Word Spelunking

Misfit - Jon Skovron There are so many YA novels out today that feature supernatural beings and occurrences- you have your vampires, your werewolves, your witches, and your wizards- that sometimes its hard to find a truly original and refreshing novel amongst this genre…but I have found such a novel in Jon Skovron’s Misfit.Misfit explores the world of demons, an aspect of the supernatural world that I have not seen a great deal of in YA lit. In Misfit, we are introduced to Jael, a young girl with a dark secret that has kept her and her distant father on the run since she was a baby- Jael is half demon. Jael’s mother was a powerful demon and on Jael’s 16th birthday her life changes forever as she begins her journey as a newly powered half-breed, faced with new abilities; enemies that want her dead; blossoming romance; and that beautiful mix of pain and wonder that only comes with adolescence.If I had to describe this book in one word, I’d say it was gripping…but, when have I ever been able to stop at just one word? This book was indeed gripping and refreshing, edgy, smart, and thought provoking, Skovron has taken the concept of demons and really presented that concept from a new and intriguing perspective. As Jael is pushed headlong into this world, she and readers alike are met with the unexpected realization that maybe everything we think we know about demons is wrong.Between the fast paced action and captivating explorations of magic, Skovron has weaved very thought provoking notions and questions throughout. What does it mean to be a demon? What does it mean to be human? What role does an individual’s humanity play in making them good or evil? These are just some of the very complex and philosophical questions that both Jael and readers are faced with. But, if you’re worried that these underlying elements are too overwhelming or distract from the story itself, fear not. Skovron has layered his novel with these elements in very subtle and organic ways.This is a very character driven story and Skovron’s characters are beautifully crafted. Jael, her father, and her mother are extremely well developed, layered, and dimensional characters. I felt like I formed an intense and strong connection and relationship with each of these characters. I loved how Skovron could have me loving a character, sympathizing with that character, and wanting to yell at and chastise that character, but never losing my fascination and genuine affection for that character all in the breadth of a single page.I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the other characters better though, such as Jael’s best friend Brittany; Rob, the boy she likes; and Dagan, her demon uncle. Each of these characters play just an integral role in the novel, that I think they deserved a bit more development.This is definitely meant for older YA readers, as there is a great deal of cursing and discussion of a sexual nature. But these things feel very natural and organic, especially when used in a high school setting, and not as if they were simply thrown in there to add a bit of edginess to the story…which many YA novels tend to do.There is one aspect of this novel that I wasn’t crazy about, and that was the way some of the religious elements were presented and used. Let me make myself clear, I am not saying that I, personally, was offended by any of the religious aspects (as I myself am not a religious person), nor do I believe it was Skovron’s intention to either offend or commend the Catholic faith and religion in general. This book is about demons, Hell, exorcisms, and other religious notions and Jael does go to a Catholic high school, so religion does have its place and purpose in the novel. However, I do think that different people may interpret these religious aspects and, especially the things that different characters say about religion, in either a really negative way or a really positive way. I think this may have the unfortunate effect of distracting readers from the story itself. This novel left me breathless, but never really left me. I still find myself musing over all the intriguing ideas about demons, Hell, and religion. This is definitely one of those books that stays with you long after you read it. I definitely recommend that you read this book

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