Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Posted by Simcha 8:05 AM, under | 3 comments

Despite the fact that I can probably count on one hand all of the Paranormal Romance books that I’ve actually enjoyed enough to finish, I keep trying out new ones because the book blurbs often do sound interesting. A book about an angel and a demon fighting for the soul of a teenage girl intrigued me enough that I requested Personal Demons from the Goodreads First Reads program.

Despite being raised in a Catholic home with deeply religious parents and four sisters named Mary, Frannie is less than reverent regarding her religion. She doesn’t believe in G-d and asks too many questions, causing her to be kicked out of Catholic school. Frannie has also been harboring a dark secret that has haunted her since childhood and has shadowed every moment of her life.

When the dark and roguish Luc appears in school one day Frannie can't believe her good luck in being assigned as his lab partner. And even better, he actually seemed to interested in Frannie. Little does Frannie realize that Luc is really a demon from Hell on a mission to tag her soul. To succeed all he has to do it get her to sin, and Frannie is more than willing to let him try. Just as things begin heating up between Luc and Frannie, Frannie finds herself drawn to another new student at school, Gabe, who invokes in her feelings that she has never experienced before. But like Luc, Gabe is no ordinary teenage boy. He has been sent from Heaven to protect Frannie from Luc and ensure that her soul remains unsoiled and destined for Heaven.
There is something special about Frannie that has both Heaven and Hell fighting for her soul, though the fight begins to get personal when Luc finds himself wanting more. And Frannie can’t decide who she wants to be with more, the wickedly tempting bad boy, Luc, or the beautifully angelic Gabe.

Unfortunately Personal Demons is not a book that worked for me at all and I really had to struggle to get through it. The first problem I had was with the way the story was narrated in the first person perspective by both Luc and Frannie. Both characters takes turns narrating the story but because both of their voices sounded so much alike I had trouble remembering who the current narrator was supposed to be. I’m also not a fan of stories told in this style because readers gets a more narrow perspective of each character, than if the story was told in third person, which is what I felt happened in Personal Demons. Furthermore, if an author is going to put me in the head of a character so different from myself they are going to have be very convincing and I was not convinced that a millennium-old demon would be viewing the world the same way as a teenage boy. And finally, the fact that the story was told from Luc and Frannie’s perspectives, but not Gabe's, didn’t make much sense to me and made the story feel somewhat unbalanced.

Aside from the narration issue, the story itself didn't really engage me. In the beginning Frannie seems like an interesting enough character, though certain of her behaviors seemed odd, such a flipping a guy, Judo-style, in public. People just don't do that kind of stuff in real life, and than having the guy be impressed by this behavior was really unbelievable. I also couldn't sympathize for Frannie's irritation at being pursued by a guy that she had recently made out with at a party, and than ignored. These little incidents had me viewing Frannie, from the beginning, in a less-than-positive light. And as soon as Luc and Gabe appear on the scene Frannie turns into an angst ridden teenager who spends most of her time wringing her hands about which guy to choose.

Not much really happens for most of the book other than Frannie’s waffling between Luc and Gabe. Towards the end the pace speeds up a bit and things get a little more interesting when some other demons come to call with the intent of capturing Frannie themselves. Though Frannie lost any respect I might have had left for her by repeatedly falling for the same tricks of the demons, requiring her to constantly need rescuing. If I were Luc I would have tried to find a different soul to pursue.

The romance was not particularly believable since all the characters seem to fall in love with each other after only a few brief encounters. I also had difficulty believing that there was anything about Frannie that would appeal to two immortal creatures like Gable and Luc. I was also dubious about Frannie's supposedly pure soul when she seems to have no qualms about playing with the emotions of both Luc and Gabe by throwing herself at whichever guy she is currently with and even kissing one of them in front of the other. Such behavior seems rather cruel to me.

The character development also left a lot to be desired with Luc being the only characters that felt somewhat real. Though he was disappointingly mild, considering that he is supposed to be an evil demon from Hell. Piercings and a black '68 Shelby were not enough to convince me of Luc's evil ways. Gabe’s character barely makes an impression, though it’s clear from the beginning that he has a lesser role in the story since he doesn’t get his own POV. Frannie's two friends who we meet but never really get to know, were also sorely neglected.

Personal Demons was not at all what I was hoping for though I also hadn’t realized that it was a young adult book when I had requested it, which probably makes a difference. While this book wasn’t to my taste it’s possible that regular readers of YA fiction might enjoy it more than I did.


I know what you mean about POVs that are supposed to be from different characters but end up sounding alike. And that's a big sign when Gabe doesn't get his own POV. Gee, I wonder who Frannie ends up with???

wow. Rough read. Sorry you didn't like the book much. Maybe the next one will be better? :) THanks for the review.

Melissa: Yeah, I really shouldn't review these PNR/UF books b/c I never like them. But the descriptions always sound so interesting...

Stephanie: I know, that was such a giveaway abt Gabe. I think this book would have been a lot better if told from the third psn POV.

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