Publisher: Balzer + Bray (2011)
Format: Hardcover | 379 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
WARNING: Contains minor SPOILERS!Description (GR): "Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king."
You know those books that are so beautiful you just have to have them? Yep, "Possess" by Gretchen McNeil is one of those. The cover is gorgeous, with its shimmering blue color, the graphic work on the model's face, the simple but elegant lettering. I am a sucker for a pretty cover (lol). And since the story itself seemed quite gripping - not to mention the fact that lots of people seem to have loved the book - I thought I should give it a try. So I bought this.
It was a decent first effort, I'll recognize as much. And bonus points to the author for not falling into the usual romantic clichés: the insta-love and the love triangle. Plus, the idea was interesting enough, I suppose.
But (yes, there are a few buts)... it wasn't as good as it could have been. As I was reading, the word "disjointed" kept flashing in my mind. It's a good word to describe this book I think. There are too many random things happening in the book, situations seem to happen out of order or for no discernable reason and the characters are developed weirdly, in a way that makes them seem like completely different people in the end. No, I don't mean that they grow and develop, I mean they do things that are almost... out of character.
The plot was pretty predictable (the villain? Yeah, I knew who he was early on), even if the reader basically 'crashes' into the middle of the story and is treated to a few flashbacks that explain certain things that happened before. Basically, Bridget Liu has some strange 'powers' and is being coached on how to use them by a priest. Of course, as the book opens Bridget already dealt with all these issues so she's a ready-made heroine that jumps into the action five pages in. This did not work for me. It would have worked better if the book started with Bridget discovering her powers or if Bridget had known about them all along.
The way we're introduced to McNeil's (or Bridget's) world is too abrupt. The relationships and dynamics between all the important characters are already established (except for Father Santos) in a way that just didn't sit well with me. Alright, so it didn't bother me very much when I was reading about Hector's and Bridget's friendship because after all, all teenagers have friends. It did bother me in the case of Bridget and Matt's relationship or Bridget and Monsignor Renault. These should have been explored differently.
Another aspect that kind of ruined the book for me: the romance. Okay, I said there was no insta-love, yes, but it was still a very 'out of the blue' kind of thing... Bridget goes from thinking her love interest is slightly annoying to loving him (yes, love).
Overall: "Possess" was by no means a bad read, but I was expecting more. It was, as I mentioned before, a little disjointed and even a bit hard to get into. Some scenes seemed random, the story was predictable and the supernatural aspects could have been better explored. The characters' behaviour was a bit odd at times, they almost seemed OOC if that makes sense. The romance was not very well developed. An average read that will nonetheless appeal to fans of paranormal young adult novels.