Title: Personal Demons
Author: Lisa Desrochers
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Personal Demons (Book 1)
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
Format: Paperback, 368
Synopsis (Product Description):
Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She’s spent years keeping everyone at a distance—even her closest friends—and it seems her senior year will be more of the same…until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can’t seem to stay away from him. What she doesn’t know is that Luc works in Acquisitions—for Hell—and she possesses a unique skill set that has the King of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he’s as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance.
Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn’t get what he came for. And it isn’t long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.
But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay…for all of them.
Quick & Dirty: Unfortunately, Personal Demons delivers unlikable and clichéd characters, which does nothing to help the formulaic and underdeveloped plot.
Opening Sentence: If there’s a Hell on Earth, it’s high school.
Luc Cain is on a mission. Luc is a First Level, 7,000 year old demon sent from the underworld to tag Frannie Cavanaugh’s soul. Frannie, a “good” catholic girl is going through a rebellious phase, battling her “wicked” streak. She’s ripe for the picking. As events unfold, Frannie soon discovers that she’s not just an average teenage girl. With her ability to shift the balance of power between good and evil, Frannie has the celestials and the infernals vying for her soul. Gabriel is an angel sent to foil Luc’s attempts to tag Frannie’s soul so that he can tag her soul himself for the good cause. Frannie quickly becomes enamored with both angel and demon, making it hard for her to function, and for them to do their respective jobs. Tag, you’re it!
Personal Demons turned out to be a rather disappointing read. I was initially intrigued when I first heard about this series. I loved the premise and thought that the setup would make for a compelling story. The first two chapters setup what appeared to be a titillating, seductive, and all-consuming read. Unfortunately, Mrs. Desrochers settles into a dull and clichéd rhythm, which leads to a series of painfully predictable moments. Personal Demons starts out with a sizzle, but quickly turns into a fizzle.
Personal Demons is told in first person narrative with alternating POV’s between Luc and Frannie. The narrative voices aren’t particularly distinct from each other, making it hard to really care about or feel attached to the characters. Luc doesn’t ever seem worldly let alone evil. I certainly didn’t expect a 7,000 year old demon to be so immature and unsure of himself. I initially thought the idea of incorporating scents with emotions was great, but it quickly turned annoying as I couldn’t remember them all. These are just some that I remembered to flag as I read along: Anise = Envy, Bitter Garlic = Hate, Black Pepper = Fury, Chocolate = Love, Citrus = Fear, Ginger = Lust. But uncharismatic characters and contrived scenes aren’t Personal Demons’ greatest sins.
There’s nothing dark or dangerous about this story. On the surface we are told what could happen and about the “evil” beasties involved, yet it’s not clearly shown to the reader. Fundamentally, this story lacks that sense of real danger and fear given the fact that the “evil” overlord himself has sent various henchmen to tag Frannie’s soul.
Frannie isn’t terribly sympathetic or likable, and the frequent use of the words: “‘Cause”, “Whatever”, and “Mmm” literally drove me mad. Frannie is driven by lust and paralyzed by ambivalence when it comes to making her own decisions. I don’t have an issue with her sudden lustful fits and teenage angst because it’s actually one of the only believable aspects of the book. The major issue is that there isn’t ANYTHING else to Frannie. Her character is completely vacuous and superficial on every level. But for the fact that Frannie’s “innocence” is mentioned in the book, she would be known as the town bicycle. Her constant falling all over and making out with Luc and Gabe at seemingly the most random moments felt shallow. I never felt that necessary romantic and emotional connection. Beyond the fact that Frannie is just a horny, annoying, selfish, and immature person, she’s just not that interesting. I simply couldn’t find one redeemable quality about her.
It’s a shame that Luc turned out to be such a lackluster character because he had the most potential to be interesting. Luc is supposed to be an “evil” demon sent to seduce Frannie and lead her down a sinful path so that he can tag her soul for his boss, but he NEVER does anything evil. Imagine watching a movie about a serial killer who never kills anybody. Preposterous, right? Luc is probably one of the most pitiful characterizations of “evil” that I’ve ever read.
Gabriel and Luc are essentially one in the same, where any “hot” guy will fill that lust void for Frannie. The “love triangle” in this book is basically non-existent. Gabriel is yet another severely under developed character whose chief draw to Frannie is that he’s unbelievably “HOT”.
Overall, I found Personal Demons to be a deeply flawed novel, with little character depth and development. Ms. Desrochers fails to adhere to the realities within the fantasy she created. She writes about a conflict between good and evil, but never presents us with anything remotely evil, or particularly sinful. Other than Frannie’s sexual frustrations and sudden boy obsession, and a poorly constructed love triangle, this story doesn’t seem to have any real purpose.
Finally, my head starts to clear, and I reach my sanctuary: the sliver of Hell from my wall mural. I walk along the cragged banks of the Lake of Fire until I reach the southernmost tip, where the lake meets the Walls of Hell, and the river Styx flows in from the south. Here, the distant shrieks of the damned and the mirthful laughter of the infernal blend and echo off the high walls like a dissonant choir. This is my cathedral.
Sitting on the pitted lava outcropping over the Lake of Fire, I let the music of Hell welcome me home for the last time. I stare out over the lake at the glossy black hulk of Pandemonium, perched above all of Hell on Flame Island. I admire the orange and red roiling molten lake swirling around the large crags of brimstone, pointing like accusing fingers at Heaven. Its accompanying light show–flickering scarlet and indigo with blue and white flame eruptions–is like Hell’s fireworks. And as the clouds of sulfuric gas emanating from those eruptions engulf me, I breathe them in, savoring the smell of brimstone as it stings my human nose. It’s easy to forget how beautiful home is, at least to us demons.
The Personal Demons Series:
2. Original Sin
FTC Advisory: Tor Teen provided me with a copy of Personal Demons. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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