Book: Desolation (Demon Road #2)
Author: Derek Landy
I’ll admit that at first I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Demon Road. It definitely suffered a little from middle book syndrome and I think also suffered a little because it was all set in one place? One of the great things about Demon Road was the road trip aspect with Amber and Milo moving around and encountering new foes in each place they went and Desolation was all set in one place, Desolation Hill. It was definitely slower paced than Demon Road, there were action sequences at the start but then it was all a lot slower until the halfway point when things picked up again. I would have preferred it if the action sequences were more evenly spaced through the novel especially since when all the action was lumped together at the end, the alternating POVs and ramped up intensity made the story a little difficult to follow at times. The gore was also less in the first half of the book, though rest assured, this ramps up later on, which I probably could have lived without, but it’s a Derek Landy novel, it was inevitable and it would feel wrong if I wasn’t sick to my stomach at least once during reading!
I definitely missed Glen! He was my favourite character in Demon Road and the main source of humour and I felt like something was missing from this book without him. I also thought the dynamic between Amber and Milo worked better when there was a third person for them to bounce off of, without him, the dynamic is very one sided since Milo is very surly and doesn’t talk much. He kind of seemed like he was just there to get Amber out of a sticky situation and I wish he had been more than just a plot device in this book.
It’s clear from the start that the police of Desolation Hill are very shady, I particularly hated Novak, the Chief of Police and did not feel at all bad for what happened to him! The reason why the police of Desolation Hill are so shady is revealed later in the book and I was surprised by why, one of several things that surprised me about this book (that was one thing that I liked about the book, I didn’t see any of the surprises or plot twists coming), but it made sense. It is safe to say I would be scared of Desolation Hill’s police force. I also didn’t understand why the citizens of Desolation Hill were so cold to outsiders at first, but this is revealed through the story.
There were some great action sequences in the book, initially at the start and then in the latter half. I particularly liked the action sequence where Amber and Milo were running away from the Hounds of Hell, that was really exciting, and their fight with the Narrow Man, that was also particularly memorable. I also really enjoyed Hell Night, it was built up from the beginning of the novel and it did not disappoint!
There were some new characters, Kelly, Linda, Ronnie and Warrick who are basically this book’s version of the Scooby gang (yes they have a dog and a van) and Javier and Virgil, who are two old retired actors. I wasn’t sure about them at first because I thought they were just random characters taking away from Amber and Milo’s story, but the stories did join up in the end. I especially enjoyed Warrick because he was quite funny and added some humour to the story (which I actually think ended up being better in this book than in Demon Road). I also liked the different interactions between Amber and Milo and the new characters, I thought they worked well as a group.
The mayor of Desolation Hill, Jesper was a psycho! Who would let that happen to their town all for personal power? Definitely think he got what he deserved.
I liked Milo more in this book than I did in the last book, but I still feel like I can’t entirely connect to him. I think it might be because of his amnesiac past, we still don’t really know anything about him, so it’s hard to build a connection and as a reader, connecting to the characters I read about is an important step in liking them! I know that a lot of the readers of this series do like Milo, but I guess I’m just not seeing it yet? He’s not a bad character, I just don’t love him as much as everyone else seems to. I would like to find out more about his past, as I feel this may help me connect to him more.
There was a good mix of longer and shorter chapters which I liked because it means that I don’t get bogged down and bored by too many long chapters in a row, but equally I don’t speed through the book because the chapters are too short.
I kept forgetting that the Hounds of Hell were guys on motorbikes and not dogs! It sounds silly, but I couldn’t help it, every time the name Hounds of Hell were mentioned I kept thinking of big Dobermans riding on motorbikes which meant that I found the Hounds funnier than I probably should have (since they’re meant to be scary!) but this wasn’t really a writing problem, this was just a personal thing! I mean it was a lot funnier to imagine them being actual dogs on motorbikes, maybe he should have done it that way!
I hate Amber’s parents, yes they’re horrible and emotionally abusive people, but I have to admit, I find them damn funny, they’re really entertaining villains, both scary and funny, which is basically my perfect villain. We get to find out a little bit more about Amber’s dead siblings in this book as well, so I’ll be interested to see how that goes in the next book as it’s clear from the synopsis in the back of Desolation that they will play a role. I also think the dynamic between Amber and her parents is really interesting, because it’s clear that Amber loves her parents (or at least loved them once) and is conflicted because they’re evil demons and they’ve never really cared about her and on their end, it’s interesting because it seems like they’re determined to hate her and yet in some twisted way they’re kind of proud of her, so that tension creates a very interesting dynamic between the three of them.
I wasn’t sure about Virgil at first because I couldn’t quite understand why Derek Landy had introduced him, he didn’t seem to have anything to do with Amber and Milo’s story, but once the stories interconnected all the characters met, I liked him a lot more and by the end of the book I really liked his character and was sad by what happened to him. I also really liked his relationship with Javier, the back and forth banter between them was classic Landy, their dynamic was great and I found them both really funny. I love the generational thing Derek Landy has going on his stories, in this book there are characters ranging in age from 12-80ish (not counting the over 100 year old demons) which I think is really cool because that doesn’t happen in many books.
Amber’s (and for that matter everyone else’s) constant insistence that she is more beautiful and generally better as a demon and that her human self is ugly and worthless really irked at me. I mean I get that she has low self esteem because her parents were distant and reinforced her own feelings of self loathing but it bothered me that everyone else in the book reinforced the idea that she was better as a demon. I mean Milo does briefly tell her to accept her awesomeness, which I appreciated but the only one who really tells her that that she’s beautiful as a human is Kelly. I feel like people need to stop reinforcing her self-loathing behaviour and help increase her confidence. It’s definitely relatable as a teenage girl to feel some sort of self loathing about your appearance, but Amber really needs some confidence boosting!
This is a great point to segue into the romance aspect of this novel. It’s a tiny aspect of the book, definitely not the main focus, but there is a little bit there. There’s a bit of controversy over this particular romance because Kelly is described as being 19-20 and so is an adult and Amber is only 16 and some of the reviewers on Goodreads see this as an adult trying to take advantage of a child, but I don’t really see it that way. Kelly doesn’t force Amber into anything, their kiss is consensual (yes I’m sorry for spoilers but I felt like I needed to talk about this) and the way I see it, 3-4 years is not that big of an age gap, it’s not like she’s 40 and Amber’s 12 or whatever and I don’t think Kelly was manipulating her at all, she’s the only person who sees her as beautiful in her human form and I think she could be really good for helping her self-confidence. It did kind of come out of nowhere, granted, but I think if this romance is developed well, it could be really good. Plus they only shared one romantic scene and it gave me the shippy feels, so I hope this relationship is developed more in the next book. I also liked the sense of awkwardness on Amber’s end, my own first kiss was not all that long ago, and I can totally relate to her feelings of awkwardness, I thought that was done well. Plus it made for a nice bonding moment between Milo and Amber which I appreciated. I look forward to seeing where this goes in the next book.
The citizens of Desolation Hill are kind of crazy, especially when it comes to Hell Night, but then, the town of Desolation is really kooky and creepy so it fits that the people who live there wouldn’t be ordinary!
Amber’s nightmares are particularly creepy, but I kind of liked that because it shows that what happened in the previous book has had a serious effect on her, which I liked because you don’t come out of your parents wanting to eat you and hounds of hell chasing you and serial killers wanting to kill you with no after effects, so I appreciated the authenticity of that.
I still like Amber in spite of her self esteem issues which sometimes irk me, she’s far less arrogant (in her human form) and far more relatable to me than Valkyrie was in the Skulduggery Pleasant books and when she was on the verge of death several times during the book, I definitely felt like I wanted her to survive everything she went through in the book which is a good sign that you are connected to a main character, I think!
I liked the myth of the Narrow Man that went along with the whole Hell Night storyline and I thought all that tied together really neatly & there were some surprises in that storyline that I didn’t see coming.
There were again some really graphic scenes involving Amber’s demon self eating people in this book which not going to lie, kind of mind me sick, I still can’t get used to that whole aspect of demon culture, the eating people is disgusting! These books are definitely not for the faint of stomach and the gore has been turned up a notch from Skulduggery Pleasant, so warning to those who aren’t big on gore, this has a lot, it’s definitely more at the upper end of YA than the lower end.
There were some bits in the story that didn’t really seem to fit and I was kind of confused why they were there, this was mostly at the end when the action was going a little too fast and the POVs were jumping around a lot and I was confused how certain characters got from A to B which isn’t really a big deal, but it did confuse me for a moment and I had to flick back to work out how the characters got from where they were before to where they were in that chapter which as a reader was a bit disconcerting.
I did not see the ending coming at all! I thought it was a good ending and opens up a lot of possibilities for the next book. That along with the possibilities opened up by exploring Amber’s dead siblings and the Amber/Kelly relationship, makes me really excited for the next book. I feel like it’s going to be on the road again which I like, as I felt like this book kind of stagnated by being just in one location.
I definitely preferred Demon Road to this book and I think this book suffered a lot from middle book syndrome, but I did generally enjoy it and think that it’s setting up for a hopefully exciting conclusion to the trilogy!
My Rating: 3.5/5
My next review will be of my latest #RockMyTBR book Graceling, which I just started reading yesterday.