American Monsters (Demon Road Trilogy #3)

american-monstersBook: American Monsters

Author: Derek Landy

I was really excited to read this book as it’s the final book in the Demon Road Trilogy and I really wanted to see how Derek Landy wrapped everything up. I have to say though, that unfortunately I was a little underwhelmed. The plot was confused and seemed to jump around a lot, there were new characters introduced all over the place, which I think is a big no in the last book of a series and it just all seemed a little messy to me. Don’t get me wrong, there were good parts to this book as well, but it’s definitely the weakest instalment in the series. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Bigger, meaner, stronger.

Amber closes in on her murderous parents as they make one last desperate play for power. Her own last hopes of salvation, however, rest beyond vengeance, beyond the abominable killers – living and dead – that she and Milo will have to face.

For Amber’s future lies in her family’s past, in the brother and sister she never knew, and the horrors beyond imagining that befell them. 

The gross out factor did not go down in this book, the bogles may be the grossest monsters I’ve ever read about, they were horrible! I felt sick for about the first three chapters not gonna lie and there are lots of other gross and creepy things that happen throughout the book. I have come to accept however that I’m never going to get through a Derek Landy book without being grossed out! The clown especially freaked me out, I really hate clowns!

It was interesting seeing Amber doing her job as the Shining Demon’s representative, but I did feel like she moaned a lot during this book which I didn’t really appreciate and I found the whole thing with her demon self (it makes more sense when you read the book) slightly weird. She also did a lot of stupid things whilst being the Shining Demon’s representative and I just wanted to yell at her to stop.

There were a few new characters introduced who I didn’t feel were important to the story, like Clarissa, this homeless girl that Amber meets, I didn’t understand her function. Also the Gundersons, I had no clue who they were and Sutton and Byrd, the FBI agents (they might have been introduced in Desolation, I honestly don’t remember), I didn’t understand why they were there either and I felt like in the last book Derek Landy shouldn’t have been introducing all these new characters. It also really bugged me that we still don’t have a map! This is a road trip book, I need a map damn it!

There were lots of good action sequences but I felt like there were so many of these that I sometimes got confused as to exactly what had happened and sometimes a story was introduced and it felt like it was never really resolved (like with Elias Mauk and his house full of people he was going to kill, I don’t really know what happened there?).

I loved seeing Kelly and the gang back again, as I really liked their addition in the last book and I was excited to see what happened with her and Amber. The resolution of the gang’s storyline did not make me happy (damn you Landy) but I did love what happened with Amber and Kelly, it was really nice to see a lesbian storyline as I feel like you don’t really see that too much (or at least I haven’t read many books with lesbian couples) and I feel like they really complement each other well. There were a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming which I really liked.

I was so glad that there was more of Glen in this book as I love Glen and I felt like that helped with the humour in this book, which I thought was much improved from Desolation, I found myself laughing out loud more often than I had in the last two books. I didn’t understand how Glen knew Amber was a lesbian though unless I missed something in Desolation. I loved that the dynamic between Glen and Milo from the first book was brought back her also as it was one of my favourite things from the first book.

Whilst Amber’s character did annoy me at points during the book, I really appreciated that in this book, Landy finally showed her being more comfortable in her own skin and accepting herself the way that she is because it’s something I’ve been wanting all series!

I liked that we finally got to see Amber’s brother and sister in this one but I would have appreciated it if instead of all of the random plots that didn’t really make sense, Landy had focused more on Amber finding out her brother and sister and killing her parents, the plot kind of seemed to go in lots of random directions until we finally got to the end point and it wasn’t really cohesive.

Everything was wrapped up okay in the end, the characters all did what they needed too and everything, but it all just felt a little anti-climactic. When Skulduggery Pleasant ended I was really sad, but this just felt……like okay it’s over? I mean I’m very mad at Derek Landy for what he did to a certain character whose name I’m not mentioning, but other than that, I didn’t feel much about the ending of this book. The last chapter also felt really out of place.

Overall, this last instalment was pretty underwhelming, whilst I felt like the humour was better, the plot felt confused, everything felt too rushed and the ending was incredibly anti-climactic, it’s not what I expected from the conclusion of a Derek Landy series at all, The Dying Of The Light was so much more explosive. I think the book could maybe have benefitted from being a tad longer and a little more focused and maybe the fact that this one came out so soon after the last one kind of hindered it. Unfortunately, a very underwhelming conclusion to what has been a very mixed trilogy.

My rating: 3/5

My next review will be of the latest instalment in the Throne of Glass series, Empire of Storms (EEEEEE!).

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Desolation (Demon Road #2)

DesolationBook: 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.

Demon Road (Demon Road #1) Review

demon roadBook: Demon Road (Demon Road #1)

Author: Derek Landy

I have to admit, I was really nervous about reading this book because I love Derek Landy’s debut series Skulduggery Pleasant so much that I thought this book could never live up to my now extremely high expectations. I am happy to say though, that I really enjoyed this book. The characters were cool, the setting was awesome (I was slightly worried about him changing from an Irish to an American setting but it was perfect for this book, gave it so much more scope) and the humour, whilst initially lacking, ended up being on-point Landy. I flew through this book pretty quickly, I mean it helped that I had a lot of free time after my exam finished, but I reckon even if I hadn’t this would have been a book that I couldn’t have put down. It turns out that demons are just as awesome as skeleton detectives! Here’s a short synopsis of the book:

Full of Landy’s trademark wit, action and razor sharp dialogue, DEMON ROAD kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in…Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…

First off, I guess I should talk about the main heroine Amber. I really liked her, actually more than I liked Valkyrie. She’s average looking, overweight, awkward, kind of nerdy, far more of an every girl than Valkyrie and I could definitely relate to the awkward nerdy thing! She also makes some very stupid decisions, which I wanted to scream at her for, but again, I think that makes her more relatable. Oh and did I mention that she’s a demon? That’s awesome! I mean she goes around killing people but then she also feels bad about it, a demon with a conscience. I really liked that, her struggle between her normal teenage form and her demon form. A lot of this book, she’s struggling to figure out who she is and that’s very relatable to a lot of teenagers (although admittedly without the whole demon thing). She’s very endearing, she has a good sense of humour, she blabbers on a lot and yet she’s also this awesome demon who can take care of herself and doesn’t need to be rescued. She’s the perfect balance between kickass heroine and normal teenager. I was glad the demon reveal didn’t take too long, because we knew it was coming from the title of the book, so it would have been really irritating if we’d had to wait ages for something that we already knew to be revealed. She was particularly funny after she’d eaten someone (in her demon form) and was stumbling around, kind of drunk in a way. Anyway it was hilarious!

Milo I liked but he was definitely the straight man of the book, no sense of humour, kind of mysterious, you didn’t really know that much about him for most of the book. I was glad when his secrets were finally revealed because I had guessed at them already much earlier in the book. He was nice and all but I didn’t feel like I really got a good sense of his personality. Hopefully that comes through a bit more in the next book.

I didn’t really get what the deal with Imelda was, whether she just felt guilty for what her and Amber’s parents and their friends had done, or if it was something more than that, but by the end of the book, I figured she really did just feel guilty and she had formed an attachment to Amber which was why she didn’t want her parents to eat her. I felt really bad for what happened to her at the end, she didn’t deserve it.

The humour I felt was a little lacking, the humour in Skulduggery Pleasant felt a lot more natural whereas it didn’t so much in this book. Initially, the trademark Landy humour didn’t really seem to be there at all, but as the book got into it’s stride, there was definitely more. It still wasn’t quite as good as the Skulduggery Pleasant humour. Once Glen was introduced, the humour definitely increased! He was such an adorable doofus and I really loved him! I was really upset by what happened to him, hopefully he comes back in the next book in some way because he was my definite favourite character in this book. He was so sweet and endearing and goofy and I really loved him (though not going to lie, I’d probably want to slap him if I knew him in real life because I reckon what I found endearing in the book, I’d find annoying in real life!). I loved the dynamic between Glen, Milo and Amber, they make a great threesome, and whilst I still enjoyed the book when he wasn’t a part of it, I definitely enjoyed the parts that he was in more. The scene where he and Amber meet was so hilarious, I laughed so hard at that!

As part of their travels, they meet a serial killer called Dacre Shanks and it sounds weird to say, but I actually really liked him. Okay, so he was awful and devious and evil but he was also kind of funny and I really enjoyed his scenes! I felt really bad for poor Heather Medina (someone they meet whilst on the road), she has been through so much and goes through so much as a result of Amber, Milo and Glen coming to town, I felt really sorry for her. I found the dollhouse aspect of the Dacre Shanks storyline really creepy, but maybe that’s because I’ve watched too much Pretty Little Liars (fans of the show will know what I mean!). Still you want a serial killer to be creepy and Shanks definitely fit the bill.

There was definitely no lack of action scenes in this book, in fact there were lots of really great ones, but the book was nicely paced, so it wasn’t non-stop action all the time, but equally, it wasn’t just them in the car all the time either otherwise that would have been boring. There was also a nice mix of longer and shorter chapters, which definitely helped with the pacing. I have seen some reviews that said the book was too long, but I didn’t feel like that, I thought it was perfect.

Initially the book was just creepy enough, without being too stomach turning but there were some rather gory parts in the latter half that were a little difficult for me to read. But hey, it wouldn’t be a Derek Landy book if it didn’t turn my stomach at least once!

One thing I was missing was a map. Every good road trip book should have a map, and every time they went somewhere I found myself wanting to look to the front of the book and refer to a map and there wasn’t one! It’s not a big thing, I just feel like a map would have helped me a lot in figuring out where they were. I’m not American, I’m not all that familiar with the states aside from the ones that I’ve been to, so a map would have helped me out a lot. Besides what book isn’t improved by a map?

I was really confused by what happened to Gregory Buxton, either I skimmed over that bit or it just wasn’t confirmed what happened to him. It’s not a big deal, I’d just like to know I guess.

There was no romance here at all! It was so refreshing, I love it when I read a book and there turns out to be no romance whatsoever, it’s great. I mean romance would have been a little out of place anyway, so I’m glad Derek Landy didn’t try to force any in.

The Charger was awesome! A car with personality? It was something I never knew I needed in my life! I never thought I’d love a car, but the car was like another character in this book, it was great.

Overall, whilst I wouldn’t say that I loved, loved, loved this book in the same way that I loved Skulduggery Pleasant, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was a really fun read, with characters that I really enjoyed reading about, and once it got into it’s stride, it was classic, trademark Landy. All I would say is that I hope there is more humour in the next book, but all in all, I really enjoyed this one and I’m really excited to read Desolation!

My Rating: 4/5

My next review will be of Demon Road’s sequel Desolation as I already have it and I can’t wait to see what happens next!