Author: Jon Skovron. Release date: 2011. Publisher: Amulet Books. ISBN: 9781419700217.
Personal thoughts: I wasn’t overly excited about reading this novel, but once I started it I was surprised to find how much I liked it. It really is easy-to-read and the characters are all likable and not over-done. I liked how the author included a lot of mythology and theology in the plot as well. Overall, this novel is simply difficult to not enjoy.
Plot summary: Jael Thompson has known since she was eight-years-old that she is half mortal, half demon. Her father, a Catholic professor of religion, fell in love with her mother, an ancient and beautiful succubus named Astarte. Shortly after Jael was born, Astarte was killed by an evil demon named Belial, and Jael’s father has told her very little about her mother. Now Jael is fifteen and wondering more than ever what Astarte was like and how being half demon is anything but a burden. Constantly pursued by Belial, Jael and her father have spent their lives on the run, moving from place-to-place. Now in Seattle, Jael is finally making friends and even has a boyfriend, a geeky skater named Rob. On the night of her sixteenth birthday, Jael’s father gives her a strange gift: a beautiful amulet that her mother left her. But this amulet is more than just a necklace: it contains Jael’s demon half. Once Jael reincorporates this part of herself into her body, she begins developing extraordinary supernatural powers. But the presence of the new demon power attracts the attention of Belial, who now knows where Jael is hiding and is coming to destroy her and everything she loves.
Review: This breezily paced and entertaining novel forms a very promising start to an enjoyable new series for young adults. Demons are a commonplace character in teen paranormal fiction, but Skovron manages to keep the genre fresh with an original storyline. The novel is full of flashbacks that explain Jael’s beginnings, from how her parents met, to their days fighting rogue demons, to her mother’s sacrificing her life for her. The story also manages to delve into the topics of Catholicism, religion and faith to some degree, which isn’t often broached in this genre. The support characters, including Jael’s math obsessed, skater boyfriend and her lovable, fish-shaped uncle Dagon add to the fun. Look for a sequel to this novel being released sometime in 2012.
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: Soul Screamers series by Sarah Vincent.
Themes: Demons, Hell, Catholicism, religion, murder, loss, father-daughter relationships, Seattle.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly.
Series Information: First novel in Misfit series by Jon Skovron.
- Much of the storyline in Misfit is told via flashback. How do you think flashbacks add to the novel? Do you think they are important in literature? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Jael’s father was so reluctant to talk to her about her mother? Do you think it was the right thing for him to do?
- Why was it so important to Belial to kill Jael?
- What would you like to see happen in the sequel?