Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Possess
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Pages: 384 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought and read it on my Kindle

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.


Growing up is hard enough as it is after the murder of her father a year ago, but Bridget Liu has an extra problem on top of that: she's an exorcist that can hear demons. A warning given to her by a demon during her first exorcism sets her on edge; could the demons be lying as Monsignor Renault has taught her they do or are they really trying to get a message across? More messages, all along the lines that something is coming and she must beware, lead her to a horrible discovery: someone is going to attempt to summon the demon king Amaymon and someone close to Bridget may becomes his vessel.

While I loved Bridget and her sense of humor (and that she was POC because we need more great POC heroines--winkwinkwinknudgenudgenudge), I wasn't keen on any of the other characters, particularly Matt and Alexa. Matt didn't quite win my approval as Bridget's love interest; I thought he was a little condescending and pushy. Possess showed such promise and this is why is made me very sad that Alexa's character had to be that of a stereotype mean girl and she had to be shamed for having sex and enjoying it. She will no doubt play a bigger role in the sequel (tentatively scheduled for fall 2013) and I can only hope she will be given more depth then.

The exorcism element of the novel was fantastic and McNeil wrote some very good and very, very creepy scenes. If only some of the scenes I wrote could turn out as well as the scene in the doll shop! The mythology got more right than most angel/demon/etc. books currently published and popular. A few things were off about it, though, and I'll excuse those for the sake of creative license. Liberties get taken sometimes.(And Kira darling, if you ever read this: The book gives credit to Semyaza as leader of the Watchers. For serious. It's a one-line thing, but it's better than some books do, right?)

The book positively flew by thanks to great pacing, smooth writing, and how overall enjoyable it was despite the little issues I had with it. I devoured large chunks of the book in single sittings and had the book finished in about three days. There were a few plot-related stumbles that really through me out of the groove, though. One was a plot point about another character that was brought up around halfway through the book, completely forgotten about, and only brought up again in the final chapter. Then Matt and Bridget are searching her house for the key to stopping Amaymon from coming and what do they have? A makeout break! Just as bad as the sex breaks of adult books but with fewer pages consumed and less sex (usually).

Now that all the set-up work is done and readers are familiar with the mythology of the world, I look forward to seeing where the sequel can take us. Definitely recommended (unless shaming girls for having sex makes you spazz out in the bad way, in which case proceed with caution)!

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Swear by Nina Malkin