Katya's Reviews > The Demon's Surrender

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
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's review
Jun 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, favorites, good-pnr, lgbtq, teen-lit, warm-cuddlies, the-ya-project
Read from June 11 to 12, 2011

June 9th? As in... next month?

*hyperventilates* I WAAAAANT!


Okay... I've been reviewing now for a little less than a year, and what I discovered may not shock you, but there are quite a few prejudices against certain authors out there. I'm not necessarily talking about prejudices against the author's books because of their opinions (OSC, for example, or Brandon Sanderson), but more about the genre they write in... or didn't write in.

Romance authors are usually the ones targeted most, although genre snobbery reaches horror (see: Stephen King's preface to The Sun Dog in Four Past Midnight) and YA fiction . The most recent example, of course, is the hype raised over the WSJ article which suggested YA normalizes things like rape or promiscuous sex or cutting or eating disorders. However, there is a special place in that hell of genre snobbery reserved for fanfiction writers.

A lot of naysayers believe that fanfiction is lesser because it takes a world/characters/plots and alters them, because the quality of the writing is sub par, and, of course, that prejudice follows some writers when they make the transition into "actual" publishing. Whether that is true or not is a whole different discussion, but this is revelant here because the author of these series, Sarah Rees Brennan, previously wrote Harry Potter fanfiction.

As somebody who gave up on HP nearly 9 years ago, it does say something that, after reading Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing... Rat? I finally decided to go back to the franchize. It's not just funny, it's inspired, and Brennan's ability to breathe so much life and energy into a story clearly shows, not only in that fic, but also in her "Demon's Lexicon" trilogy.

I'm not saying that the books are without problems, far from it. A lot of people might not like the writing (you can't have too many "said"), or the similes (although they're not as many in City of Bones for example). There're also the few plotholes that the attentive reader might stumble in. I don't deny that.

BUT... before I can even formulate any objections on the matter, my mind was simply blown away by the amount of awesome in this story! I'm not necessarily talking about plot either, although that is also quite good. Brennan just knows how to write damn cool and complex characters. Alan, for example, is the token nerdy guy but in reality, he isn't. Nick actually conveys malace through his disengagement, but does care deeply for those he holds dear. Even Seb is so delightfully awkward he appeals to my 'save-the-baby-bird' instinct.

Also, she writes amazing female characters. Mae is probably one of the few heroines in YA who can stand up for themselves. She's confident, acts without hesitation, and doesn't take shit from anyone, least of all from Nick. It takes a lot more than a few hot stares and a "You may not be so bad" from the bad boy to have her fall breathlessly into his arms.

Sin, or Cynthia, however, is the person around whom the book is centered, and who gets the most limelight. Her character is rather interesting: She's one of the Goblin Market dancers and is fierecely loyal to Merris, yet she's friends with Mae and the Reeves brothers even though most of the market distrusts them. She's beautiful and exotic, and it becomes clear early on that she uses those traits to her advantage. Right away, this can lead to controversy - after all, we live in an age of beauty myths and body issues and a media that uses female sexuality as its preferred marketing technique. It's rare in YA that such a character is portrayed in a positive light, but Brennan pulls it off. Yes, Sin uses her beauty to get what she wants, but she sets a clear boundry and she remains her own person.

One character I'd like to have seen more of would be Jamie. While he did get his fair share of limelight in the last two books, it's really in this one that he really develops, yet we see so little of him! It's not simply that he's an unending source of humor and charm, he's also one of the most psychologically complex characters there is. However, I do enjoy whatever scenes there are with him in this book, and I'm glad for how things turn up for him.

Another thing I like about the series as a whole: It's about love. Not the romantic kind, although there is that as well, but it's mostly about love for your family, for the people who have been with you through hell and are willing to go back in there if need be. Alan and Nick are the obvious example, as well as Mae and Jamie, but Sin, her siblings, and her father are also worth mentioning, not least because it shows a loving (if slightly strained) relationship between parents and children. It's an excellent message in a genre where parents are either absent for no good reason, or are constantly ignored and ridiculed by their children.

So, in short: The Demon's Surrender is an excellent finish to an imperfect, but lovely series. While not without its flaws, it is still one of the few YA books that blaze a trail for new, and hopefully better, stories, and I will be looking forward to what SRB writes next.
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Miss Clark Great review - Thank you:)

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