Book Review: Devilish by Maureen Johnson

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I have to admit something to all of you. When I first picked this book up from my pile of award nominees I had very low expectations for it. I thought it was going to be terrible. I really did. I’m not sure why I thought this. Perhaps it had to do with the cover, which, while perfectly fitting for the story itself, would never have grabbed my interest in the book store–not in a million years. This has a lot to do with the fact that the story is more aimed, in my opinion, towards teenage girls. It is, after all, from the viewpoint of a high school girl, dealing with high school romances, friend problems, and other typical teenage dramas. Therefore, the cover had to reflect the target audience.
I am so happy that I was horribly and idiotically wrong about this novel. It was fantastic. So good, even, that at times I wished I had a valid excuse not to go to work. I read it over the course of the last three days (finished it last night), reading at work during break and an hour each night. I didn’t want to put it down, but I had to. I wanted to continue on. I wanted to get to the end so bad because I wanted to know everything that happened.
What makes this novel so good? Johnson’s writing style, or at least how she writes the first person narrative of the main character Jane. It’s that perfect style that tells you exactly what you need to know about the character–she’s a teenager, smart, and downright sarcastic and hilarious. Her style is strong throughout. I found myself giggling internally–I don’t generally laugh out loud when reading or express much of any emotion…that’s just the norm for me.
The story is this:
Jane attends a religious prep school with her best friend Allison. Jane is, well, to put it simply, an academic genius. But she’s not without her faults–she tends to get in trouble a lot. Allison is clumsy, throws up when put under pressure, and altogether quirky and odd. Then one day, after a terrible disaster where Allison throws up all over a freshman in the gym, Allison returns to school a completely different person. She’s so different that she’s answering questions during class, and correctly, she’s wearing new clothes and has new confidence. To make things worse, she’s just stolen Jane’s ex-boyfriend–well stolen is the wrong word, but you get the picture.
Soon Jane finds out that there’s more to this sudden change than meets the eye. Allison has done something terrible and stupid–she’s just sold her soul to the devil.
The story is, well, excellent. It’s strong, flows well, and sticks right to the point without running off in directions that are unnecessary. Jane is an awesome character. She’s full of life, spunk, and awesomeness–yes, I used that word to describe her. I found her to be a fantastic character.
There were only a couple times I got annoyed during the novel and this had nothing to do whatseover with the story itself. I think the publisher perhaps misprinted some sentences in the novel so that they are in some ways using the right words, but are grammatically incorrect. I doubt this has anything to do with the author though.
All in all the novel is damn good. It moves fast, has its fair share of twists and turns, and proves to me that I can’t judge a book by its cover all the time. Doing so means I will miss out on gems like this. Check this novel it. I think you’ll really enjoy it!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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