Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Review: Demon's Surrender

Well this review has been a long time coming, I read the first book in this series sometime in early college and had such a hard time getting a hold of the later two that I even ended up reviewing some of the author's next series in the meantime. Admittedly I had rather mixed feelings on the first book ("but if I like the storytelling in her blog posts why don't I like her ACTUAL books?!") but I found that I enjoyed the second book more than the first and the first book in her new series even better. So I'm glad to finally finish this series, both for completeness sake and to see just where it's ended up.

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Reese Brennan

The Goblin Market as always stood opposite of the magicians, those who save people from demonic possession and those who use it for their own gain, but with recent shake-ups even this could change. Sin, who was raised in the market, is one of it's best dancers, and widely considered it's successor, doesn't want to to this and her opponent in succession, regular girl Mae whose brother has turned out to be a magician, agrees with her partially on this but no matter who becomes the leader they're going to have to fight to protect the people and the life they love.  

This has ended up being a very strange series in multiple ways which gives me mixed feelings on both this book and the story as a whole. To start with, while I do like the point of view character for this book, Sin, and like the other lead female character, Mae, extraordinarily well (I liked Sin much more than I expected and loved the not-quite-friends-yet-not-truly enemies relationship the two of them developed) but the other characters are perhaps too hard either sympathize with or understand. I do feel like Brennan had a bit of a misstep where the first book in the series was narrated by the character with the most alien worldview, I'm still trying to figure out if they were supposed to be completely inscrutable for the rest of the series or if that entire book was supposed to clue the readers in to what they were thinking most of the time.

Another way this book was strange was the overall structure to it. Real life is not like a novel, there isn't a clear progression from beginning to climax to end and this book seemed to mimic real life more closely than the traditional novel structure. It had long periods (both within the story and page wise) where no major events would occur, just character and relationship building, and then a barrage of events all at once, a drought or a flood. And again, I'm not sure if this helped the book or hurt it, there are conventions for style for a reason after all and combined with the characters I feel like it just made the story too uneven for me to fully enjoy it at times.

I said at times, does that mean I enjoyed the book more or less? Well, those long breaks between the books certainly didn't help, while I could remember the basics of the characters and their alliances (magicians are on one side, the Market/sort of kind of Mae plus the brothers) and yet seemed to have forgotten some key details (such as a couple of betrayals, oops). But once I caught up with those bits I did enjoy a lot of the story however, like I said, I ended up liking Sin's point of view much more than I expected, and Mae has grown into that "mundane person in a magical world who their thinking without their personality" which I love so much yet is oddly rare, and I liked seeing them suffer through their choices and figure out which ones they were comfortable about making. And in some ways this seems to be the most appropriate thing to say about the series, it was a story about several characters growing up and trying to change the world they were in in accordance with their changing morales as the story itself changed and became stronger as well.

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