Release Date: August 1, 2011
(Thank you to netGalley!)
Published by: Abrams
Misfit by Jon Skovron
Jael Thompson has never really fit in. She’s changed schools too many times to count. The only family she’s ever known is her father, a bitter ex-priest who never lets her date and insists she attend the strictest Catholic school in Seattle. And her mother—well, she was a five thousand year old demon. That doesn’t exactly help.
But on her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a present that brings about some unexpected changes. Some of the changes, like strange and wonderful powers and the cute skater boy with a knack for science, are awesome. But others, like the homicidal demon seeking revenge on her family? Not so much.
Steeped in mythology, this is an epic tale of a heroine who balances old world with new, science with magic, and the terrifying depths of the underworld with the ordinary halls of high school.
1. (+) Jael, the protagonist - A strong female protagonist coming into herself. It's hard not to sympathize with Jael when you see the sort of relationship she has with her father and how lonely she is after all the years of them moving around. She's also got a lot of snark and is pretty loyal and brave.
2. (+) World-building - My absolute favorite part of this book. Why? Because the world Mr. Skovron creates is so incredibly open. What does it mean to be a demon? A god? What's Hell like? Heaven? Does it exist? Are the boundaries between good and evil that defined? Do your beliefs sway your actions or is it the other way around? But it's more than all the questions that float around--he establishes what his version of Hell is and what demon powers entail and what their limits are. I am also extremely glad that I took a Bible literature course because I feel like I appreciate the extra effort Mr. Skovron must have put into creating all these little details. The names of the characters for one, and the power laden in them, the past coming to life.... (As a side note, no, you don't need to be familiar with the Bible; it made me happy though to recognize Dagon, Astarte/Ashtoreth, Samson, etc.)
3. (+) Other Characters - A lot of the characters were complex and developed well. I particularly enjoyed reading about the relationship Jael has with her father and how that evolves over time. Mr. Skovron really uses his character's pasts to show how layered they are. Even Jael's teachers have things to hide. My least favorite though was Britt, her best friend. That's not to say that Britt isn't complex--she definitely acts one way on the outside and has so much more on the inside--but she's just so selfish and her choices irritated me.
4. (+) The Romance - I once said to my friends that I thought that the sexiest thing was seeing a guy's passionate side come out. Pretty much as soon as I read Rob rambling on to Jael about how science and magic aren't all that different, I liked him as a romantic interest (though when I read skater-boy in the summary, I didn't think I would like him). I like that he and Jael establish a tenuous friendship of sorts before Jael gets her demon powers. And I like that this romance wasn't too overpowering; it was on the side, and their banter is easy and free. I would've liked to know more about Rob, but I think that there will be more books and hopefully they'll include more background on him.
5. (+) Mix of Past & Present - Sometimes there were alternating chapters of past and present. At first, I wondered if the book was going to be a multi-perspective one, but then it got cleared up--Jael sees visions of the past with her father and mother: how they met, what they did before her mom got pregnant with her, etc. I really liked that Mr. Skovron added in the past because it not only made his characters more complex but it also showed Jael a taste of what her own powers would be like once she embraced them.
6. (+/-) The Writing - The negative aspect to this stems from my personal preference. I deeply dislike third person present perspectives, and there is very little that can sway me from that path because they always feel too jarring and remind me that I'm just reading about the protagonist rather than experiencing things with her. But, at the same time, it's unfair of me to immediately dismiss the writing because of that so I'd like to call attention to certain aspects I did enjoy. For instance, the descriptions were nice, never too lengthy and rather ripe with imagery. And the dialogue just flowed from page to page--that was probably the best part. It broke up the disjointed feel that I got from third person present and sucked me into Jael's world.
7. (+) Complete - No cliffhanger ending. You know who the villain is, you know Jael will face him off, etc. etc. - the novel felt complete, and these types are always my favorite because you can still tell that there is potential for a sequel. I can appreciate the symmetry of it all too. At the end, she's embracing her powers while at the beginning, she's struggling with her hair, a relic from her mother and the side of herself she doesn't yet know or understand. I like that the book had that full cycle since the core of it is truly about Jael coming into herself.
8. (+/-) The Villain - I'm conflicted as to how I felt about this. On one hand, you know who the villain is and feel his threat early on, especially after seeing visions from the past... but on the other, it's hard to think that Jael is in any real trouble when you see the magnitude of her powers coming to light. I also would have really liked to understand the villain more. Was there something in his past that provoked the hatred of half-breeds? The power play and purity argument felt a little unexplored.
9. (+) Pacing - There wasn't a single time I stopped reading. The tension keeps climbing and the climax pays off at the end so I'd say it was pretty evenly paced.
10. (+) The Cover/Grunge Design Inside - I like the simplicity of the cover. The colors are really symbolic and balance each other nicely. The curly text looks nice... and the inside of the book! Well, I wished that I had not been reading an e-galley. I'm not usually a fan of the designs inside books (sometimes they get so girly! and irritating!) but I really liked the grunge-y feel to this one. I wonder if they'll print it on special paper too, sort of like Andrea Cremer's Nightshade and the torn-edge papers.
Misfit has a well-established and extremely captivating fantasy world full of surprises that are sure to entertain. (Because really, who would have ever expected a character to say, "are you jealous of a telepathic goat?")