Oh, the drama! Oh, the angst! Oh, whatever shall we do?
While half of me spent was rolling my eyes at the high school theater in this story, the other half marveled at the mature themes. Kaylee (main character) has literally been betrayed and disappointed by every person in her life.
Well welcome to the real world, little girl.
I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it for every teenager on the planet. Watching this character wrestle with demons - at times, literally - is an education in itself (by the way, the head demon - Satan - is defined by the word liar. So I don't like the idea that demons can't lie. I think that's a misnomer). There is a little of "I can't trust him and don't want him, but you can't have him either." There is some "you don't deserve him." There is a lot of "I don't deserve you, I'm worthless." And there is a whole lot of "I'm worthless" in general, followed by serious overtones of "are you kidding? You're more important than anything!"
Kaylee frustrated me a lot in this book. I'm not sure if it's a difference in my personality and the personality of the character, but there were several times I wished she either let herself cry or give in to her reigning emotions. She always did the logical, smart thing rather than the emotional thing. I think this kept the tension going in the book. But I think I would have sided with her more often if she had just let herself be weak for a moment. She held onto her resentment for a long time - perhaps understandably so. But she really did seriously punish Nash. Some forgiving but not totally forgetting - there are consequences to every "sin" - would have been in order.
Nash is completely sympathetic, if a little vain over two girls fighting for him. Sabine is sympathetic because we pity her for what she is and where's she's been. Alec is sympathetic because he has no control. Honestly, if I heard one more of these characters say "I'll never let it happen again, Kaylee, I swear on my life" I thought I would scream.
Two things impressed me deeply about this book. The first was the way Sabine would talk to Kaylee. She spoke such truth and insight. She came from such an honest, tortured place with such amazing, astonishing perspective that I marveled at the maturity of this writing. Wow.
The second was the conversation between Tod and Kaylee regarding her relationship with Nash. Again, so honest and insightful. Both of these perspectives came from maturity way beyond teenage years - and as such, give the YA audience (and the rest of us) a chance to re-evaluate our own motives at times.
Also of note is the way the central romance - Kaylee and Nash - is being handled slowly and with such care. We aren't being rushed into anything with these characters. They may make it together or they may not. But either way, we are not left hanging to wonder overmuch. She gives us total resolution without actual direction, and that is one gifted storyteller.
I can't wait to get into the next book. Of the four thus far, this is the most emotional and probably the best for that reason. It brings the phrase "wrestling with your demons" to a whole new level.