Monday, October 11, 2010

Review of Lisa Desrochers, Personal Demons

Personal Demons (Personal Demons, #1)Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book and read it quickly over the course of two days. Here are the things that stood out to me.

Things I enjoyed about this book:
--Starting with the basics: holy hot cover! Great, enticing, promising of a boiling hot love triangle full of all the supernatural elements I enjoy in a book
--Great premise: to me, it's somewhat more unique than just good and evil fight over an ordinary girl, because the girl's really not so ordinary--she has some major-league latent powers on the order of Moses and Hitler, and her influence on the world could be that big.
--Frannie's powers work for me in that she's not some weak, clumsy teenage girl the way so many YA heroines are.  She can hold her own against these guys, and against other demons who come to claim her. She even has the Archangel Michael quaking in his angelic boots.
--There's some good humor at spots--most of it comes out of Luc's mouth. His line about going over to her house with her Mom, Dad, and sisters Mary, Mary, Mary, and Mary left me laughing out loud (all her sisters' first names are Mary, so they go by their middle names).
--The author skillfully made the "evil" demon the most likeable character in the book.  Even when he was still working on behalf of the Big Guy Downstairs and attempting his evil agenda, he was likeable.
--The book is a good study in how to avoid info dumping at the beginning, as the author skillfully doles out backstory only when it's relevant to moving the plot forward.
--Sex is handled realistically and tactfully for the YA audience.

Things that could've been better:
--The love triangle never felt fully developed to me. Too many of the supposedly seductive scenes happened over English textbooks and lab reports (YA authors need to find a new way to get their characters together!). That Luc had her to himself in English and Gabe had her to himself in physics felt contrived and convenient. Too many of her interactions with either of them were motivated entirely around the fact that she had an English paper or a lab report due, and so Frannie HAD to see one or the other of them. That allowed the author to avoid creating real, meaningful motivation for their relationships to develop. For me, there was also too much back and forth on Frannie's part (including her making out with one in front of the other, which made her less likeable). I like the idea of her being torn, and the guys were certainly hot enough to justify it, but by the time Gabe enters the picture, her relationship with Luc is already in progress, and Gabe NEVER catches up, in my opinion. It just seems like, all of a sudden he's there and she's digging him but we don't really know why, given how much more she knows Luc. It never really seemed like a contest to me, though she kept insisting it was. Even Gabe seemed resigned pretty early.
--Point of view: a couple of things here. First, the alternating first person points of view took me a bit to get used to, but I did. But I'm not sure the voices were distinct enough to justify it. Luc's a 7000-year-old demon, yet he speaks very much like a regular teenage guy most of the time, and sometimes not even very teenage-guyish (commenting on the school secretary's neatly tucked in blouse and polyester pants--really?).
     An even bigger issue with the POVs is that Gabe doesn't get one. If ever there was a cue that one of the two guys wasn't as important, this was it. To me, his lack of POV, which I kept waiting for--by the way, was a complete giveaway that Gabe wasn't winning their contest over Frannie. It therefore took the tension out of the plot, out of that final "who will she pick" moment. The very structure of the book revealed the answer prematurely.
--Frannie's character development--While Luc had a more true character arc, Frannie didn't so much, for me. The big thing she has to do is forgive herself for a childhood accident she's made herself believe was her fault. Not only is this her "personal demon," but it's also the thing that prevents Gabe from "tagging" her soul for heaven. The resolution on this part of the plot rang hollow to me--she goes from "my fault, my fault, my fault" to "okay, all better now" when it finally HAS to happen.
     And, while his return had a nice emotional feel to it, her brother Matt being assigned as her guardian angel was a little convenient. Who gets everything they want? Frannie ends up with her brother's company in angelic form, the attention of not only the two supernaturals but quite a few other HHS guys, the guy she loves free from his demonhood (who she miraculously wills to good health after an attack), the power to fend off evil, the ability to maintain her own will against the angels, and still gets to go off to UCLA, with her boyfriend (who she can safely have sex with), in the fall. Frannie doesn't have to sacrifice anything, so it doesn't seem like enough is at stake.
--Additionally, about Frannie, most of the time when she chides herself for treating one or both of the guys unfairly, she's right. Even Frannie seems to acknowledge the moments when she's less likeable. And there are more than a few of them.

Definitely glad to have read and enjoyed. Those who enjoy YA paranormal romance will like this book.

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