Author: Jon Skovron
Imprint: Amulet Books
Pub Date: 08/01/2011
Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Misfit is awesome. Don’t miss this it. It has everything I want in a book, great characters, an interesting well written imaginative story, action, mystery, a touch of love and, most fabulous, thought provoking.
Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict-but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.
Jael is instantly likeable and the supporting characters come alive from the first moment that they’re introduced. They’re all believable and very real, as are the relationships between them, and there is a touch of mystery about her father, the priests and the love interest that makes us want to know more about them. Both Jael and her father’s character develop beautifully through the book. While she discovers her heritage, her power and how to use it, he – a teacher and an ex-priest who used to hunt demons with his demon wife – comes to accept the inevitability of her claiming her demon side and the extent of her power. He changes from a remote man trying to hold her back to a warmer more relaxed person who helps her claim her birthright.
The basic idea of a teen discovering who they are and finding and mastering their inner power is not new to the young adult genre, in fact we see it all the time, and that’s because it’s a classic theme particularly relevant to teens. What is important with classical themes is that they’re done in a fresh way each time and this is definitely one of those books. Yes, we’ve seen kids who are half some supernatural creature before, that’s not new either. What makes this book different is the other narrative strand showing her parent’s story and the way the author turns our preconceptions of demons, hell and the nature of belief on its head.
Astarte and Paul’s story of ‘cross-cultural’ love and sacrifice is as important as Jael’s to the book and it’s wound beautifully into the story when, with the help of a talisman, Jael sees the events as if she’s watching them. Jael goes to a Catholic school and out of that setting and the background of her father come questions of the role of belief in religion, the nature of that belief and even the reasons why people believe what they do. This is all done without a smidgeon of preaching or dogma. The story shows us that what we believe can be completely wrong, that even within the same religion people have different beliefs and understanding of reality, that the names of all religions have power and that ignorance breeds prejudice – in this case against demons.
The only thing I didn’t like was the degree of Belial’s sadism. His horrific actions and threats destroyed my enjoyment of the book at those points. I wish there was less of it or that it was toned down a notch or two. It’s the one thing prevents me from wanting to tell my daughter and students at school that it’s a book they must read. I didn’t think the story of Samson and Delilah was entirely necessary, and did Jael’s best friend really have to keep banging her head on the concrete? Did her mother really have to sandpaper her face? Even so, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss reading this one just because someone told me there was a particularly nasty bit in it. I’m sure that it won’t bother others, but I’m not a fan of horror.
I give it 5 stars and recommend it for all fantasy lovers except those who don’t like an element of horror. Anyone who likes books with links to western demon lore and ancient stories should enjoy this.