Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.
High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.
It’s almost October which means I’m in the mood for some paranormal YA.
The only thing is while paranormal romance was the big on trend back when I was in the targeted age of YA, it has really faded away. Which is good. Because there was a lot of crap out there in the late 00’s. HOWEVER, while you think that newer paranormal YA books would have a tough bar to overcome. The shit’s still getting published. When Life Gives You Demons is one of these books.
Full Disclosure: My favorite YA series is Meg Cabot’s The Mediator (read my Reread feature on it if you want to know why). It has been my favorite series since I was a teen and it’s still my favorite series since I first read it fifteen or so year ago. So, when I’m looking at paranormal YA that’s my gold standard. Nothing really ever meets it, especially When Life Gives You Demons.
Also full disclosure, this book is published by my “favorite” imprint. That should’ve been my other clue. I swear Swoon Reads likes to tease me with their interesting premises and then fuck with me with their execution. It is, so, awful.
I ended up DNF’ing this book for several reasons. I made it to roughly 100 pages in, which I think is far enough to know I wasn’t amused by any means. The set up just seemed very forced and it didn’t help that the MC was the last person you’d expect to be a teenage exorcist.
Plus, I took a sneak peak at the end and everything was resolved as I expected which was just ridiculous. I shouldn’t be able to guess the big twist (and yeah, what I guessed was the twist).
Part of my problem with this book was the MC. She is ridiculously immature. I get that she’s only seventeen (I think, it might’ve been fifteen, I forget) but she is an exorcist and she’s been exposed to a lot of things. That being said, you’d think she’d be a little more responsible and grounded than your typical teenage protagonist. It can be done. God, I hate that I’m constantly referencing it in my review-seems a bit unfair-but in The Mediator, Suze sounded like a teen but at the same time she’s a confidant spirit guide and knows how to pull off one hell of a Brazilian exorcism.
Shelby, on the other hand, can’t even mumble a few Latin words correctly.
She is pathetic.
Also, the demon mystery in this one was sort of lame.
Yes, really, lame. In the first 100 pages there really wasn’t that much build up to it either just two random cases. One was the opening exorcism scene which was relatively dull, and the next was the random moody teenager who plays video games who must be possessed (but not).
There’s also a very boring and dull love interest, who needed to be possessed to be mildly interesting because boy was he dull. Seriously, the interaction between him and the stupid MC is him helping her with her Geometry homework.
I was thoroughly bored with this one. Which is the last thing I should think about a book full of demons.
Maybe I’m wanting too much with my YA paranormal. I read another book this weekend and the experience of that book was almost eerily similar to this one. The only difference was, that one was marginally better where I could finish the book. This one not so much. Regardless, I’ll just have to get my paranormal thrill by watching bad reality shows on TV and rereading The Mediator.
Overall Rating: DNF