Book Review: The Demon’s Surrender, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Margaret K. McElderry Books
387 pp.

In The Demon’s Surrender, the point of view shifts to Sin. Up to this point, her entire life has revolved around the Market, and her family. She is currently in competition with Mae to win control of the Goblin Market. Since Mae is a “tourist,” Sin does not think Mae has what it takes to become the next leader. (Unfortunately, the current leader feels it is an even match, hence the competition.) Sin’s life is also greatly complicated by the escalating war between the Market and the magicians, her home life, her father, and the possibility of a romantic relationship with Alan Ryves. (With whom she was emphatically not interested in previously, so it is a surprise to both of them.)

This book was a disaster in slow motion, and I mean that in a good way. There is a slow buildup of tension as apparent betrayals turn out to be double crosses and everyone’s secrets are discovered. I was extremely impressed by the complexity of the plot, and the way everything comes together. (There were a few points were I thought the pacing was a little slow, but that was mostly because of the aforementioned buildup of tension.)

The romantic elements do not overwhelm the rest of the story and Brennan avoids the clichés that are often a staple of YA (and adult for that matter) fiction. I liked the spiky, wary interactions between Sin and Alan, and the way the developing relationship stays spiky and wary. It was especially interesting because it becomes apparent that in a way, Alan is almost as socially crippled as Nick is. (As an example, Alan has a deep desire for “normalcy” that he cannot have because he has to protect his brother and protect everyone else from his brother. The best he can do as far as social behavior is concerned is to be charming and lie a lot. Fortunately, Sin kind of likes him for that, because she has her own reasons to be charming and lie a lot.)

I really like the way Brennan wrote Nick and the other demon characters. Many writers of urban fantasy or paranormal romance tend to create non-human characters that are really no different from a human. They might exotify the non-human character by making them more aggressive or “predatory,” but what you generally get is a human in a plastic costume. Brennan’s demons are dangerous, inhuman and it is very clear they are wearing a very cheap human costume at the best of times. (It is especially interesting to me that Nick’s solution to the problem is picking one or two humans to keep around so as to distract everyone else from the extreme cheapness of his human costume.)

The conclusion of the book ties up all of the loose ends but still presents the possibility of future complications. (This is due to the solution that stopped the conflict possibly being as bad as the reason for the conflict. I love when books deal with ambiguous morality.) I really enjoyed this book and the two preceding it, and I am definitely going to have to find more books by this author to read.    

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Filed under fantasy, Review: Book, Sarah Rees Brennan, young adult

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