The cover of CROSSINGS implies that Xander and Anya will be the novel's main characters, but in truth Pocket Books' shot selection is a bit arbitary and almost any of the regulars could have been used.
To be honest, that's probably one of the reasons why the novel didn't really work for me. There are an awful lot of regular characters to fit in - Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Giles, Tara, Anya and Spike - as well as a plot and original characters, and only 240 pages to do it in.
Apart from this clutter, the usual Pocket Books' problem of continuity with the TV series crops up. Whilst it good to see them finally catching the television series up (CROSSINGS is set in the second half of season five, more specifically after THE BODY), the limitations imposed upon the writers - no mention of the season's big bad and nothing major can happen to the characters - often means that the novels don't fit in with the stories they're supposed to take place around.
As someone who felt season five was sometimes badly paced and disjointed, this is perhaps less of a problem than with, say, the first three seasons, and the events of THE BODY are referred to throughout the book (it presumably takes place after FOREVER but before the end of season arc kicked in with Intervention). However, the lack of feeling that the Scooby Gang are up against a god did still feel a little strange.
The plot itself didn't really keep my interest, even though the novel is quite easy to read. One of Xander's videogaming friends goes psycho while Xander and Anya are watching a STAR TREK marathon, and it turns out that the people using them as guinea pigs aren't exactly normal. Well, quelle surprise...
My main problem is that the novel's original characters just weren't interesting enough and there were far too many fight scenes that didn't really work that well. On the plus side, there were a few good lines and Anya wasn't used as the one trick pony she has been in the past, but overall it didn't feel anything special. BACK TO THE TOP