Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Title: The Demon Trapper's Daughter
Author: Jana Oliver
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: February 1st, 2011
Pages: 340 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: through Amazon Vine.

Rebellious teen Demon Trapper Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself--and that's exactly what Lucifer is counting on.

It's the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Fortunately, humans are protected by trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night.

Riley has always dreamed of following in her father's demon-trapper footsteps. But when tragedy strikes and a top-level demon murders her dad, Riley finds herself in for a much more dangerous future than she ever could have imagined.

Review:

In 2018 Atlanta, the city and the United States as a whole is pretty much bankrupt, demons are everywhere, and trappers and hunters are hard at work to keep demons off the streets so they won't kill people or claim souls for Hell. Riley Blackthorne is a demon trapper apprentice, the first female demon trapper in Atlanta, and her dad is the infamous trapper Paul Blackthorne. She's got plans to get places in the city, even after Grade Five Geo-Fiend comes along and kills her dad. Now left to fend for herself, Riley's in danger. The demons know her and will do anything to get her. Beck, a good friend of Riley's father and her pseudo-guardian, is trying to help Riley survive and stay safe, but she's not having any of it.

Going into this book, my expectations were low. For no reason at all, I read the acknowledgements and found two people being thanked for helping the author with her book: PC and Kristin Cast (the latter of whom apparently helped fine-tune some of the dialogue). I believe them to be below-average writers, and the thought of those two having a hand in a book with so much promise in its premise, led to me making a face like this:


(Except with longer hair, not naked, and without ducks.)

Thankfully, I saw very little influence from the Casts within the novel. Overall, The Demon Trapper's Daughter was a fun book and just on itself a new fan, most likely for the entire trilogy.

Riley was a tough girl and I came to find myself caring about her after the first few pages. I had to put my book down during the funeral scene because I just couldn't bear to see her and Beck going through that right after reading about how Paul died. Her actions were not always smart, but she tried to do what she thought was best. Even better, there was less angsting than expected. Despite her father's death, Riley did not let the grief take over. She had to make money and keep going, after all.

The romance also managed not to take over the book. Riley has three dudes around her that look like romantic interests: Beck, former crush and aforementioned pseudo-guardian; Simon, a very religious trapper; and the mysterious Ori, who does not show up until about three-fourths of the way through the book. With this many guys, romance drawing attention away from the plot could be so easy. Thank God it didn't happen! I had a few complaints about how quickly and unbelievably her relationship with Simon developed, but considering what could have happened, I'm okay with that. I'm sure it won't last anyways.

The narrative voices of both Riley and Beck, our constantly switching narrators, were both entertaining and easy to read. They sounded very similar, but I'll excuse this because the book was in third person, not first. If it had been in first person, that would be a pretty bad flaw. Sarcastic narrators are like kittens for me: I love them and want to cuddle the no matter how much they try to protest. The demons running around, both large and tall, were so much fun or very terrifying, depending on what level they were. I had a soft spot for a little demonic thief living in Riley's apartment. Speaking of that Klepto-Fiend, what happened to it? Is it still living in her apartment? I missed it.

For the first hundred pages, the pacing is almost dead slow. Her dad dying, staying at his grave every night to keep the summoners/necromancers from getting him, etc. Pretty boring. And I kept asking, "Hello? Does anyone remember how demons are calling Riley 'Blackthorne's daughter' every time they see her? Not even you care, Riley? This is really bad, you know! You should tell some people what's going on because maybe they'll know." It takes until page 260 (out of 340) before someone finally hears about it and bothers getting worried, and it isn't Riley. Methinks that girl had a few touches of Too Stupid to Live at times.

Even by the end of the novel, people are only just starting to pay attention to the fact that hey! Demons are after Riley and know who she is! This might be a really bad, really important thing! How little attention this BIG thing gets was so frustrating!

I felt a little annoyed that poor Beck, who told just as much of this story as Riley did, was never advertised as the co-protagonist, which he most definitely was. This guy, excuse the pun, went through hell in this book! Give him some credit where credit is due, blurb writer. His dialogue, specifically the way "you" was replaced with "ya" and "your" was "yer" every time, killed me. All the author needs to do is mention sometimes that he's got a Southern accent. There's no need to literally spell it out; for many readers, this is a huge pet peeve. The dialogue of some of Riley's classmates was also over-the-top stereotypical. I'm still in high school and I swear, girls are more intelligent than this. They do coo over hot dudes on TV, but not as badly as these fictional girls do.

If pacing had been evened out, the big thing hadn't been made such a little thing, and the dialogue hadn't made me want to gag myself sometimes, this book would have been perfect. Despite having three guys interested in her, Riley didn't let romance take over her story and I like that. However, I'm a little scared that it's going to do that in the next novel. I'm sticking around for this whole trilogy and if you think it sounds like your kind of book, go for The Demon Trapper's Daughter.

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Flecks of Gold by Alicia Buck