Monday, 12 December 2011
Review: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: 2nd June 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Nick and his brother Alan are on the run with their mother, who was once the lover of a powerful magician. When she left him, she stole an important charm - and he will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Now Alan has been marked with the sign of death by the magician's demon, and only Nick can save him. But to do so he must face those he has fled from all his life - the magicians - and kill them. So the hunted becomes the hunter...but in saving his brother, Nick discovers something that will unravel his whole past...
Liz from Planet Print bought me this, and insisted it was amazing. Naturally I believed her, but it ended up on my TBR pile until I picked it up a few weeks ago and discovered the absolute amazing-ness that is Sarah Rees Brennan.
I have to start this review by talking about Nick. He's pretty much my perfect male protagonist. Completely morally-bereft, borderline psychopathic, yet utterly smoking hot and sharp-tongued. I absolutely adored him. I identified with him really easily and loved him just as easily. It's funny, because really, you shouldn't love him, he's EVIL. But you do. YOU DO. You love him and you think to yourself 'I could totally fix this boy.' but if you did, he just wouldn't be the same. I've found my new top book boyfriend and I think it'll take a lot to usurp him. Jace? Who's Jace...?
Onto the other characters. Mae's such a feisty female protagonist, but not in that over the top way that sometimes annoys me with heroines.She's fierce and wildly protective of her brother.Her posturing annoyed me at first, the hair, the outfits etc, but by the end I'd forgotten all about that. Jamie is so cute, his humour is hilarious, and yet it felt really realistic. Alan is the only character I had a problem with. In a way, he's almost as psychopathic as his brother, Nick. I found it very hard to like him, yet I don't actively dislike him either, I'm just...wary. I actually really admire Sarah Rees Brennan for her characterisation in these books.I've read a few reviews where people have claimed the characters aren't 'likeable' and they've given low ratings as a result; but really, why does EVERY character in every book HAVE to be likeable? I didn't like Mae and Jamie at first; I thought their imposition into the lives of Nick and Alan was really unacceptable and at first this blinded me to them. Normally, they would have been totally self-sacrificing but no, they were selfish, their actions their motivations, everything was fairly selfish. But this is how people ARE. No one is inherently noble and self-sacrificing, so whilst they irritated me for a while, I appreciated how real they were. I enjoyed that you had to work to like them, it made reading the book less passive and more of an active process on my part.
The plot is so imaginative, I loved that the setting was England, and the urban fantasy leanings were perfect. The concept of the goblin market was intriguing and I loved all the mythology surrounding the demons and the magicians and the talismans. The world Sarah Rees Brennan has created is so rich in detail and yet utterly realistic. I can almost imagine that the goblin market really does exist. The ending was...wow. You think you know exactly where the plot is going, and then suddenly you're hit with twists and turns you really didn't expect. The plot is so, so complex, tiny details early on, minor things hinted at and missed out end up being pivotal in the end and this is excellent storytelling from Sarah Rees Brennan. You can tell a lot of work went into the conception for this novel and I really appreciated that.
I loved Nick's narration, his struggle to be what his brother wanted him to be and his unrelenting dislike of most people. It's weird to empathise with someone who lacks empathy, but you DO feel for Nick throughout this whole book, and then you realise he'd probably kill you if he knew that. The humour as I mentioned is perfect. Nick and Mae have a very dry sense of humour that I really appreciated, and Jamie's quirky babble, whilst irritating at first, really won me over by the end.
I already had the rest of this trilogy, and I think the mark of a good series is when you want to drop everything else and read the rest of it immediately. I was thinking about this book at work, analysing Nick's behaviour, really thinking about the psychology of it, and a book like that, a book that stays with you when you aren't reading it, is a triumph of literature. This has become my absolute favourite Urban Fantasy series, knocking The Mortal Instruments and The Strange Angels series down my rankings. I think it's severely underrated and EVERYONE should be reading this!