When I read the publisher’s brief intro to Jon Skovron’s YA fantasy novel, Misfit, I thought some of it sounded like things I had head a military brat I knew talk about. Okay, so he didn’t have exactly the same stuff going on as the characters in this book but it was similar enough to make me want to read Misfit.
Fifteen year old Jael (pronounced ya-el, emphasis on 2nd syllable) Thompson has never felt like she fit in. Of course it doesn’t help that her bitter ex-priest father has moved them around so much. It sometimes feels like she’s attended every school in the world. She’d give anything to stay at a school long enough to make lasting friendships and she really envies all the normal students who have a place to call home. Right now she’s attending yet another Catholic school, this time in Seattle. Her best friend, Brittany, is very insecure, with a troubled past, and that unfortunately translates into her being an easy and willing sexual target for some of the boys in school.
Jael has known since she was eight years old that she’s half demon but she never knew her demon mom, Astarte, or anything about her mom and dad’s relationship. And she’s convinced her dad has no idea how to be a dad. All she knows is what he’s told her, that she has to keep her mixed heritage a secret and that neither humans nor demons will accept her if they know she’s a mixed breed.
“’Jael,’ [Brittany] she says, in a pretty good imitation of Jael’s father’s flat, gruff voice. ‘Jael, money is tight. Do you really need these things [conditioner]?’ ‘No, you’re right Dad,’ says Jael in a chipper, squeaky voice. ‘It’s actually really convenient that I can store all of my pens and pencils in my hair.’”
Jael would do almost anything to not have to move again. Of all the places they’ve lived, she really likes Seattle and her new friends there; however, she can sense her dad is pulling away and that can only mean he’s preparing for them to jump ship once again. She’s feeling very mutinous as her 16th birthday approaches, especially since a really nice guy, Rob, has finally expressed interest in her or at least in the her that he thinks he knows.
When Jael finally turns sixteen, her demon half and its accompanying powers begin to mature. She learns she’s been blocked from accessing those powers so Baliel, one of Hell’s Dukes can’t find her as easily. Enter Uncle Dagon, her mom’s brother, who’s there to help her tap her powers. Now whereas Jael just has unruly hair, Dagon actually looks like a demon, sort of. He’s got a bubbly, kind personality most of the time but he’s humongous and embarrassing, with a shark’s mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and lots of weird fish-like scales – not to mention a ripe odor, and a bad habit of climbing up out of cereal bowls and coffee cups, to Jael’s dismay. Dagon is Hell’s baker, which makes you wonder what they’re baking down there.
“’I’m not what, Father Paul?’ Dagon asks. He places a massive clawed hand on the table and leans across to stick his fanged muzzle right up close to her father. ‘I’m not allowed? Entitled? Wanted? I’m her uncle and your time being the one and only voice in her life is over. That was the agreement. That was the promise we made to Astarte.’”
Misfit is not your typical YA fantasy, coming of age or romantic novel. I like that Jon Skovron has brought a really unique blend together in a very believable way. I think this will appeal to adults as well as teenagers (recommended for ages 14 and up), although it may not appeal to devout Catholics very much since some aspects of the Catholic Church don’t come off in a very good light. I love that Jael’s father’s and mother’s history is presented in a way that sheds light on why her father behaves the way he does. I also like that Hell is presented in a way that is very non-religious (pro or con).
I found Misfit to be a very interesting read, with lots of mythological undercurrents as well as humor and suspense. It will definitely pluck at your heartstrings. Several other reviewers have speculated whether this might be the first book in a series. It isn’t to my knowledge; however, I can see how it could become a series very easily. I’d be happy to read more of Jael’s adventures!
Although Misfit was scheduled to be released on August 1, 2011, it may be available now. If not, it’s definitely available for pre-order. If you want to buy it, just click on the link in the upper right column for your preferred online bookseller.
If you’ve read Misfit, or anything else by Jon Skovron, we’d love to get your comments. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
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