Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
February 1, 2011; St. Martin's Griffin


Summary

Demon Trapper Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself—and that’s exactly what Lucifer is counting on…

It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night. Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I went into The Demon Trapper's Daughter with high hopes. It seemed like everyone raved about it. I came out of The Demon Trapper's Daughter disappointed. Not because it was a bad book, but because it didn't live up to the high bar I'd set for it.

Still, the book has a lot of positives. The story is told from the alternating points of view of (1) Riley: the only female demon-trapper apprentice and (2) Beck: The former apprentice of Riley's father who now looks out for Riley. Riley is a brave, funny, sassy girl. Like an early feminist, she has to prove she is stronger, tougher, and better than the guys to get any respect in the Demontrapper hierarchy. She has the inner strength to go for it. She idolizes her father, master demontrapper Paul Blackthorne. Beck left a troubled childhood for the military. Now a veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan, he is haunted by the past. He drinks hard and plays hard, but he also works hard in hopes of being half the demon-trapper that Paul Blackthorne is. He is a crazy guy but when you looked through he is you could see his genuine and hard-working nature. The alternating point of view is fabulous. It's one of my favorite literary tricks. Jana Oliver creates two very different characters who allow us to see different sides of the plot as well as the demon trapper world.

What kept me from liking Riley was how she treated Beck. She was cruel to him. No matter what he did, she constantly assumed the worst of him. The poor guy couldn't get a break. I understand why she felt the way she did. She was nursing a broken pride after Beck shot down a schoolgirl crush. But you have to grow up some time, and Riley refused to get past her preconceived notion of Beck. It was particularly frustrating, because the reader could see Beck's good intentions perfectly clearly. It nearly ruined the book for me.

(One other petty complaint, I hated that Beck said "ya" instead of "you." I get that dialect establishes voice, but I hate the use of dialect in novels. I don't know why. Probably for the same reason that I hate bananas when everyone else loves them. Personal preference.)

I also disliked Simon, Riley's crush. Uber religious and saintly, Simon fell flat. Other than being cute and capable, I didn't see what Riley liked about him. He certainly didn't have the loveable rough edges of Beck, who far better fits Riley's personality. However, I did see glimpses of hope that Simon will be a more full fledged character in later books.

Back on the positive, I loved the demon trapper world-building. You had the basic mythology of Heaven and Hell, complete with angels and demons. The demons are fascinating creatures. They ranged from pests that were so innocuous that you wanted them as pets to utterly evil creatures set upon destroying the world. The methods to destroy the demons are varied and well-described. Plus, I loved the culture of the demon-trappers. The long-standing tradition and the hierarchy of apprentice through master. The world was described fully enough that you almost forget it's not true.

The story is also full of action. It is appropriate that I read most of this book standing in lines at Disneyland, because the first chapter drops you off a high ledge and you alternate between holding on for dear life and raising your hands in the air screaming in excitement. The book moves very quickly as Riley and Beck go from one danger to another. No character is safe from harm, either physical or mental.

The Demon Trapper's Daughter is an exciting read with a well-developed fantasy world. I would have loved the book if only I liked Riley better. I'm curious to see where the series goes and may continue with it.

Rating: 3 / 5

15 comments:

  1. Wow! Intriguing cover! I am glad you have enjoyed it..sounds like I would like it too. :)

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  2. Sounds like a great plot, but I'm so into character driven stories that if I think I won't connect with the main character I feel less enthused about picking it up. Great review.

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  3. I totally want more of Beck and Riley. I really liked this first one, probably a bit more than you, but the sequel let me down because of some of the minor issues I had in this one. They seemed amplified in book two...

    I noticed that you have Kimi ni Todoke on your shelf and I was just wondering how the manga is. LOOOOOOVED the anime. My whole family does, actually, but I've always wondered if I should buy the books...?

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  4. I've been having a hard time with Ya lately, and I think all the hype around so many books did it for me. I expected so much out of each book, and they started to fall flat. I'm taking a break from YA.

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  5. The troublesome main character and the dull love interest have me hesitating in picking this one up. I feel like I've read one too many of these books. I'm going to take a pass at this series. Thanks for the honest review.

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  6. I liked this book but -- LOL -- the "ya" drove me bananas. And I also hate bananas. We might be long lost twins or something...

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  7. I been meaning to read this for a while but I'm not so sure about Riley... though the story still sounds interesting enough that I'll try it and see what I think.

    I love alternating viewpoints too! Sometimes I'll be reading a book and wishing we got to hear from another character and not because I don't like the main but because I really like a certain minor character.

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  8. ME TOO ALISON!!! I could not get over Riley's attitude toward Beck either. I know she was upset on a variety of levels, she had every right to be, but he did not deserve her constant wrath. He was hurting just as much as she was. I just wanted to hug him:) I thought the world was fabulous and loved all the demons, so I'll continue with the next book for sure, I just hope Riley does some growing up!

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  9. Dialect differences is the reason why I can't read any Highlander books. It just ruins the story for me even though I know it's used intentionally and meant to add charm.

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  10. It's such a shame that this received a five because I'm going to start it very soon and I do have high hopes.

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  11. I also gave this book a 3 out 5, I went in with really high hopes too that weren't fully met and like you Riley's treatment of Beck annoyed me and Simon was boring. I also had problems with certain holes I spotted in the world building but I loved that there were different levels of demons just like there are different levels of angels that I've read about in different books and I loved the demon trapper guild and all the action Jana Oliver was throwing at us. I hope Riley's attitude improves in book two because I could really like her if she stopped being such a jerk to Beck.

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  12. I read some pretty mixed reviews about this one, pointing out a lot of both the positives and negatives that you did. I have a really hard time with cruel people. They make me want to smack them hard on the back of the head and say, "Snap out of it!"

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  13. Ohh, I am sad you didn't like it. This book I loved! For me the second book totally was better!

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  14. I've had this book for awhile now and for some reason I still haven't started it. I think this is one of those series that will leave me less frustrated if I wait for it to finish and read it all at once.

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  15. One of the best reviews I read for this book so far! Wow.

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