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Monday, October 16, 2017

YA Review: Personal Demons Series

I do series reviews now and then, and I enjoy them. It's also a really good way to go through certain books in my review pile. If you want to see more of those, you can click this link now that I've updated all of them so they have that label on them. (Past!Me, you're not helping here.)

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Published: September 14th, 2010 by Tor Teen
Genre: Paranormal YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 365 plus acknowledgments,
Part of a series? This is the first of the Personal Demons trilogy.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance--even her closest friends--and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions--for Hell--and she possesses a unique skill set that has the king of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he's as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn't stand a chance.

Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn't get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay...for all of them.

Review: This was something. It was a book! It was definitely a book. I wouldn't deny that it's a book. I read almost four hundred pages of it, so it was definitely a book. I just, you know, wouldn't say it was a very good book. Because honestly it was not very good. Now, to be fair, I think this is actually quite like the Dark Divine series where if I had read this in 2010 or 2011, I probably would have liked this a lot more. I liked Hush Hush at one point and I'm sure if I reread that today, I'd realize how wrong I was... sidenote, if you like Hush Hush you'd probably like this.

The problem is, I'm old and jaded now, and I have way less patience for things these days. The plot to this is next to non-existent, there's a buttload of not well done Instalove, the characters are just kind of boring and flat, it is really, really dated at times, it can be super cheesy, and the writing is not that good to carry all that.

There's one more thing I think I'm going to talk about in  the series review, but for now, that's about my thoughts. The book has no queer characters, maybe one character of colour but it's super hard to tell because the book doesn't really say, and like... just no diversity at all, to be honest. There's one formerly fat character and I'm just glad it doesn't come up much because I honestly found when it was talked about, it was terrible. Just all full of grossness. I'm going to keep reading because I have all three of these, but this one really didn't do much for me besides kind of annoy me.

I will say that I think it's different that it switches POVs between Luc and Frannie, and I liked Luc's voice a whole lot more than Frannie's, but I think that's actually somewhat overused. Three or four POV switches in each chapter is a little much. Two out of five roses, because it was at least kind of fun.

Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers

Published: July 5th, 2011 by Tor Teen
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 398 plus acknowledgements.
Part of a series? It's the second book in the trilogy.
Got via: Tor sent it to me for review consideration like eight years ago - to be fair, I didn't request it or anything. It just showed up one day. So I don't feel as bad that it's so late.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Luc Cain was born and raised in Hell, but he isn’t feeling as demonic as usual lately—thanks to Frannie Cavanaugh and the unique power she never realized she had. But you can’t desert Hell without consequences, and suddenly Frannie and Luc find themselves targeted by the same demons who used to be Luc’s allies.

Left with few options, Frannie and Luc accept the protection of Heaven and one of its most powerful angels, Gabe. Unfortunately, Luc isn’t the only one affected by Frannie, and it isn’t long before Gabe realizes that being around her is too…tempting. Rather than risk losing his wings, he leaves Frannie and Luc under the protection of her recently-acquired guardian angel.

Which would be fine, but Gabe is barely out the door before an assortment of demons appears—and they’re not leaving without dragging Luc back to Hell with them. Hell won’t give up and Heaven won’t give in. Frannie’s guardian exercises all the power he has to keep them away, but the demons are willing to hurt anyone close to Frannie in order to get what they want. It will take everything she has and then some to stay out of Hell’s grasp.

Review: Well, I'll give the book this - the writing in this is slightly better. There's less constant talk about how people smell and not nearly as much trying to be "cool" and "hip". However, I found most of the characters in this really flat if not straight up boring and unlikeable (and not intentionally unlikeable) and there were plot elements that I found straight up disgusting.

Let's go into that first, because it's my biggest problem. In this book, Luc is raped, and Frannie gets angry, says he cheated on her, and breaks up with him over it.

Yeah, no that's it. The book says things like "he was tricked into sex", but he's basically magically roofied. The character made him think she was Frannie with magic, and he barely remembers it afterwards. He didn't cheat, he was assaulted. He literally loses his humanity briefly because he was raped, and Frannie, even after she's had the same character put the magical roofie whammy on her, only says she "kinda" doesn't blame him and still says he cheated on her. That is probably the worst thing I've ever read in a book. His assult is entirely about Frannie and how bad she feels because he was raped.


Now maybe the book doesn't want to address this because it'd have to address how often it says that Frannie uses her "Sway" on her sexual/romantic partners. This, I remind you, is a magic power she has that makes it so she can influence people to do what she wants. She wants someone to leave the room, she thinks it really hard, they want to leave the room. She wants to have sex with someone, and she wants them to want her, and they do. And they literally say it's her "Sway" working on them, partly.

Book, do you understand consent? Do you understand that coersion during sex is bad? And that "but I can only make them do things they would want to do anyways" is not consent?

Sex in general in this book is really weird. There's a lot more sexual content but it feels super gratuitous and most of it, besides how perfect and special Frannie and Luc boning is going to be their "first time" (which is talked up a lot), is related to demons or evil in some way. Almost every single person we see or hear about having sex is either an actual demon or literally going to Hell. Because, you know, lust is a sin unless you're lusting after your boyfriend or the actual angel you have the hots for, or something. Also, Frannie has graduated high school and is going to be moving across the country soon, and her family is still weirdly invested in policing her sexuality. I just... the way sex is handled in this definitely projects a "sex is dirty and you should feel bad about it unless it's super special magical looooooove sex", you know?

Also this still has no queer people unless you count the literal succubus. Don't worry, though, because Frannie takes the time after the succubus almost assaults her to affirm that she's still StraightTM! I was really worried she might be queer! Also for some reason, it's not her fault she almost had sex with the succubus but it is Luc's.

The book has no fat rep and continues to be vaguely fatphobic whenever it can (apparently wearing a D-cup means you can't be fat - sorry, "heavy" - I'll tell my bra that when I take it off), and still lacks in diversity constantly. The music references still are super dated to the point of cheesiness, the lack of cell phones is really starting to show, there's random STD shaming, random body shaming, girl hate, girls who act like fourteen year olds instead of high school graduates, the plot still takes six years to actually plot and it's super weak when it does, the whole "psychic" thing is ignored for 330 pages and barely is used when it does come up, and the writing just can't carry it.

Sometimes Luc's voice is okay, but Matt and Frannie both annoy the crud out of me, and I think the rape plotline being called cheating is completely disgusting and ruined the book for me. Half a rose for Luc's voice now and then, and honestly I barely want to give it that.

Last Rite by Lisa Derochers

Published: May 8th, 2012 by Tor Teen
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 365 pages plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? This is the third and final book. No novellas or short stories that I know of, either.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In this final installment of the thrilling, edgy Personal Demons series, the battle between Heaven and Hell has become critical, and Frannie Cavanaugh is right at the center of it.

With the help of the powerful angel Gabe and demon-turned-mortal Luc, Frannie has been able to stay one step ahead of the forces of Hell. But when the demons killed Frannie's best friend and destroyed her brother, they raised the stakes. If Frannie wants to keep her family and friends safe, she knows she has no choice but to go on the run.

Their best defense is the power Frannie has been struggling to master, but her attempts to hone her skill go horribly awry. If Frannie doesn't learn fast, the consequences could be devastating--even apocalyptic.

What happens when you can't outrun Hell...or trust the ones you love?

Review: Well, this one starts with Frannie "kinda" realizing Luc might not actually be at fault for his own rape but still wondering if he might have wanted it.

Good start.

The thing about this one is that for the third book in the series, it's incredibly boring. Most of the book is angst and talking, angst and talking, angst and talking. The plot is very, very weak and it takes forever to actually show up. And, frankly, I thought the whole set-up of how the plot was resolved was pretty cheesy.

There were some plotholes/consistency errors from the last two books and some sloppy editing. I have like four notes of that, so that wasn't great in here. The divesrity is still absolutely terrible.

Honestly I don't have that much more to say. I just did not like this book at all. I was only offended by some parts of it, at least, but I was bored and annoyed by the rest. One rose out of five.

Series overview: I honestly was hoping to like this. I still do like this genre and I always want to enjoy the books I read, but this just did not work for me. The mythos honestly was depicted pretty goofily at times and it seems like this takes all the worst tropes of paranormal YA of 2009-2011 and combines them all. There were, now and then, a few things that I thought were a little unique, but they were just buried under so much awful that it's not worth it.

I wouldn't recommend these, sadly, unless you're like... my mom. I'm giving them to her before I return the library books because I think she'll enjoy them, but she's not a very critical reader, lol. I will give kudos for the covers for actually looking like the characters, but I also can't take them seriously because they're so melodramatic. And I honestly can't tell what's supposed to be going on with them, like what scene they're supposed to be.

That's about it, I think.

Peace and cookies,

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