Matt Guion's Reviews > Devilish

Devilish by Maureen Johnson
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Mar 20, 2012

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Read in May, 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Comedy

Synopsis: Jane Jarvis and Ally Concord are best friends who are pretty unpopular in their all-girl Catholic school. But then Ally gets a new little named Lanalee and begins to change, becoming more and more stylish and popular and all but forgetting about Jane. But Jane soon discovers that her friend sold her soul, and with the help of an awkward freshman named Owen, she must find a way to save her best friend’s soul . . . and her own.

Review: This book was . . . strange. Well, okay, it’s a Maureen Johnson novel, so you would expect it to be a little strange. But it was strange in its subject matter as well. This is Maureen Johnson’s fourth book, as well as the fourth I’ve read, and it’s definitely a departure from her previous work, which focused very much on relationships and the nature of human interaction. Her other novel were also rooted in the real world. Devilish is kind of like an early episode of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer meets one of the better sitcoms on Disney’s teen lineup. Which is to say that it was entertaining enough and I enjoyed reading it, but there wasn’t a whole lot of the substance I’ve come to expect from Johnson’s books. This was more of the lighthearted, silly side of Maureen.

I’ll admit to being a little disappointed, but my disappointment has really nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the story. I guess I was hoping for something a bit more creative and a bit less literal as far as actual the selling of the soul went. Nothing in the narrative really surprised me, though I was a little thrown by the sporadic romance between Owen and Jane that kind of came out of no where. One minute he’s her stalker, the next he says, “Oh, I’m your boyfriend now.” I guess actually asking her was out of the question? Honestly, there didn’t need to be a romance in this story, and I wish Johnson hadn’t tried to force one in there.

There are two really strong aspects of the story. The first is the strength of the friendship between Jane and Ally, which leads Jane to put herself in Ally’s place on a couple of different occasions. And the second is Ally’s former relationship with her ex-boyfriend and her realization that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Unfortunately, strong though these elements are, neither are really focused on enough for my taste. They both felt rushed. I never felt the friendship between Jane and Ally, nor did I get a sense of the relationship that used to exist between Jane and her ex.

In short, this is an unpretentiously silly novel. It’s entertaining and light. It doesn’t pretend to be something deep or profound, and in the end, it’s not. It’s worth one or two reads, but probably no more, and the whole thing is pretty forgettable. It won’t change your life, but it might make you laugh once or twice.

Worth rating: Worth borrowing
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