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The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan; Review

July 2, 2010

Title: The Demon’s Lexicon

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Published: April, 2010 by Simon & Schuster

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 3/5

Take Note (or don’t, but I’d appreciate if you’d read this): For at least this post, I’m going to employ Goodreads’ synopsis of the book. The synopses are always the most difficult for me to write. That’s my main motivation for copying, however, a friend of mine (Sara), has a better way of thinking about it:

I like to share the synopsis that made me pick up the book. Or made me wary of picking it up!”

So, mull over that while reading the copied version. Please let me know if you’re fine with this new way of doing things!

Quote:

My life was going to flash before my eyes, but it decided to hide behind my eyes and quake with terror instead.”

Synopsis:

Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick’s mother stole — a charm that keeps her alive — and they want it badly enough to kill again.

Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon’s mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase…and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is des-perate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians’ Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

This is the Demon’s Lexicon. Turn the page. [From Goodreads]

Review:

Yet another book for which I have mixed feelings. Not mixed the way combination pizzas end up mixed (where does the pepper and and the onion begin?!), but mixed as a fruit smoothie is mixed. You couldn’t separate the ingredients if you tried with a strainer, chopsticks, and a defibrillator. (I have absolutely no idea what you could do with those things anyway.)

I found fault with Nick’s character. By page twenty, I firmly believed that there was no way the author could persuade me to like him by the end of the book. My friends, after a few rants of mine on Twitter, assured me that Nick is wonderful/awesome/a great main character, and that I had to reach the end to fully understand the cause behind their enthusiasm. Needless to say, I reached the end. I did understand the cause behind their adamant “he’s awesome”s, but I still can’t join in. I was happy to find out that he has some redeeming qualities, but I’m left grasping at the very little number of said qualities. I hope that his character develops further in the second book, which I hope to check out from the library soon. Overall, I’d say the book’s most major downfall was its main character. In blunt terms, he’s surly, uncaring, unsympathetic, rude, cruel, disrespectful, and has a nasty sense of humor – not to mention (which, you’ll notice, we always say before mentioning) murderous at times. Sound fun? These personality “quirks” are slightly justified, but that doesn’t make it enjoyable to read from his POV.

I also felt that the pace was a bit slow for the first half of the book. It didn’t help that I wasn’t enjoying Nick’s thoughts very much, and that I thought the tense was awkward. It wasn’t until I was halfway to three-quarters through the book that I truly began to enjoy myself.

The bits of the “culture” of this fantasy world that I saw were intriguing and occasionally beautiful (though sometimes in a creepy, disturbed kind of way). I loved the visit to the Goblin Market. If I went into further detail, I’d probably pass over into spoiler territory, so I’ll resist. Let’s leave it at: It was fascinating.

I think the motivation behind my rating this book 3/5 as opposed to 2/5 has to do with Mae. I loved her, and I’m incredibly grateful that book two in this trilogy is supposed to deal more with her story. She was spunky, strong, and kind. I was happy to have her as the womankind representative in this book dominated mostly by men. I believe that most readers will like her from the start because she radiates a sort of confidence that is irresistible when found in anybody with half a heart and half a brain (which, let’s admit, makes a decent enough person).

There are a couple advantages to a surly, unlikable MC:

  1. Nearly every other character seems to be best-friend material
  2. Whenever they say anything nice, you experience a surge of happiness that will keep you reading

In the end, I appreciated that Sarah explained the cause behind Nick’s personality further and gave us a collection of side-characters that are easily loved. And Nick did grow as a character in increments. However, I’m looking forward to a book from Mae’s personality a lot more. It’ll be a relief to spend time with someone… pleasant.

I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book, but that fact that I’m eager to read the sequel goes to show how much I understand my feelings! If you’re into fantasy and books with a w-i-d-e range of characters, this book is for you. If you hated Gone With the Wind because of Scarlet, I’d pass.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 5:53 AM

    I just want to agree with the above reviewer! The second book feels so different and the world itself, along with all the characters, come across so differently to the reader because of the POV switch. Mae is everything Nick isn’t–loving, invested, drawn to the world they’re in and not repelled. And it makes such a difference in the way you read the book.

    I’m one of those readers who loved Lexicon (and I appreciated it so much more when I re-read it, which I hadn’t expected to do given that I knew all the spoilers the second time around–but it really surprised me and carried me away and made me feel closer to all the characters, including Nick, than I had before).

    But while I loved the first book, I loved Covenant. It is probably a desert island pick for me at this point out of all the YA fiction I’ve read. I just – *flail* – would strongly urge anyone to read it–*especially* if they love Mae. 🙂

  2. Miranda permalink
    July 2, 2010 5:05 PM

    Very good review! I felt just like you, but stuck with it to the end, and I’m so glad I did. Hope you’ll give the second book a shot. I love the world-building and characters in this series.

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