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Devilish by Maureen Johnson

Devilish (2006)

by Maureen Johnson

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6883113,845 (3.63)25

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Second time reading:

This is just...awesome. My favorite kind of demon/urban fantasy/YA story. Not too much drama to complicate things, but still intense and realistic. Demons with cupcakes. Undead teenagers. Demon-hunting old priests. Brilliant main characters with bleach blonde spikes.

One thing I love about Devilish is that there's so much information we don't get, but it doesn't feel like it got forgotten about. It just isn't featured. And for once I'm okay with having unanswered questions, because it makes the world feel very... complete. I'm not sure if that makes any sense. I'm certainly not asking for a sequel, because Devilish feels very perfect all by itself.

Another great thing about it is the characters. They are all just brilliant. Jane Jarvis not only has an awesome name and awesome hair, she also is actually brilliant and funny and clever. Ally is cute, in an awkward kind of way. Lanalee actually is quite scary. I honestly even love Joan, who is the type of character I normally hate.

I just love this book. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | May 10, 2014 |
Now I get it. I understand exactly why my friends were confused by my review of The Name of the Star and my surprise at Maureen's turn to the supernatural in that book. Clearly not her first time going that route now that I've read Devilish. And this was an excellent read! It was just way too much fun.

I honestly couldn't stop reading. Had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish, I just really needed to know how it ended.

The characters felt real, human, not a clearly defined stereotype based off a hundred other similar characters. The location, Rhode Island, is certainly unique for a demon to set up shop and do her damage. I also have to say, I like that Jane doesn't have any kind of special ability, other than her mind. Ever since Buffy, so many writers fall into the trap of thinking the only way for a human to take on a supernatural threat is with some kind of power. Not Jane, she just thinks through the problem and acts accordingly, to the best of her ability.

And of course, I can never look at cupcakes the same way again, especially red velvet. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Oct 23, 2013 |
I don’t want to say that I dislike this book. There’s some really good things about it—I like the concept, I love the characters—but there’s something about this book that feels off to me. I don’t want to bash Maureen Johnson for not writing solely realistic YA, but I don’t get why Devilish doesn’t entirely work for me.

Part of my issue is that this is another book where Johnson writes in the first-person. I’ve read her short stories, which are all first-person, but I’ve had an issue with when she’s uses it in the full-length novels. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m so used to her writing third-person omniscient, but it’s really just my personal preference.

I do really like the characters. Jane could have come off as too riot grrl troublemaker, but I like the fact that she has to face her beliefs and find something to actually fight for. She really does grow a lot throughout the book, and the growth shows in the writing. I relate to Allison the most, though, if only because I could understand her awkwardness and potentially being willing to sell her soul. And you really get the sense of how close Jane and Allison are and how far they’d be willing to go for each other. It’s a nice thing that I don’t really see expanded on in a lot of girl friendships in YA most of the time. Owen’s a sweetheart, if a little weak for being a love interest (and am I the only one who wants to guess that him really being 116 is a take that to a certain series? No? I’m just reading into this?). The only character I don’t really like is Joan—I get that she’s supposed to be intellectually Jane’s foil, but making her completely stupid felt really unrealistic to me. I felt sorry for Joan, her character comes off as a bit insulting.

The villains, while I like them in general, actually lend to the big problems I have with the book. In general, I like Lanalee. I like that she’s set up as a red herring at first, and even though that she’s made out to be a danger, she’s still stuck preying on high school girls. I get why she wants Jane’s soul, and I believe the way she uses Allison to get what she wants. THAT SAID, everything else tying Lanalee to the backstory of the town and specifically the two Catholic schools feels out of place. It feels like there’s supposed to be a reason why she’s come back to Providence, but it’s never really explained. And Fields—what was his purpose aside from giving Jane some freaky dreams and being a general creeper? I do like how Jane ultimately defeats the demons in the end, but even then, the loophole is barely explained.

And the biggest issue I have overall is the end. Yes, Allison and Jane make up and resolve their issues…but then there’s five chapters left and Jane’s stuck on her own. And there’s an explanation of what happened after Jane defeats Lanalee, but it feels more like an info-dump. And then the book just ends. The end’s extremely rushed and I didn’t really feel like anything got resolved. It feels like this was going to be a setup to a series (which I wouldn’t have minded), but even then, there’s not really much to go off of the end here.

It’s an enjoyable and quick read, but in comparison to her more realistic work, I think this is one of the weaker of Maureen Johnson’s books. I like what I read, but ultimately, I’m left wanting more.
( )
  princess-starr | Mar 31, 2013 |
I adore Maureen Johnson. I luff her. So I read her books. I read this in an afternoon, and it was entertaining. Funny characters, good setting. (Has there ever been a less paranormall-y place than Providence, RI?) I was interested in the girl's school setting, but that's not where most of the action takes place. The demons were sufficiently evil and clever. While sacrifice is a big theme, it remains a lot of fun. ( )
  alwright1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
In this novel, Jane must save her best friend, Allison, from the deal she has struck with a demon who has taken on the guise of a friendly, cupcake-eating classmate at their Catholic high school. The situation and the tone--funny, heartfelt, and scary at once--are similar to those of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, making this book likely to appeal to fans of the show who might be reluctant readers.

What I really enjoyed about Devilish is that it deals with the paranormal differently than do the scores of other paranormal YA books dominating the market. Rather than making the romantic subplot the focus of the book, Johnson places female friendship and the struggle to do the "right" thing versus doing what seems right to you as an individual at the forefront of the narrative. Her characters are smart, realistic, and very fun to read. Teenage girls could read this book and recognize themselves and their friends rather than identifying with the weak, watered-down female protagonists who only want to date a sparkly boy.

Devilish could have been two different novels: one a supernatural thriller, the other a drama about life in high school. Either one would probably have been okay, but blended together, they make a perfect book. ( )
  brittney_reed | Mar 1, 2012 |
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For J.W. Keeley, my little piece of hell on earth, and my friend for all eternity. And Mr. Jones, wherever he may be.
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So this was how it ended.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Jane Jarvis and Allison Concord are desperate to get through senior year at Saint Teresa's Preparatory School for Girls, where barbed wire keeps the boys out and ancient nuns keep the girls in.
Jane and Allison have always been too quirky and different to be popular, but at least they've had each other. Then, after a hideous, embarrassing disaster, Allison comes to school transformed. Suddenly she has cute hair and clothes. She's fluent in Latin, she won't even speak to Jane, and within days, she's stolen Jane's ex-boyfriend, Elton.
A strangely wise freshman boy, Owen, helps Jane discover the outrageous truth--that Allison has sold her soul to the devil. At first, Jane doesn't quite buy it. She plays along with the weirdness--and even gambles her own soul in order to rescue Allison. But events take a turn for the real, and Jane will have to save Allison before the bizarrely exclusive Poodle Prom, a party of biblical proportions that just might blow apart the world as Jane knows it.
(from inside flap)
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Jane Jarvis, a senior at a Catholic girl's school in Providence, Rhode Island, tries to save her best friend by making a pact with a demon--in the form of a cupcake-eating, very friendly teenage girl.

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