Monday, September 6, 2010

Devilish by Maureen Johnson


Maureen Johnson

SUMMARY:  All Jane Jarvis wants to do is survive senior year at St. Teresa's Preparatory School for Girls and carry her best friend Allison Concord along with her. Jane and Allison have always been a little bit too unique and unusual to be in the popular crowd at St. Teresa's.  But they've been together and so far, that's been enough.  However, after Allison has one publicly embarrassing moment too many, she comes to school transformed.  Suddenly, Ally doesn't need Jane to protect her; instead she's got the perfect new hair and wardrobe and will barely speak to Jane.  Meanwhile Jane seems to have picked up a unusually serious and knowledgeable freshman stalker named Owen and Allison has started dating Jane's ex-boyfriend.  Soon, Owen helps Jane discover the unbelievable truth: her best friend has sold her soul to a demon.  Now it's up to Jane to try her best to save Allison and stop the mysterious Poodle Prom from changing the world as she knows it forever in the most negative of ways. 

ONESMARTCUPCAKE SAYS:  After my introduction to Maureen Johnson's fiction in The Bermudez Triangle, I was pretty sure I would enjoy basically anything she wrote.  So far, my suspicions have been confirmed.  Devilish was a delightful reading experience, portraying the horrors of high school with supernatural twist.  Jane makes a great narrator, with her smart and sarcastic observations and her heartfelt determination to rescue her friend.  I loved her spiky hair, her sometimes equally prickly disposition, and her attempts to remain logical in the face of bizarre situation.  She's spunky but also human in her fears and small weaknesses.

Johnson does a great job of balancing the supernatural aspects of her narrative with the more everyday, earthly aspects.  She crafts an interesting and darkly humorous world where Hell is structured like any other big corporation and the boy's school across the street is a former satanic temple. Lanalee, a demon working her way up the evil corporate ladder, is the ideal antagonist for the story; she offers people escape from the pain of being different or unhappy in exchange for their souls and so is a villain that fits in perfectly with the desperate world of high school.  She's confident and cruelly manipulative, making her suited to lure in girls like Allison, whose own lack of confidence triples with every embarrassment.  Plus she uses cupcakes in her evil schemes, which just adds a new layer of amusement for me at least!

At its root, Devilish is a story about friendship and the value of individuality.  It prompts questions about what values or people are worth fighting for.  The novel highlights the very real pain of feeling like a freak and power of feeling like an insider.  In the end, Jane and Allison's friendship becomes the key motivation for both girls to fight against the seduction of having a perfect life in order to have their own lives instead.

In Devilish, Maureen Johnson combines dark humor and good characters in a smart and fantastic story with definite heart. If you're looking for a fun quality read, pick this one up asap!


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