Brownbetty's Reviews > The Devil Inside

The Devil Inside by Jenna Black
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Jan 30, 2009

it was ok
Read in January, 2009

I find the first-person girl-demon-hunter genre increasingly baffling. Why is it always in first-person? Why is the romance so formulaic? Why do I keep on reading it? This entry in the genre doesn't really answer any of those questions, but kept me reading it in search of the answer to a new question: “How is this book so fail?”

Several specific sorts of fail aside, it's not a bad book of its sort, if its the sort of thing you like. Androgynously-named Girl is an exorcist in a world where demon possession is legal, if done with the host's consent, and the concomitant crime keeps her fairly busy. It's an interesting world, and Black has put a lot of thought into the social implications, and even the religions that grow up around demons.

When I say fail, I'm making some assumptions about what the book is attempting to achieve (and what it fails at.) I'm assuming it's intending to be soft-core erotica, and as such, that it intends to be erotic to its target audience of presumptively heterosexual women. Why, then, does the narrator persistently tell me how sexy she is? The effect is a bit like she is a phone-sex-worker, assuring you she is sexy, sexually aroused, and performing sex-acts, but without any heavy breathing which might add plausibility. Even if this were an interest of het women, someone who seems more interested in how hot they are than in their partner is sort of off-putting. She seems to feel there is something thrillingly transgressive in her interest in sex, and willingness to perform oral. While I am certainly not against women enjoying sex, this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for hot smut.

And there is a lot of smut to no purpose; the scene may function so that the reader can see Androgynously-named Girl skip out on the morning after, demonstrating her commitment issues, but I don't really need to sit through the bad-sex for that. It seems to be operating under the misapprehension that there is something inherently erotic in a listing of sex acts, or that merely telling the reader that something is sexy is sufficient to produce that effect.

At the same time as she is informing the reader that she is sexually adventurous, this seems to consist primarily in wearing low cut jeans that display a tattoo at the small of her back. She is first perturbed, then unwilling interested to observe physical affection between two men, who are certainly aware she is present and watching. She struggles with what this means about her. Um, hello, it means you are watching sexy men make out, this is not exactly some radical new kink.

And then there is the kink. The two sexy men mentioned above incorporate elements of sadism and masochism in their sex lives, and I'm being ridiculously over precise and yet vague because her narrative POV is useless for determining exactly what's going on. You see, Demons, once they posses a human host, can enable it to withstand and heal a great deal of damage, which is obviously relevant if your sex life includes pain. Androgynously-named Girl seems to be meant to learn a heart-warming lesson about kink, but she is reconciled to their relationship when she is told that the sadist of the pair, because he is a demon, is not really a sadist, in human terms, that is, he enjoys inflicting pain, but doesn't derive sexual pleasure (except, it later develops, that he does.) So their kink is okay, not because they're consenting adults who can make their own choices, but instead because he's a demon, who's not a psychopath (unlike, she seems to imply, anyone else who's a sexual sadist.) I'm oversimplifying, but really, the whole thing is a bit of an incoherent mess.

Oh, and there's a recurring theme where, in the course of her adventures, she'll get injured, or something, and worry that sadist boy is enjoying it, and do a visual check on his dick to determine where the mercury lies. It managed to be unintentionally funny pretty quickly.

There's a whole theme where she's possessed by a (naturally) sexy demon, who turns her on, about which she feels conflicted, etc, etc, but I was reading mostly in an effort to figure out wtf, and I couldn't really care too much about that.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Carolyn F. Amen! Good review.

Brownbetty Hah! Someone else who has read this book and can share my frustration! It's so incompetent!

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