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Highway to Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
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This is the third (and so far final) book in the Maggie Quinn vs. Evil series. I really enjoyed the first two (Prom Dates from Hell and Hell Week), but I have to say I was a little disappointed in this one. However, I will admit that much of my disappointment can be tied to my expectations that the book was going to be something that it was not.

The story follows Maggie Quinn and her old high-school friend D&D Lisa, aka Lisa the Evil Genius, on their way down to Padre Island in south Texas for a week of spring break debauchery. Along the way, they get sidetracked and end up spending the bulk of their week investigating a local legend and ultimately going into battle against capital-E Evil.

Some of the other supporting cast of do-gooders show up to join in, and the locals add their own skills. Probably what I liked best was seeing them all come to rely on one another’s strengths. It was reminiscent of the final battle in the summer movie Avengers when they finally stopped bickering and worked as a team. And the Evil and the supporting history for it fit together nicely.

However, I was really expecting them to actually reach Padre Island and run into some as-yet-unknown capital-E Evil down amongst the bikinis and beer kegs. You see, to me, much of the charm of the first two books was how Maggie dealt with Evil amidst some common rite of passage. The first book was battling a demon in the run-up to high school prom, while the second book dealt with curses and blood pacts all tied in with a college sorority’s initiation rituals. This one seemed to be aimed at the rite of spring break.

So I figured they would be fighting Evil during the road trip itself or on the island of crazy parties and loose morals. (Not that Maggie Quinn’s morals were ever going to be all that loose. I mean, really, she’s a good girl.) But still, I was expecting another rite of passage. Yes, the conflict occurred on a road trip, but the road trip wasn’t really part of the story. It merely bookended the tale, providing an excuse for their arrival in middle-of-nowhere and a reason for their eventual escape, so it wasn’t even a proper road trip, with bad fast food, dirty rest stops, scary truckers or any of the other elements of a long cross-country trip. Instead of a rite of passage, they were out-of-towners tangled up in some local legend.

I suppose if I could have gotten past that, I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. After all, the plot and characters really worked, but in the end, I confess I felt like Private Hudson in Aliens asking, “Is this going to be a stand-up fight, sir, or another bug hunt?” Well, as my reaction shows, it was a bug hunt. ( )
  DanThompson | Apr 29, 2013 |
Surprisingly good and well written. I happened upon this book at the Travelers Restaurant, in Union, CT, where you can get three free books with an order of food. I guess the red script on the black spine attracted me. Also, the back of the jacket said that Buffy fans would like it. And I did.

This is the third in a series, but it worked even though I have read the first two books. There was a little bit of Hebrew---Ruach, correctly used I believe, along with a brief discussion of evil. Like Buffy, Maggie has powers that your normal human doesn't have and she must learn to deal with them and use them for good. All while trying to do usual teenage things. ( )
  raizel | Apr 28, 2013 |
I really enjoyed how Clement-Moore keeps expanding Maggie Quinn's world with different kinds of magic and folkloric traditions. The Texas setting really popped on this one and Lisa's redemption arc continues to be interesting. Humor continues to be a hallmark of this series. I only hope this isn't the last one; I really liked the increased emphasis on the religious side of things and the addition of Henry to the cast. It just feels like there's plenty more stories and more world to explore. ( )
  JenJ. | Mar 31, 2013 |
Of the three Maggie Quinn books, I feel that this is the weakest of the three in regards to character development. There’s still some holdover development from the last two books, but what we find out about the characters—mainly Justin—doesn’t really make any impact or carry weight to the plot.

I do like the main plot set-up of the book. First, we’re finally dealing with a demon who’s not at the behest of a power-hungry human, and it’s also creepy. The fact that people attribute the demon’s physical shape to being a chupacabra also fits in perfectly with the setting. Not only is the Southwest US notorious for those legends (although the chupacabra story’s origins are explained in the book as being coined in Puerto Rico), but the isolated nature of Velasquez County really makes the plot fit the book. Also, the actual geography of the land provides a really good reason for why the demon’s trapped there; there’s some demon-hunting powers involved, but the make-up of the land plays a large role. The only issue I had was that there’s a lot of build-up concerning a local Native American tribe who disappeared right around the time of colonization. It’s implied that they married into the families that eventually own the land but never get fully explained and it doesn’t play as large of a role as I expected.

Like I said, the biggest problem I had was characterization. While all three books can be largely read as stand-alone volumes, main conflict-wise, Maggie and Lisa do end up growing in both character and their powers, respectively. However, Highway to Hell doesn’t really develop them much further in this respect. Lisa has a little more characterization, as she’s accepted her role as the resident chaotic good witch and she reverts to her personality from the first book. On the other hand, there’s not much for Maggie to grow on. She does met another Seer in this book, and has her powers grow and develop, but she doesn’t really change from the girl in book 2.

Justin is the only who—finally—gets the most development of the three main characters. He’s always been presented as the paladin character, the guy who just wants to do the right thing (he’s even called Galahad by Lisa), but we’ve never found out much about his backstory, aside that his parents are dead and several Catholic school noodle incidents involving his best friend Henry. (Who finally appears in this book!) His parents’ death turns out to be the reason why he’s so interested in folklore and mythology; his theory involves several symbols found near their things on a missionary trip. However, the revelation comes at the end of the book, and for some reason, I just can’t get the sense that this is supposed to be as important as Justin says it is. He’s proven knowledgeable about different global folklores, but the specific reason why he’s interested doesn’t seem to tie in with the things he and Maggie normally go up against.

It’s not a bad book, but seeing as that it’s currently the last entry in the series, Highway to Hell feels more like a standalone book. The development feels like there’s someplace to go with a fourth book, and overall, it feels like a filler volume. Compared the previous volumes, it’s weaker. I still enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t have the same kind of giddy feeling as I went through; that, and I really wish that there were more Maggie Quinn books in the works. For now, this’ll have to do for an ending.
( )
  princess-starr | Mar 31, 2013 |
Never ceasing to push the YA envelope, Highway to Hell is a must read for all YA lovers. It’s quick and fun, but without being fluff -- you don’t even need to read the two previous books (although it is advised).

My favorite of the series, I’m still debating whether the ending is perfect or shake RCM and Random House Publishing until they promise to continue the series. Clement-Moore has said she hoped to let the reader imagine what happens next, so perhaps that’s better than perfect. ... please click for the full review. ( )
  tipsyreader | Jun 16, 2011 |
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Some people think that Texas has only one season, that it's summer all year long.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385734638, Hardcover)

Maggie Quinn was expecting to find plenty of trouble with Lisa over Spring Break. Give a girl a bikini, a beachfront hotel, and an absent boyfriend, and it’s as good as a road map to the dark side. But Maggie doesn’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble has started looking for her. One dead cow and a punctured gas tank later, she and Lisa are stuck in
Dulcina, Texas—a town so small that it has an owner. And lately life in this small town hasn’t been all that peaceful. An eerie predator is stalking the ranchland.

Everyone in town has a theory, but not even Maggie’s psychic mojo can provide any answers. And the longer the girls are stranded, the more obvious it becomes that something is seriously wrong. Only no one—not even Maggie’s closest ally—wants to admit that they could have been forced on a detour down the highway to hell.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

On their way to spend spring break on a Texas beach, college freshmen Maggie Quinn and D&D Lisa are stranded in a town where some believe a chupacabra is killing animals, and as the girls investigate they get help from diverse and unexpected sources.

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