least for most of us. A holy cause. We are dedicated to it. We will give our lives for it. We fight for the idealism of the young and the struggle with the emotions and confusions of growing up at the same time. For us love and hatred can spin into life or death, especially for me, Jenn Leitner. 

And for some of us, death can never come. Which means this war can rage on...forever. --from the diary of Jenn Leitner" --Jenn (356)

Cover: Oh my gosh. This cover *lovingly caresses the front of purchased copy* ...it's beautiful. Look at the gate, the intensity of the tableau behind it. If I had just walked into a book store and walked passed this book, I would've stopped to check it out under the impression that the book would be awesome. Oh, goodness, and the blood. It makes an impact, I tell you. I'm so very, extremely ecstatic about having this book on my shelf. And you can too. Go buy it and read it! You'll see what I mean.