Misfit by Jon Skovron is the story of Jael Thompson, a sixteen year old Catholic school girl and the daughter of an ex-priest. Sounds totally boring, right? Until you find out that Jael Thompson is a half-demon as well. With this realization all sorts of awesome and terrifying possibilities spring up, and that’s exactly what got me reading this novel despite some initial misgivings (the angel/demon thing is starting to become a bit overhyped).
The book starts off slow, but the intrigue keeps the reader’s attention. Misfit has similarities to many other contemporary stories involving demons, but it ends up being fundamentally different in a few ways. First, Skovron hints that even though most demons are evil and hideous, they weren’t always that way. In fact, the beliefs of the world’s human population at the time seem to affect how demons appear (Jael’s mother was one of the Greek goddesses, for example). Second, hell doesn’t exist to torture lost human souls when they die; and third, a demon’s power comes from the elements (fire, air, water, earth, and spirit) instead of the devil or Hell or whatever else.
Jael is the daughter of ex-priest Paul Thompson and a powerful succubus named Astarte. Due to Jael’s loathsome half-demon status, a Grand Duke of Hell – Belial – begins hunting her and her parents from the moment of her birth. When Jael is only two months old, Astarte extracts the demon essence from her daughter and forms it into a necklace in order to make it more difficult for Belial to find Jael. Jael learns early on of her half-demon heritage, but it isn’t until her sixteenth birthday that her father returns the necklace and she begins to find out more about her mother, herself, and the truth about Hell, Heaven, and Earth.
Jael is a decent protagonist, but there’s not much about her that inspires. I have sympathy for her, but her personality is pretty bland. Her skater boy love interest, Rob, is similarly simple. I was able to like both while reading, but neither leaves much of an impression. The strongest and most likeable characters, in my opinion, are Paul and Astarte in the flashbacks, and because this is Jael’s story, there’s not nearly enough of them for my liking. The new religious and mythical realities of Misfit are big fun for a budding theologian like me, but Skovron doesn’t give me enough entertainment in that department. I suspect both the things I loved about this novel will appear in the sequel, but there was so much filler scattered around them that it killed my anticipation.
The biggest disappointment, though, was the ending – after Skovron spends the first two-thirds of the novel preparing Jael for the inevitable battle with Belial, the resolution comes way too quickly and easily. Overall, Misfit is a creative new take on an old subject, but some lulls in the pacing and a disappointing climax suck away a lot of the impact of the book’s powerful New Age view of angels and demons.
Sydnee is a freshman at Wayne State University pursuing a degree in Journalism. She is obsessed with hunky heroes, explosions, melodrama, and magic—all things that make a frequent appearance in her stories. Her blog is http://syd-dreams.blogspot.com. Find her on Figment at http://figment.com/users/62-Sydnee-Thompson.