Review by Laura Beutler
Bailey has written us up a policy for spoilers, which you should go read if you haven’t already. Before we go on, though, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that while this review of The Demon’s Surrender is spoiler-free, you shouldn’t read it unless you’ve already read The Demon’s Lexicon and The Demon’s Covenant. The content of those books is fair game.
3:34 p.m. Tuesday. June 14, 2011. Post Office. Somewhere in Indiana.
“I was wondering if you could help me,” I said with as much disarming sweetness as I could muster. “I have a package I’ve tracked with UPS. This morning it said it would be delivered today, but now it says it will be sent out with the mail tomorrow.” I smiled. “I was hoping I could just pick it up from here, since I was in town. Then no one would have to bother delivering it.”
The postal worker stared at me a little. In fact, all four of them did. One of the women smiled back at me, and I took this as a sign of hope, hope that she would go back, pick up the box, and bring it out to me.
If I just could get that package, everything would be okay.
“Here’s the problem,” said a postal worker I was sure had to be the manager. “UPS gives us these packages in pallets. Pallets that are shrink-wrapped. Then, they update their tracking information. But right now, we have no way of knowing your package is even here.”
This was bad news.
“So,” he continued. “We will find out when we next sort the mail.”
I took this to mean he wasn’t going to bother checking. The smiling woman smiled a little wider, as if to say, “We’ve heard this before and are very sorry your hopes have been dashed in this fashion.” The look on the man’s face said, “Your pain means nothing to me, pathetic, obsessive human girl.”
“Laura,” you’re thinking. “What was in this package? Was it the special medication that keeps you from keeling over dead? Was it insulin, or an antidote for some rare toxin you picked up on one of those twenty mile hikes your father forced you to go on back when you were too young to steal the family station wagon and drive as far away as possible, the kind of toxin that takes ten years to kill you?”
Nope. The package was from Barnes and Noble. And inside it was The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan, the final book in her Demon’s Lexicon trilogy. Inside the package was Alan. And Nick, Mae, Jamie, Sin, Gerald, and Merris. (But mostly Alan.)
I lasted about another hour. Then I bought the Kindle edition of The Demon’s Surrender, so I could read it while waiting for the hardcover to come in the mail.
I love The Demon’s Lexicon books so much, I want to write their names in little hearts on all my notebooks. I love it so much, I bought an Alan t-shirt on CafePress, so I could walk around expressing my love for the series, attracting fellow readers for impromptu book discussions. I love The Demon’s Surrender so much, I’m not even mad at Sarah for making me cry on four separate occasions while reading it, even though I was at work in the library at the time, and patrons were giving me funny looks. I’m hugging my copy right now, which is tough while typing.
If you haven’t picked up the books yet, take this as your official command from MHLit. I want you to read this series. I NEED you to read this series. Honestly, it’s a friendship requirement. How could we relate to each other when this vital part of my reading life is a mystery to you? Do yourself a favor and go pick up the first book, The Demon’s Lexicon, and start reading. When you finish, get The Demon’s Covenant. Then come back here, and we can chat.
If you’re reading this, then you’ve read the first two books already, because you would never disregard my instructions about avoiding spoilers by reading Lexicon and Covenant before you read my review. I’m not going to do in-depth character descriptions and analysis, because you’ve read the first two books, so you already know everything I could possibly tell you about them. And I’m not going to give you a plot summary, because you’ve read the books preceding this one, so you know what happened in them, I would hope. What I am going to do, though, is give you my overall impressions of the series so you can understand WHY I love this series so much.
Where were we?
When we left our heroes, they were deep in what Bailey calls a “tortured middle” (I love that term). Brothers Nick and Alan were struggling with the changes in Nick’s life, what with Nick’s unbridled demon powers and his lack of, well…conscience. Mae made out with Alan then Nick, all while giving Nick Human Lessons. Jamie was trying to choose a side, then got more or less abducted by magicians (even though I’m not so sure he didn’t want to go with Gerald all along so he could go learn magic-y things). Oh, and he also made a new friend: Nick. If only Nick could remember that friends don’t menace friends with swords. Seb was a jerk, but I kind of felt sorry for him anyway. Gerald kept himself busy by playing everyone, abducting children, marking Alan, and being straight up evil. Sin trusted no one but Merris, then no one at all. And Merris went and sold Liannan a time share in her body, so now they share. Just when you thought life couldn’t get any harder, Merris drops a bombshell: Sin and Mae have to compete to see who will inherit the Goblin Market.
The Demon’s Covenant leaves you with a thousand different questions, and The Demon’s Surrender is one exhilarating answer to all of them.
Sometimes, when the final book of a series comes out, I don’t even want to read it, for fear that the author will use the last book to rip my heart out of my chest, stomp on it, and then watch with sick pleasure while I curl up into a ball and grieve. *cough*deathlyhallows*cough* I know it must be hard to write a series, since you have to work so hard to stay consistent from book to book. One installment can’t fall flat, characters need to remain true to themselves, even as they grow from book to book. It must take a massive amount of planning, plotting, and living vicariously through your characters. I don’t know how I would handle it. I’d probably snap, start living in a tree, and insist that people call me my protagonist’s first name. If I tried writing three books in the same series with three differing viewpoints--I’d end up writing the last book in a straight jacket with chalk clutched between my toes.
Sarah Rees Brennan makes it all look like a cakewalk. I have a huge respect for her as a writer. I think, had the post office understood my love for her work, they would have opened up those pallets and gotten me my Barnes and Noble box. Don’t you?
I’ve read quite a few different reviews of The Demon’s Surrender in the last week, and many reviewers talk about how the trilogy is all about the bond between brothers Nick and Alan (despite how twisted that relationship seems, once you stop and think about it). I would agree Nick and Alan’s relationship is quite important to the plot. But to say that brotherhood is the most central theme to the trilogy is to overlook Mae and Jamie’s bond, the connection between Nick and his adoptive father, Sin and Merris, and all the other characters we meet. The series is really about family, the family we are born to and the family we build ourselves.
As I was reading, I found myself thinking a lot about the definition of love. Nick doesn’t have emotions as much as he has states of being: calm, and killing people. Mostly, though, the “calm” is only there to prepare for the killing. Nick doesn’t have emotions. He’s a demon; demon’s don’t have human emotions. They don’t even have words. Reading about Nick and Alan, it’s clear that Nick is bound to Alan by something. Whatever one calls that bond, it’s strong enough for both brothers to deny their very natures for the other. My thought, at the end of the book, was that love doesn’t need to be a feeling, it can be a choice, and it’s a choice Alan and yes, Nick, made.
My advice to you is this: Take a day off from your life. Get cookies, milk, tissues, tea, chocolate, and any other munchies you require. Put them in an easy-to-reach location, then start reading. Preferably, keep a cell phone on hand, ready to text a friend that’s already finished the book (I don’t know how I would have made it through the emotional roller-coaster without my friend Kate). Know that when you are required to go somewhere, you will go there while reading. If you need to stop reading, or if someone tries to force you to stop, you will have to menace them with a sword, if you’ve got one, because there is no way you’ll be able to walk off and leave your book behind, especially not in the last 135 pages. Frankly, it’s cruel for them even to ask.
Your Smiles Make Us Smile: A MHLit Giveaway
Now, there is a certain black pearl necklace that is featured heavily in The Demon's Surrender, so we're bringing you a giveaway to win a black pearl necklace of your own! In addition to the fancy necklace, a la Celeste, we're throwing in a copy of the Demon’s Lexicon book of your choice. We don’t do things halfway around here.
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Giveaway ends at midnight, EST, Tuesday, June 28th
Winners will be chosen using Random.org