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March 29, 2011

Non-Spoilery Review: The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan

2011 Books

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Demon's Surrender, the final volume in Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon's Lexicon trilogy. There's always a little trepidation that comes with reading the last book in a series, because what if it's not as good? What if it sours your memories of the whole series? What if it ruins everything?

Well. In this case, I needn't have worried. The Demon's Lexicon and The Demon's Covenant were the two best books I read in the past few years, and The Demon's Surrender was EVEN BETTER. And instead of ruining anything about the previous books, it made me love them even more. And it made me want to talk about them to everyone I know, but since this book isn't out until June, no one I know has read it. (I resorted to actually e-mailing the author herself, not to mention constantly harassing her on Twitter, and she has put up with this very kindly.) As I mentioned a few days ago, as part of my quest to make everyone read these books, we're going to do a book-of-the-month thing with the first two in April and May. In the meantime I've been more or less hitting my friends over the head with the first book (sometimes literally).

And the extra-difficult thing to do with talking about this book is that almost ANYTHING I can say about the plot will be a spoiler for the previous books. That's why I've been rambling for two paragraphs here without actually saying anything. It's awesome! I love it! Isn't that enough? No, no it's not. So let me say, in a general sense, that The Demon's Surrender takes everything we thought we knew about these characters and this world from the first two books, flips it sort of inside out, throws in a bunch of new problems, and then resolves everything in a way that is thoroughly satisfying but not simplistic or saccharine. And if you're anything like me, it will make you want to immediately go back and reread the whole trilogy and work out how it was all set up, because it was set up BRILLIANTLY.

One unusual thing about this trilogy is that each book is told from the point of view of a different character. I know some readers have complained about this, but I ended up LOVING that feature and now sort of think that all series should be that way. (Well, maybe not all, but more, anyway.) The viewpoint character of this third book was one on whom I hadn't gotten much of a read in the previous books, so I was a little wary, but I wound up adoring her. But more importantly, I adored the way the world and circumstances of the books looked completely different from her perspective. For example, her version of one of the main characters was funnier than the version seen by the previous narrator, but also less attractive. Her take on magic and demons was completely different. And issues of race and class, which I'd never noticed all that much in the previous books, became vitally important in this one, because they were vitally important to this narrator. At the same time, though, the series was completely consistent and the different narrators were clearly describing the same world. The changes in points of view made the world of the books more believable and more enjoyable, not less so.

What else can I say without spoiling? How about a list of Awesome Things you will find in this book?

1. A gritty, compelling British setting - with an extra hidden layer of magic
2. Hot brothers fighting evil, while being somewhat shady themselves. (I have a weakness for this.)
3. A young male feminist
4. Two strong, independent teenage girls, who totally pass the Bechdel test
5. The girls are both awesome but very different (physically and otherwise), but both attractive, and to some of the same boys.
6. Characters who are gay, just as a matter of course. Totally not a big issue, in the best possible way.
7. Plot twists that genuinely surprised me, and yet made complete sense in retrospect. (Honestly, that's pretty rare.)
8. Exciting fights, of both the magic sort and the knife sort. And sometimes the magic knife sort.
9. A demon's hilarious/sweet/scary version of romance
10. More of the wonderful sibling relationships from the first two books, plus a new one that's both sweet and fierce.
11. Ridiculously hot make-out scenes. (One features a book, because SRB knows what the nerdy girls like.)
12. My new favorite Couple of Lying Liars, supplanting even Chuck and Blair in my "deceitful romantics" affections.
13. Many, many lines that will make you literally laugh out loud, plus at least a few that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
14. Oh, did I mention the hot guy taking care of a baby?
15. And the DEMONS and MAGICIANS and DANGER and FIRE?
So, basically, I'm saying you probably want to just preorder this now, because if you haven't already read The Demon's Lexicon (order that while you're at it) I'm going to browbeat you into that next month, and then you'll want to read the rest of the trilogy as quickly as you possibly can. Promise.

Posted by Kat at March 29, 2011 08:24 AM

I am soooooooo excited for this book, and your review is leaving me angsty because I want it NOW. I'm very excited to read things from Sin's POV!

Posted by: Jessica Noel at March 29, 2011 11:23 AM

GAH! JUNE! I may implode between now and then.

Funny story: I decided to order this through a local indie kid's bookstore. So anyway, I called asked them if they ever preorder things for people and the lady said they did. So she asked the title and the author's name, which I told her. Then she asked when the book was coming out. I said, "June." She said, "Oh!" and laughed. I think it's perfectly normal to want all of your books six months in advance.

Posted by: Maureen E at March 29, 2011 11:51 AM
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