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The Demon's Surrender

The Demon's Surrender - Sarah Rees Brennan It's been two months, and I still don't know what to say other than, "This book disappointed me." I keep wavering between two and one stars--if I'd come into it cold, it would be a solid two-star book, but I didn't. I came into it with the weight of expectations from The Demon's Lexicon, which I thought was fabulous, and under those it fell utterly, utterly flat.

A lot of the reasons why I hated this book have been covered. The PoV was wrong for the story; Sin spent far too much time eavesdropping on others' emotionally intimate conversations, not because she cared about them but because the reader did, and even when she was doing her Own Thing, her own thing was entirely reactive. The "battle" for leadership of the market between Sin and Mae was stupid--who holds a civil war when an external enemy is already attacking?--and authorially stacked in Mae's favor; Sin, despite having trained for the position from childhood, apparently knows nothing about it and is never allowed to show competency at anything except hand-to-hand fighting and dancing. To say this is problematic when Mae is a rich white outsider and Sin is a poor black insider is to state the obvious. The ending had far too little cost for anyone, given the forces that had been unleashed.

Those are problems with the book, problems I would have had even if this had been the first volume I'd read. But then there's the problem with my expectations. And that's this: the reason why I loved The Demon's Lexicon was that it took the dark, brooding hero and said, look. This guy does not have a heart of gold. This guy is not waiting for your healing touch. This guy is broken, irrevocably, and you can pour all yourself into fixing him and you may, in the end, help him, but in the process you will be devoured. (Look what happened to Alan.) The only right choice is to step away. And that is a story that I think needs to be told, and oh-so-seldom is.

So that's the story I heard. But that isn't, clearly, the story that Brennan wanted to be telling. That was made obvious in The Demon's Covenant; I was just willing to ignore the signs. And here, well . . . the girl gets the dark and brooding hero, and they're on the road to redemption.

This is the sound of my book hitting the far wall.

(For what it's worth, if you're curious about whom I wanted to see paired off with whom, the answer is, "No one with anyone." Which is a pretty clear sign that I was reading the wrong damn book.)