Enjoyable read that NEEDs a little more
Though strikingly similar to other young adult paranormal romances, Carrie Jones' Need was an enjoyable read, even if a predictable and choppy one. After her beloved father's death, Zara sinks into a depression that prompts her mother to send her to her grandmother's home in Maine. At the same time that she must adjust and make new friends, Zara must contend with her grief and the appearance of an apparent stalker. In addition, two different boys at the school take an interest in her and other boys around town start to disappear without apparent cause. Supernatural beings are afoot, some with sinister plans, and Zara ends up squarely in the middle of things.
Pros: Zara was a well-drawn character, complete with an obsession for naming phobias and for human rights work. She was a strong female lead who faced her perceived threats head-on, even if done foolishly. Though much of the plot was predictable, there were a few interesting twists regarding her family's history and the true purpose of the stalker. Some of the secondary characters had better development (e.g., Gram/Betty was a sassy delight) compared to other YA books. The depiction of Zara's grief was also done well. In those moments Zara was thinking back to her father, the emotional pull was strong and visceral. Finally, the romance, once developed, was sweetly sexy.
Cons: The writing was rough in many places, with a stilted voice, but it was unclear whether the author intended this to represent a teen voice or whether it was just poor writing. Plot development was predictable, with only a few twists or variations. Clues about the plot and the true identity of certain characters were dropped heavily and obviously, reducing suspense that might have existed otherwise. Despite little evidence, the characters were too willing to believe in (and act on) a specific supernatural explanation for the stalker. Also, some secondary characters, like Ian and Megan, were flat caricatures.
Regardless of these qualms with the first book, I know I'll plan to read the sequel, Captivate, one day when I need a little mind candy. I hope that Jones can tighten and smooth her writing in the sequel and work on flushing out some of the secondary characters.