Misfit in the YA genre…

… but I am so very glad!  Misfit, by Jon Skovron, is a stand-out in the YA genre.  Why?  Because it’s not the same old “there’s something that makes me different, so I can never be with you, but oooooohhhhhhh I need to be with you, and there is something magic/supernatural keeping us apart and miserable.  Oh, and by the way, one of us has wicked superpowers of some kind or is immortal and we need to figure out a way to fix one or both of us so we can be together.”  This is a story about someone who is different, and has some awesome superpowers, but it doesn’t follow the Twilight/Immortals/Blue Bloods/House of Night (etc, etc, etc…. ‘cuz that list could go on forever!) formula.  And that’s wonderful!  It was such a refreshing take on the supernatural teenager.  And a wonderfully refreshing take (and much more healthy take, I think) on a teen who is different, and her relationship with a boy her own age.  It was a great story, with some action, demons, exorcisms, funny scale covered uncles… it had everything a great book needs!

The summary of the plot:  Jael is different then the teenagers her age.  And she knows it.  She knows it’s because she’s half demon.  While she doesn’t really know anything about her mom, she knows that mom was a demon.  Jael and her father, who is an ex-preiest turned exorcist turned high school religion teacher, have moved around all her life.  She’s never really stayed put anywhere.  And her relationship with her father is strained.  He’s distant, strict and was utterly in love with Jael’s mom.  One Jael’s 16th birthday, he lives up to a promise he made to Astarte (mom) and gives Jael a necklace.  We learn that there is more to the necklace when dad resoundingly tells Jael she can’t wear it.  But… we all know, that she’s going to end up with it on.  And that releases something.  I will keep this review spoiler free, but it puts Jael in danger.  She needs to learn how to harness her demon side, with help from Dagon (her uncle), her dad, and even a little from Rob.  And, she needs to battle Baal (one of the Arch Dukes of Hell).  She learns about her past, her mother, her father’s relationship with her mother, and where a half-demon fits into the Grand Scheme.  How does it end?  Read it and find out!

Since I am staying spoiler free in this review, all I will say about the end is this:  the conclusion was satisfying and yet there is room for a few more books (don’t know if there will be more or not).  But, I feel like this should be just the start.  And that would be wonderful, since there was much more to the plot then the normal serial starter (where normally it’s light on plot but heavy on character introduction).

The cast of supporting characters are well written, easy to love (or hate), and support the story – they don’t overwhelm it or overtake it.  And they give Jael wonderful depth as you get to know them and their relationship with or to Jael.  Dagon, as her demon Uncle is funny and powerful (and it’s funny that he’s Hell’s baker!); skater Rob is caring and empowers Jael he doesn’t try to hold her back or influence her (this is the perfect “boyfriend” model that all authors should strive to write) but he very much tries to be her equal and to let Jael shine; Britt is malleable, gullible, and easy to influence, yet the reader can’t help but feel for her (like when, in a dark moment, she realizes she isn’t supportive enough to her friend and while even then she chooses the wrong way to try to help Jael you can see she does it with good intentions) and its very easy to see how she was under the influence of something out of her control; the bad guys are mean and bad and scary because you can see how easily Jack and his evil can influence those around him; and Paul (Jael’s dad), well, the first impression of this awful dictator father are so easily shattered with the back story we get as the book progresses and it’s plain to see how much he loves his daughter.

This is so unlike the start of series in this genre.  It’s also very unlike the stand-alones in the YA genre too.  The heroine so often in this genre is given the privilege of being the heroine, but she can’t ever succeed without her soul-mate.  And so often, I think that these authors are going to create the case for congress to revoke women’s right to vote they create such weaklings and whiney annoying superficial women as the “heroines”.  Not that I need a militant pro-feminist view either, but it’s really nice to see the heroine be able to stand on her own and be a strong person without thinking she’s going to die an instant and terrible death if she is for one moment in time separated from the shallow yet ever so hunky boyfriend.

It’s also very different since these days the trend is to be vampire or werewolf, or even fallen angels.  It’s rare to see a demon/demoness and to see the idea that demons can be good – or for the greater good.  I see that a lot in the PNR category, but not the YA.  And, again, it’s a refreshing change.  This opens up the same sort of opportunity to explore the christian mythology that the fallen angels stories do, but it didn’t feel as preachy as some of the fallen angel stuff in this category.  And that’s despite what I though was a gut-wrenching exorcism scene and all the catholic school stuff that went along with the setting.

We get a lot in this book from flashback – so that is something the reader needs to be ok with.  And there is one flash back that was a little out of place and wasn’t framed as a flashback the way the others were, but they add to the story at just the right times.  I didn’t feel like they were teasing me or setting me up for something and a wast of time – they were instantly gratifying from a plot perspective.  That too is different and a welcome change.  Too many YA authors are trying to hold back too much and its discouraging as a reader; it’s hard to continue reading when you feel like you aren’t getting any plot advancements in return.  That is NOT the case here!  Thank goodness!

I certainly hope that Misfit won’t be a misfit long – I thoroughly hope that there will be a sequel (or two) to sit next to it on the shelves in the near future.

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