Annotation: Seventeen-year-old Sasha Annenkova is shocked to learn that she is Anabo: a daughter of Eve, and a pure spirit who cannot be tempted by sin. After she meets Ajax DeKyanos, a son of Hell, she discovers that her role as an Anabo plays an important part in the fight against Eryx, who seeks to overthrow Lucifer and create Hell on Earth.
Personal thoughts: Wow. It’s not very often that I really dislike a book, but I’m sorry to say that I really disliked this book. It was just so odd, and I kept waiting for it to improve but it never did. The quasi-dual-narration between Sasha and Jax was odd, the backstory was incredibly convoluted, and the storyline was strangely violent/sexually charged. It was like a novel that was meant for an adult audience, but was watered down (unsuccessfully) to pass as young adult. I would have a whole lot of trouble recommending this book to a teen, especially since there is nothing about the plot that is enjoyable enough to make navigating through all the terrible things that happen to Sasha worthwhile. Sorry!
Plot summary: Seventeen-year-old Sasha Annenkova wants nothing more than to learn the truth behind her father’s murder in Russia years earlier. When a group of students at her Oakland high school tell her of a club called the Ravens, a group that pledges to give up God and serve Eryx in exchange for being granted whatever they want, she jumps at the chance to discover what really happened to her father. At the Ravens meeting she is shocked, however, when they inform her that she is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, pure and un-tempted by sin, with the power to destroy Eryx. The Ravens have lured her to their secret location to kill her, ending the threat she poses to the one they serve, and they almost succeed until she is rescued by Ajax DeKyanos. Ajax, or Jax, informs her that he is Mephisto, a son of the dark angel Mephistopholes, as are his brothers, including the oldest, Eryx. Thousands of years earlier, Jax and his brothers were promised by God that if they found an Anabo and were able to make her love them, they would be redeemed and able to worthy of heaven, fulfilling the Mephisto Covenant. Eryx, however, chose to seek power, and is attempting to recruit souls to help him overthrow Lucifer, creating Hell on Earth. Jax immediately falls in love with Sasha, but, although she is attracted to him, Sasha isn’t sure that she can love a son of Hell. As the threat from Eryx grows, will Jax be able to achieve the redemption he has sought for thousands of years?
Review: Convoluted, schizophrenic and, at times, just plain silly, this first installment in a new paranormal series of young adults is difficult to recommend to any reader for several reasons. Although there is some interesting concepts in the book (the idea of the Mephisto Covenant, the importance of the daughters of Eve, etc.), so much of the novel is downright strange, making it hard to get through all 434 pages. To begin with, the novel opens with the main character getting stoned. Not stoned in the sense of recreational drugs, but with actual stones being thrown at her in an attempt to quell her Anabo spirit. Readers should be warned from this initial curious incident that they are in for something unsettling, but the novel continues to plow forward into the uncomfortable. Events in the book include but are not limited to attempted rape, physical assault, murder, molestation, torture by hot poker, and an incredibly graphic sex scene for a young adult book. There are also so many references to breasts in the novel, it’s almost laughable. Every chapter seems to mention breasts, something that would be okay if done in the right context, but is so strange in this novel that it becomes funny. Overall, it’s nearly impossible to recommend this book to any teen reader, even those who are die-hard paranormal romance fans. The sequel, The Mephisto Kiss, is set to be released in September 2012. Hopefully it will improve upon the absurdity of the first novel.
Reading level: Grade 9+
Similar titles: A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Misfit by Jon Skovron, The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff.
Themes: Heaven, Hell, the Bible, sin, betrayal, redemption.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from authors P.C. Cast and Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Series Information: First book in Mephisto series. Second novel, The Mephisto Kiss, set to be released in September 2012.
Discussion questions:- If you had a chance to join the Ravens and get whatever you wanted, would you? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Sasha had trouble completely falling for Jax?
- Why do you think Melanie hated Sasha’s father so much?
- Would you say that this novel is "Christian fiction"? Why or why not?
- Did you enjoy this novel? Do you plan to read the sequel? Why or why not?