Full disclosure: Jeanette Rallison is one of my favorite authors. She is also one of my favorite humans. So yes, I was predisposed to like her latest YA novel, The Girl Who Heard Demons. BUT. She had some tough competition for my attention. I homeschool. I obsess over Korean dramas. And I love my sleep. Mmmmm, sleeeeep.
But what was I doing last Sunday night? Watching a Kdrama? Nope. Sleeping? NOPE. I was reading this fantastic book because I couldn't put it down. WHAT ARE THE DEMONS TELLING YOU, ADELLE!? I MUST KNOW!
The premise: Shy Adelle Hansen hears demons but she's determined to make friends at her new high school by keeping her ability secret. When she overhears supernatural voices celebrating the impending death of the school quarterback, Levi Anderson, she knows she has to do something to prevent it. However, the demons aren't the ones plotting; they're just celebrating the chaos, and Adelle must contend with earthly forces as well if she wants to preserve Levi's life.
Handsome, popular Levi doesn't appreciate Adelle's self-appointed role of guardian angel. As Adelle battles to keep him safe, she'll have to protect her heart too. Can she do both?
As pure entertainment, this book gets the work done. The slithering, whispering demons are creepy. The mystery pulled me through. The romance was swoon-worthy. Jeanette builds tension like a pro. If you're looking for pure, fun escapism, The Girl Who Heard Demons will do that for you in spades.
But the reasons I loved this book go deeper than the joy of a good diversion. There's some underlying depth and messaging that I really loved. Some ideas that Jeanette put pictures to in a way that stuck with me.
For example, our heroine, Adelle must go to a high school party despite her clear reluctance to do so. As she's there, she's forced to navigate a room full of invisible demons whispering in the ears of unwary high schoolers. Adelle notes how the more these kids abuse drugs and alcohol, the more power they give the demons. The scene is played out so beautifully, that visually, I could see it all clearly. It took me back to similar situations when I was a teenager -- with similar behaviors and consequences. But at the same time, it never came off as preachy. Adelle wasn't judging her peers so much as wishing she could warn them -- like someone who sees an impending car crash but can do nothing to prevent it.
Jeanette also touches on some universal themes, like the unfairness of life and what, if any, purpose we have for being here, as well as the consequences of free will. I can't go much into those without giving plot points away but suffice it to say, for those who like so
me depth in their afternoon reading, this book will get you thinking. It's one I plan to hand over to my kids when they're a little older in the hopes that it will spark some good discussions.
One aspect of the novel that I really liked is how the demons weren't the *real* villains of the book. They were more like a consequence of bad decisions. You knew who was bad because they were heavy with demons. This explores in a very real way how our choices have consequences and how free will is a wonderful gift but also a great responsibility that shouldn't be treated casually.
Like I said -- this book will get you thinking.