The Exceptions (Melody Grace McCartney #2)
Grand Central Publishing
August 7, 2012
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The Exceptions is David Cristofano's second novel - and the sequel to The Girl She Used to Be released in March 2009 which I reviewed here.
While The Girl She Used to Be told the tale of Melody Grace McCartney, a young woman who has spent her life in the Witness Protection Program after she and her family witnessed a mob crime when she was six-years-old. After numerous relocations she's in for yet another one, all becoming standard to Melody. What wasn't standard was the kidnapping.
Or the man perpetrating the kidnapping: Jonathon Bovaro. The man whose family was responsible for her family's placement in Witness Protection and her loss of a normal life.
And the man The Exceptions centers on.
Where Used to Be was told from Melody's point-of-view, The Exceptions is from Jonathon's. It gives readers the other side to the story. While we've seen (if Used to Be was read) Melody on the run and fearing/hating the Bovaro's, now we see the Bovaro's, heating the McCartney's for being on the run and looking for them. In a family taught to leave no loose ends, the McCartney's are loose ends.
It being Jonathon's fault those loose ends exist, it's up to him to sever them. Only he can't bring himself to do it. He vows to protect her, all the while being the one his family has tasked with killing her.
The more Jonathon watches Melody, the more he knows he can't kill her, forget her, or stay away. He knows he's going to be forced to choose between his family and the girl who has his heart.
I like that The Exceptions takes a character that was presented in The Girl She Used to Be, Jonathon and makes him the main character here. We see him before his later run-in with Melody, from that day at the restaurant that changed both of their lives so greatly forward.
Cristofano does a really good job presenting the dichotomy of Jonathon's character: the son of the head of an organized crime family who understands the need for violence but also the boy who loves cooking and is falling for the girl his family has tasked him with killing. We see his dark and his light. His struggle between evil and good.
It is easy to feel bogged down while reading the beginning. While the setup makes sense and the establishment of the characters (who were either not in The Girl She Used to Be or just ideas Melody had) is necessary, it can be slow reading. The second half of the book picks up, though. Things are different, we know the characters there's more action and some familiar characters are back.
While I had trouble with Used to Be feeling like it didn't really know what genre it wanted to be, The Exceptions worked much better for me. While it wasn't a mystery, there was the right amount of tension when outcomes or motives were left unclear, at least temporarily.
I didn't remember much more than the basics of Used to Be when I started The Exceptions, some of it came back to me as I read, but a fair amount of it didn't. So, I don't think that reading the first book is required for reading this second one and following it. I did suggest the books to someone, though, and they've just read both books and loved them so if you haven't read, either, I would suggest attempting to read both, together.
thank you to Grand Central & NetGalley for my e-galley