December 23, 2011

2011 Cybils: Misfit, by Jon Skovron

We're getting right down to the wire with our Cybils selection process. The Big Dance for SFF is on the 27th, wherein we stay up all night and argue. Or, in my case, get up ridiculously early and yawn whilst everyone else argues.

The Cybils reviews will continue, even as we finish our selection and the final judges begin their deliberations, because we simply had too many unique and strange books this year to stop talking about them now. So, onward with the books!

Reader Gut Reaction: This is Jon Skovron's second novel, and he brings to it a real skill at characterization. Dry humor, excellent pacing, and realistically flawed and totally "getable" main character - one of the most fun books I've read this year. I gulped it down in a single sitting.

What I love most about this novel, perhaps, is the romance.

Now, wait - don't wander off with the eye-rolling. There is a romance - and we all love our romances, yes - but the plot does not pivot upon the One Dreamy Forbidden Irresistible Boy trope. All right? I love a romance, but I am well sick of that one, and Skovron doesn't do it. Jael's in high school, she has hormones, exercises them, yes. But, that's not even remotely the important part of the story. Read this book for that alone.

Concerning Character: Jael Thompson would really like to stick around, just once -- but she and her father move more than anyone she's ever known. An ex-priest with some kind of issues with the Church, he still makes Jael go to Catholic school - and he teaches there, too. There's kind of no escaping him. It's not that Jael doesn't love him, but it's tiring to have him be all she has, when it's not like he acts like he wants her. What Jael seems to want most is for someone to both know her and like her, all at once. Most people don't know her at all. I mean, she attends Catholic school, and she's not exactly ...angelic. Which causes her some problems, to say the least.

When Jael turns sixteen, her gives her a gift that her mother left for her when she died. It is both history and legacy, and Jael realizes that she doesn't know herself at all, either -- and neither does her Dad. Maybe her father doesn't even know what's best for her. A determined Jael sets out to get in touch with the darker side of her family, and in turn, with the darker side of herself. She's been doing her best to be good, but her mother was a demon - maybe there's just no hope for her anyway...?

This is a coming of age novel in a million hilarious ways -- with real life dramas such as high school and guys getting involved -- but it's also a really intelligent treatise on belief, and the nature of good and evil.

Recommended for Fans Of...: the Dad and Daughter novel thing - Sarwat Chadda's The Devil's Kiss trilogy, Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels series, or Jana G. Oliver's The Demon Trapper's Daughter, & etc.

Cover Chatter: I've thought and thought and thought about this cover. It's straightforward, the red, black, and gray color scheme easily appealing across sexes, and the title is only slightly whimsical, with the tail of the 's' a serpentine curve with a devilish point on the end. The 'i' is dotted with a representation of Jael's locket, a gift she received from her mother at sixteen. What I don't understand is the ...blood on the letters. There's none of that in the book. This isn't gory by any means. Maybe the letters are metal, and it's really runny rust? Ach, well. It makes the title stand out.

You can find MISFIT at an independent bookstore near you!


Sarah Stevenson said...

I love hearing about your unexpected discoveries--I liked that about being a 1st round judge.

Keiichi Ushiromiya said...

Well, I think the blood is actually because of the dark-edged tone to this story, as it DOES involve demons, and demons are usually evil, and evil can involve blood ...

Correct me if I'm wrong?
This book sounds a bit Gothic.