Demon

Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee
Demon by Tosca LeePublisher: B&H
Number of pages: 336
My copy: paperback, ordered from Amazon

Recently divorced and mired in a meaningless existence, Clay drifts from his drab apartment to his equally lusterless job as an editor for a small Boston press — until the night Lucian finds him and everything changes with the simple words, “I’m going to tell you my story, and you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian’s dark tale of love, ambition and grace — only to discover that the demon’s story has become his own.

And then only one thing matters: learning how the story ends.

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What a haunting book. I heard about Tosca Lee from Camy, and after reading about the book on the official website (especially after reading this page) I knew I had to get this book.

Demon: A Memoir gives us a view of the whole Salvation history from another point of view: a demon. It’s kind of creepy at first when you think of it, but like Clay, I got curious. What could a demon know about salvation? What could he possibly tell Clay, and what could Clay possibly gain from all this?

The novel had no frills about it. Clay wasn’t a righteous guy, he wasn’t even religious at all. He’s drifting in his life, finding no meaning until his encounter with Lucian. Tosca draws a very different picture of a demon — not one with an image we know, with horns and bat-like wings, but drawing from the story of the first fall: Lucifer. There were no bargains for the soul for Clay, although it seemed like he almost sold his soul to the devil as he became obsessed with the story.

Lucian was a very interesting character too, taking on a lot of forms of humans because he liked to “test” them out. He started out as a Mediterranean-looking man and then later met Clay as a woman and then a geeky teen — it seemed like he could not get enough of the “clay” people, regardless of age. He was also fascinated with humans eating, and made sure Clay was eating almost every time they met. His hurried manner at some parts of the story makes you wonder who exactly is out to get the demon — Lucifer? Another hoard of demons? But why? And why is he talking to Clay in the first place?

Like I said, it’s a way to view the story of our salvation from another side. It almost comes to a point that I felt some sympathy for Lucian and I wished there was something better for him…and in the same way, it made me realize how lucky I was to be created in God’s image and likeness. How infinite my chances are, how much patience God has for me. How forgiving God is for someone like me who commits the same mistake over and over again. It’s…amazing. And humbling.

The ending of the novel is satisfying in a way that it’s not wrapped in neat bows nor it is terribly disturbing. The book reminds us of a choice that everyone has to make in this life. What will you choose?

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Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me

Lock and Key

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin USA
Number of pages: 432
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and — for the first time — feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s an adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.

* * *

Don’t you think that’s such a pretty cover? There’s really something about Sarah Dessen‘s book covers, and I know how much it appeals to its target audience.

Lock and Key is about Ruby Cooper, who moves into her siser’s place after her mother left her behind to fend for herself. Ruby has gotten used to taking care of herself ever since her sister left and her mom could hardly be counted on. She was so used to not owing anyone for help that when she moved to her sister Cora’s place, all she wanted to do was go back. But her new family was insistent on letting her stay and taking care of her, especially Jamie, Cora’s husband, who wanted to provide a good future for Ruby. Ruby is stuck, and despite all good things happening to her, she couldn’t help but feel wary of all this good fortune. She knows that Cora’s world isn’t her world, but she knew she couldn’t count on her mother anymore. But can she really learn to trust all the other people that’s coming in her life?

All the typical Dessen elements were in the story: Ruby, the sort of troubled child who’s left to fend off for herself; Nate, the cute neighbor who Ruby falls for but then has a secret of his own; Olivia, her classmate who she didn’t really like at first but then became friends with; Harriet, her boss at her job who was even more of a control freak than Ruby. There are also old friends who are only in the book to appear that they’re not really “friends”: Marshall, Ruby’s sort of boyfriend and Peyton, the closest thing she had to a best friend. Though not set in the summer, like other Dessen books were, this one still spanned a couple of months, almost half a school year if I got it right. There’s a lot of looking into the past, and backstories and family events and little symbolisms that made the story poignant.

I liked how Dessen was descriptive with Ruby’s past and everything around her  — from Ruby’s new room to the key that she kept hanging around her neck. The thing about Lock and Key for me, however, is that it read too much like Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos, with the mentally unstable and possibly a drug addict mother leaving the daughter to fend off for herself and someone coming in to save the daughter. I couldn’t help but recall that other novel while reading this one. It’s not entirely the same, but the similarities just feel a bit odd.

But if you’re a Dessen fan, you’ll love all the Easter eggs in this novel. You’ll find a character from almost all of Dessen’s past novels. I especially love it when Kristy and Bert from The Truth About Forever showed up in one scene. :D

Lock and Key is a good read, but I think it’s not really as good as The Truth About Forever or Just Listen or This Lullaby.

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Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me