Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Personal Demons

PERSONAL DEMONS (Personal Demons #1)
Lisa Desrochers
Paranormal Young Adult
365 Pages
TOR Teen
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

Frannie has always been the type of girl to settle for a guy. She leaves the complicated, good-looking guys for her friend Riley, and likes to keep it simple with the less popular, less drama-potential types. Luc is the very antithesis of all of these qualities. He's gorgeous and dark, and the eyes of every girl in school follow his every move. He incites drama. And unfortunately for Frannie, she finds that this time, she's not content to pass on him for someone less interesting.

Luc is a demon. Sent from Hell itself to tag Frannie's soul so King Lucifer can have access to her rather unique abilities. This should be a simple tag job. Get in, get her to sin, tag her soul for Hell and move on to the next soul and the next mark. Lucifer isn't the only one keeping an eye on Frannie though, and Heaven sends its own representative in the form of Gabriel to tag Frannie's soul for them.

While attempting to thwart Gabriel by spending time with Frannie, Luc begins to realize she's not just another soul to tag, and his job is becoming more and more difficult to execute. For the first time in centuries, he's not entirely sure he wants to succeed at his given task, but where there's one demon in Hell, there's another, and Luc isn't the only one capable of getting the job done.

Personal Demons is like a literary soap opera where drama is omnipresent and the characters make inexplicable decisions that have us rolling our eyes and shaking our heads in dismay, but for all their melodramatic antics and shallow emotional conflicts, we still can't find the strength to tear ourselves away from the pages, compelled to continue on just to see what could possibly happen next. Once we embrace the fact that hormones seem to rule Frannie, and we cast aside her at times irrational choices and constantly fluctuating attraction to Luc and Gabe, there's a good story to be found–one that presents us with a choice between Heaven and Hell that on the surface should be so easy to make, but upon further inspection we realize is more difficult than we could have imagined. If either choice would result in a life that became no longer our own, but one where we were merely the puppet of a powerful entity, could we really accept such a fate for either side, or would the desire to control the outcome of our own lives muddle the clarity of such a decision? While wading through all the romantic entanglements can be tedious, there's something inherently interesting about Personal Demons, a draw emanating predominantly from Luc that lures us in as easily as does its daytime television counterpart, keeping us turning the pages as we find ourselves just as susceptible to the demonic pull as Frannie is.

Frannie is a character who we find ourselves trying desperately to understand, but who remains outside of our ability to fully comprehend. She states repeatedly in a journal she writes to her deceased brother that's she's not the type of girl to lust after boys, but her every action says otherwise as she continually waffles back and forth between her affections for Luc and Gabe, neither of whom has done anything to warrant her interest save looking handsome and setting every teenage girl's heart at school aflutter. Though we are privy to Luc's thoughts and therefore understand some of his vulnerabilities as the story progresses, Frannie has no such access, making her instant and continued attraction to him frustrating when his actions blatantly contradict his thoughts. She is extraordinarily weak-willed, her "love" for either Luc or Gabe depending mostly on whose physical presence she's in at the time, but the potential for growth is clearly present (particularly toward the end), providing a sliver of hope that Frannie may escape the swirling abyss of hormones in which she's currently submerged and step out a woman capable of making sound and thoughtful decisions.

Though Frannie is a bit of an emotional mess, we do get to see a progression toward maturity from Luc, his growing attachment to her having some fascinating effects on his demonic essence. Where he starts out self-serving and devoid of sentimental attachments, seeking Frannie's soul as a means to promote himself and garner favor with King Lucifer, he begins to develop a pesky human conscience that prevents him from being so superficially defined and expands his character into multiple dimensions. He sees what tagging Frannie's soul for Hell will do to her, stripping her of any control over her actions and leaving her an empty husk when Lucifer's work is done, and while our connection to Frannie remains troubled, we can't help but feel for Luc as he struggles with this newfound need to put her well being before his own. Despite being a demon of Hell with a soul of darkness, he is the highlight of this story and the main character with whom we form a character and reader relationship.

Ms. Desrochers has written an enjoyable first installment that initially provides entertainment at face value, but leaves us with the potential for future complexity as the battle between Heaven and Hell rages on. Though the teen angst threatens to swallow us whole and Frannie's romantic indecisiveness inspires many a frustrated snort, we still find ourselves curious as to what fate has in store for all three of them, and we are nonetheless involved in their story as we look forward to to the next escapades of a mortal girl, her demonic suitor, and his angelic competition.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Wow, I really couldn't have said it better, Jenny! I had virtually the exact same reaction to this book. I particularly found Frannie's "whichever one I'm with" attitude to be very frustrating as she waffled between Luc and Gabe. I did enjoy Luc's character and the development we get to see through the chapters from his perspective — indeed, he really carried the book for me. I couldn't get a good feel for Gabe at all, but then we don't get his perspective...still, his interactions with Frannie are limited and the attraction on both sides seemed to be quite shallow. I hope in the sequel Frannie learns to be more decisive and less prone to being ruled entirely by hormones! Anyway, fantastic review :)

  2. Completely agree. Frannie was a little fustrated and I thought Luc was the standout character in this series. Another brilliant review :)

  3. Great review, Jenny! Honestly, I was very disappointed in the book. Frannie frustrated me a lot.

  4. You were a lot more generous than I was when reviewing this book. I never did find Frannie a character I cared about, and Gabe was about as one dimensional as a character could be. Luc's growth was about the only thing that helped me get through this read.

  5. Team Luc !! =) Great review Jenny !! I really liked this book but it's not a "loved" .. but I'll definitely read the sequel !

  6. I REALLY need to get this book. People talk about it like crazy and I feel like I am way behind!

    Great review!

  7. I love Luc! He is so great! Also the name thing with the girls had me laughing like crazy :) Great review :)

  8. Great review, Jenny! You were kinder to this book than I was too! While I loved the premise of this one, it just didn't work for me at all. I found the character of Frannie to be totally unlikeable. All the characters were a bit flat and one-dimensional really, save for Luc, who did have his good points.

    I think there were too many things I didn't like about this one to justify picking up the next in the series, but, you never know! :)

  9. I've been wanting to read this one. Frannie sounds kind of crazy. The Luc-Gabe-Frannie triangle sounds rather stereotypical from your basic description. Do you think it managed to go beyond the stereotype? Sounds like a book that I'll enjoy as long as I don't expect too much from it.

  10. I've actually seen a LOT of bad reviews for this one, which is why I keep holding off reading it. That said, I'm sold on your review, so I think I'll have to give it a go! Great thoughts, Jenny...I love how fair and balanced you always are :)

  11. You definitely said it better than me. I struggled with this book as well, although I will admit that it was entertaining in a soap opera kind of way. I don't think I am going to read the sequel. Great review, Jenny!

  12. Thanks for this review. It doesn't seem like this book is for me.

  13. A really well written, balanced, and honest review, Jenny. Frannie would really get on my nerves with lots of the angst, impulsive behavior, and hormone driven decisions. Luc, however, sounds really interesting and quite mature. I'll put this on my tbr list, but I'm not rushing to get to it.

  14. I never knew that this was a teen book! I always saw it every where and just assumed that it was an adult PNR... Hmmm... Being a teen novel I am more inclined to read it- must add it to my TBR list! Thanks for the great (and honest) review Jenny!

  15. I've seen a bunch of reviews, but they've often been in contradiction and I wasn't sure what to think. Your review makes everything a lot clearer. I can see the complains of other readers, but you also nicely outlined the strengths of the book as well. I feel like I have a much clearer picture of this book now thanks to your review. I still want to read it, but I'm now prepared for Frannie and have a better idea of what to expect.

  16. Danya - Exactly, Frannie was a mess for me, but I liked Luc:) I had no opinion on Gabe just because he wasn't really present, maybe he'll be more substantial in the next one:)

    Nic - Thanks! Luc was the highlight, I could have done without some of the other characters:)

    Misha - She frustrated me as well, but I went in having read other reviews and knew she was going to be irritating, so it didn't ruin the book for me when she was:)

    Jan - I could appreciate it for the soap opera-ness of it all, I just didn't take it to seriously and therefore wasn't as disappointed as I would have been otherwise:)

    Elodie - I'm actually looking forward to the sequel, I want to know what's going to happen with Luc!

    Two Readers - This book definitely gets people talking! I enjoyed it, teen angst and drama and all:)

    Savy - I'm a Luc fan as well, I couldn't even begin to develop feelings for Gabe because there wasn't much there to work with!

    Leanna - I agree, Frannie was hard to relate to and I didn't care much for her, but I did like Luc. I'm hoping now that her hormones have been working overtime, she might mellow in the next book and be a bit more rational:)

    Alison - Wrote you an email:)

    Melissa - Thank you, I try to be fair. This wasn't my favorite book, but it had some good moments for me:)

    Christina - Exactly, I approached it like I do watching something like General Hospital - you know absurdity is going to happen and you can just nod and smile when it does:)

    Pam - Definitely not for everyone, a lot of people will be super irritated at all the teen drama. I knew it was going to be like that when I started, so it didn't bother me as much.

    Rummanah - Thank you! Frannie will definitely get on your nerves, she's ridiculous at times. Luc doesn't start out mature, but he grows into an interesting character:)

    Avery - Yep, paranormal YA:) I'd be interested to see what you thought!

    Small - Thank you, that was the goal on this one. I think if you approach it without too much seriousness, it will be a fun, somewhat absurd, read:)

  17. Ha Jenny!

    Have you ever watched 28 Days Later? Where a Rage virus makes everyone into mindless killers?

    Ummm.. what was my point. Oh, yeah... I often feel that YA teen girls of today are infected with a Hormone virus. Which really, who can blame them when beautiful boys are dueling for their affections? But it can be a bit frustrating and soap operay. LOL

    I've got this book on my shelves, just need to make time for it.

  18. I liked Luc. That was about it :-)Great review as alaways!

  19. Missie - Couldn't agree more, there is definitely a hormone virus plaguing YA novels! I just laughed it off and moved on, and that made the reading of this one pretty enjoyable:)

    Karen - Luc was the standout for me, Frannie I wanted to throttle:)

  20. Excellent review!

    This book sounds like it would annoy the hell out of for the indecisiveness of the leading lady, but, knowing me, I'd probably still get into this book.


  21. I do think this would be too much teen angst for me ;)

  22. It occurred to me while I was reading your review that this concept of battling between the light and the dark--or Heaven and Hell, depending on the author's p.o.v.--is really popular in YA fiction right now. I guess it's kind of inevitable when you have so many angel-based stories like Unearthly, Hush, the Madison Avery books, A Touch Mortal and Fallen Angel. I'm trying to decide how I feel about all these stories that place the fate of battles of good and evil on the shoulders of young women. On the one hand--go girl power. On the other, if the girl makes the wrong choice (though, in fiction, she inevitably won't), doesn't that make the whole situation a little Eve and the apple-ish?

  23. Perhaps not for me, so thanks for the great, honest and detailed review Jenny! :)

  24. I don't know about her hormone situation. Might annoy me, but I do love the choices and the fact that she matures. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on this one, but you really gave me more pause. I'm going to have to get this one!

  25. I don't read demon stuff but I continue to hear pretty good things about this one. Awesome review :)

  26. Amateur - Thank you! She is definitely annoying at times, but I just embraced it and then it didn't bother me so much:)

    Blodeuedd - It might be. It would have been for me if I wasn't fully aware of all the angst going in.

    Rubita - You make a very good point, that's definitely a lot of pressure for one person! Amps up the drama though:)

    Blueicegal - You're welcome, glad it helped!

    Melissa - You will be annoyed, I guarantee it. I still liked it though, it was like reading a guilty pleasure:)

    Juju - Thanks:)

  27. I've seen both positive and negative reviews for this one and even had Personal Demons on my wishlist for a while until I realized that Frannie was a really indecisive character when it came to romance. I'm just not in the mood these days to deal with angsty characters but I'll keep this one in mind for when I am up for something soap operaish.

  28. I like your honest review. I've been hesitant about reading this book. It's been on my TBR shelf for a while now. I'm interested in reading it, but some of the angel books are starting to blur together. I also get tired of all the drama. Even still, I'm willing to check it out. But maybe put it off for a little longer. LOL

  29. I love your reviews, Jenny - they are always honest, yet diplomatic. I always look to you for suggestions on where to go to next with books like this - thanks for your thoughts!

  30. Hi Jenny,
    It's been a while since I've stopped by but I thought it's FF day so now's a good time :-) I've heard pretty bad reviews for this one, and I'm extremely fastidious when it comes to Heaven/Hell stories, but I liked your honesty and the fact that despite some of the soap opera-ish elements, you were able to identify which parts of the book worked, and why, as with Luc's character starting to understand the consequences of what his 'tagging' of Frannie could do. Anyway, another great review, and I look forward to stopping by again :-)


  31. I really want to read this one! I hadn't even heard of it, but now: wow. It looks incredible! One more to add to my Wanted pile!

    Thanks for your comment! I love how real Rose feels, and I'd really like to be her! Adrian's a sweetie, but, I'm Team Dimka! I can't wait to finish Last Sacrifice, but I also don't want to... Am I making any sense?

    Back on track: brilliant review, and this book looks amazing!

  32. Great review hon! Its sounds like a nice book! I'll prob wait for more books in the series come out, before I read it hehe

  33. Great review, Jenny! I think I'll be adding Personal Demons to my ever growing TBR pile :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!