Willow has spent most of her life as her mother's sidekick in a popular Las Vegas hypnotism show. So when she and her mom move back to their sleepy southern hometown to start over, she thinks she's in for a life of quiet normalcy. Except that her new life turns out to be anything but, when she kinda sorta hypnotizes Quinton, the hottest guy on the football team, to fall madly, deeply, head over heels in love with her. But what started out as an innocent way to make her best friend, Max, jealous soon gets way out of hand, and Willow begins to wonder if the mind - and more importantly, the heart - is something you can really control.(Publisher's Summary from Goodreads)
While Crush Control deals with issues many YA contemp novels deal with (romance, relationships, friends), Jennifer Jabaley did a fantastic job creating a story that definitely stands out. Willow was a fantastic character. She has spent the past five years living in her mother’s shadow (the Hip Hypontist), invisible, responsible, and unwilling to take any risks. Max her best friend since childhood, and Willow have stayed in touch and although their relationship has been completely long-distant, Willow has high hopes that when she moves back to Georgia they will be able to move from best friend status to a more romantic one. Unfortunately, Max already has a girlfriend so in an effort to make Max jealous, Willow decides to use what she has learned about hypnotism from her mother and hypnotizes Quinton into being her boyfriend.
I found the idea of hypnotism extremely interesting and hilarious. Once Willow hypnotizes Quinton he falls head over heels for her. He follows her around, skips football practice, doesn’t do his homework, and showers her with gifts. Willow also get talked into helping Mia, the most popular girl in school overcome her fear of heights so she can perform more and more difficult cheerleading maneuvers. When things begin to go terribly wrong with Quinton, Willow and her new friend, Georgia try to undo the hypnotic suggestions. They even buy a magic potion and voodoo doll, but nothing works. While I really enjoyed the antics Willow and Georgia take to reverse Quniton’s over the top crush, I also kept hoping that Willow would realize just how over her head she was and seek help from her mother. Unfortunately, it isn’t until things go from bad to worse that Willow finally admits to her mother what she has done.
What I liked most about Crush Control were the strong relationships Jabaley developed. Willow and her mother were an interesting pair. I liked how comfortable they were with each other, and while I did understand that Willow felt overshadowed by her mother’s charisma, and even a bit disappointed in her refusal to build bridges with her own mother, in the end Willow realized that her mother was special and a good mom and was able to defend her without hesitation.
I also loved Max and Willow’s relationship. It was impossible to believe that Max and Willow would not end up together, but the more Willow refused to tell Max how she felt and made stupid decisions to try to win him over, the farther away she seemed to get from the what she wanted.
Finally, I really like how Jabaley shows that regardless of what people appear to be on the outside, they all have fears and doubts. Willow comes to see this most through her relationship with Mia. Although Mia seems to have the kind of life most high school girls would die for, Mia feels extreme pressure to be the best in everything she does. Deep down she hates parts of her life and confides this to Willow. I felt sorry for Mia and it made me wonder how many of girls like Mia there are.
Crush Control is a humorous story that touches on some serious issues of peer and parental pressures. The romance is fun and the characters relatable and authentic. It is a quick read that will have you chuckling and shaking your head up until the end, which although fairly predictable was still quite satisfying.
Source: Received copy of Crush Control from publisher for review