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Forsaken (The Demon Trappers #1) by Jana Oliver
--- Book Synopsis ---
Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself--and that's exactly what the demons are counting on...
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta's local Trappers' Guild needs all the help they can get--even from a girl. When she's not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley's out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils - Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life's about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.
But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley's routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers' Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart--and her life?
--- Review ---
"The End is Nigh!" the man shouted.
"Is there still time for hot chocolate?" Riley asked.
The-End-is-Nigh guy blinked. "Ah, maybe, I don't know."
- Jana Oliver, Forbidden
If I am honest the book really caught my attention because of the cover, it's just that bit menacing and pretty all at the same time. I know, I know that you shouldn't judge a book by the cover but I so often do or at least it helps to make the book stand out among all the many other YA books competing for my attention.
Forsaken by Jana Oliver is the first book in the Demon Trappers young adult series and for the first 30 or so pages I was a little bored. The book seemed to be going down a tried and tested route and I even did have a moment of 'should I put this aside' for something more interesting. But then something happened and the writing, the pacing and the characters all got much more interesting and Jana Oliver managed to turn Forbidden from something mediocre to a book that I just couldn't put down.
Personally, I usually prefer my fiction to be told in the first person perspective but Jana Oliver managed to convince me that maybe third person perspective is the way forward. I really enjoyed Jana Oliver's writing and the world that she'd managed to create, set in an not too distant future that still resembled ours but was filled with demons, angels and magic.
As a main character I really liked Riley, she's hard working, determined and not so easily walked over. She's the type of female main character that is often missing in YA, she doesn't need any guy to tell her she's awesome she just knows it.
Forsaken (The Demon Trappers #1) by Jana Oliver definitely gets the full five out of five star rating from me and it's one book that I would highly recommend reading. It was a book that took me by surprise and kept me glued to the page, but then I'm quite a fan of a good action packed supernatural tale with a big smack of teenage angst and romance thrown in for good measure. It was quite a refreshing YA read because it delivered far more than I was expecting and Jana Oliver managed to successfully avoid falling a lot of YA clichés.
By no means was Forsaken perfect and there were a few elements that I didn't quite like, I thought some of the lower demons were a little too cutesy - but if you're after something entertaining then you really need look no further - Forsaken comes highly recommended.
Synopsis: From Amazon
Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper like her father, and she's already following in his footsteps as one of the best. But it's tough being the only girl in an all-guy world, especially when three of those guys start making her life more complicated: Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he's God's gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her ass.
One thing's for sure - if she doesn't keep her wits about her there'll be hell to pay . . .
Written in third person narrative with alternating focalization, the narrator is an unobtrusive presence yet I felt that maybe the narrator knew a lot more than they were letting on. The use of the third person narration allowed for multiple plot threads to run simultaneously, weaving together seamlessly and enticing the reader further into the book, completely compelling. Set in the not too distant future, it is disturbing how easy it is to picture the total economic collapse and political corruption portrayed.
All the characters were well rounded, their interactions and characterisations worked beautifully together. Mainly focalized from Riley's perspective - Already dealing with the loss of her mother from Cancer and the crippling medical bills. A Father who battles demons is high on the danger list. When his death occurs early in the book it does not come as a big surprise.
Leaving Riley alone, the only person she can lean on, Beck, who she considers an enemy. I found Riley naive at times, she was her own worst enemy, she doesn't like people thinking she is vulnerable especially because she is a girl working in a predominately male dominated 'career'. Forced into an adult world of bill paying and making money in order to pay said bills; while still having to cope with the usual teen angst and hormones *yuck*. She is learning the hard way how to be independent and one of the hardest part of that is knowing when to ask for help. I had the feeling that there is so much more to learn about Riley, things she doesn't even realise about herself.
Beck, on the other hand, is the epitome of independence, suffering through a neglected childhood and on his way down a slippery slope until he meets Paul Blackthorne, Riley's father,who becomes a father figure to Beck. Showing that it only takes one person to believe in you to give you confidence in yourself and the ability to change your life for the better. I keep picturing Josh Lucas as Beck. Both Riley's and Beck's grief at losing her father was palpable through the pages. I would totally love to have Beck as a big brother.
As the story progresses I began to wonder if the events were a small start to Armageddon? The background detail is dealt with in depth making it very realistic. All the characters are interesting in their own right making up a very volatile society comprising witches, necromancers, demon trappers alongside 'normal' people. Although I took an instant dislike to Harper; I did wonder what had happened to him to make him so bitter and aggressive; along with the reason why he disliked Riley's father so much. I also think he has his own agenda which cannot be a good thing .
While Simon being very religious provided a nice comparison to both Harper and Beck as well as the demon trapping itself. He provides a really sweet romantic interest for Riley. Ori on the other hand is not introduced until the last part of the book and is shrouded in mystery. Although I am intrigued by his character I really don't want another love triangle. I think I am all burnt out on those.
As the story progresses Riley's eyes are opened to the different sides of life, she slowly starts to see that not all things are black and white/right or wrong. I think the pivotal point for Riley was when she went to the market and met the witches, which was so beautifully described I felt as if I was there myself.
I cannot go through this review without mentioning the use of Moby Dick to render a demon unconscious (by reading to it) I laughed so much at the thought.
Deep layered mysteries pepper the plot which I am now desperate to solve *sigh*. This book contains elements from a variety of sources: romance, action, friendship, loyalty, religion all entwined with the mystery and paranormal, altogether compelling. It is very hard to categorize this book: urban fantasy sprinkled with dystopian comes to mind - well whatever it is it is a fantastic debut.
Forsaken is the first book in The Demon Trappers series (set to be a trilogy at the minute) by Jana Oliver. It was published by Macmillan on 7th January and it is 448 pages long. Thanks to MyKindaBook.com for the competition to win this.
Following in her father's footsteps, Riley is training to be a Demon Trapper. Don't get that mistaken with Demon Hunter though, they are two completely different things! Riley is not like her father though, who is one of the best in the business. She's still in training and she is the only girl, which makes life extremely hard on her. People's expectations of her and extremely high and as she struggles to just keep up, things take a turn for the worst.
Riley doesn't need any more complications in her life but then she ends up with three and they are all super hot. Beck is one of her father's best friends who Riley used to have a major crush on. Simon is another trainee Demon Trapper. Ori is...well, Ori is a bit of a mystery and Riley has no idea who he really is. Any normal teenager would love to be surrounded by these guys but not Riley. She also has the entire Demon world after her...and they know her name!
What I thought
Just before I won this book, I already had it in my Amazon basket because I was dying to read it. Once I had picked it up, I couldn't put it down, reading it at every spare minute I got. In the morning before work, on the bus to work and even at work. Forsaken is one of those books that has you from the very first page and doesn't let go until the very end...or in my case, even after putting the book down. I ended up speaking about my love for this book all night on Twitter and was telling anyone who would listen about it!
Riley kicked ass. She has a strong personality, knows what she wants in life and is a demon trapper. She also doesn't let anyone walk all over her and will do whatever she has to in order to get what she wants. She is confident as well as beautiful and has a lot going for her, even if a lot of people don't think she does. It's about time we got more female MCs in YA books because I am bored of whiney and annoying ones. If I was to pick one YA female character that I wanted to be friends with, Riley is it. I'm sure being her friend would be a lot of fun, though dangerous, but I know she would always have my back. Just the kind of girl she is. The poor girl has been through a lot though. Both of her parents are dead and she is pretty much on her own, apart from Beck but I will get to him later. Considering everything that happens, I think she deals with it all pretty well, especially when she tried to look stronger than she actually is.
I instantly fell in love with Denver Beck aka Beck. Even before the other guys appeared, there was no doubt in my mind which team I was on. Even when the others did show up, my view on Beck never changed. It would take a hell of a lot to change my mind on this and unless Jana Oliver has something insane up her sleeve, I don't see that happening throughout the series. You see, the thing about Beck is that he isn't very nice to Riley. Regular readers of my reviews know how much I love the bad boy and the guy who is the hardest to get. This was one of the biggest things that drew me towards Beck. Other things about him: Demon Trapper, blonde, has a Georgia drawl and a series attitude. Sounds yummy right?! Beck also has some major problems. He drinks a lot and doesn't ever seem to let anyone in, apart from Riley's Dad. There was so much about Beck that made me want to give him a hug, even though I know he would be the kind of guy to just shrug it off. Anyway, I think you all get the point that I think he's hot but he is also more than that. When things are going badly for Riley, Beck is there for her, even though he doesn't want to be. Well, he keeps trying to tell himself that anyway! I can't wait for the next book to see what Beck will get up to.
Simon was far too nice for me but I can see why Riley liked him so much. Considering all of the insane things going on in the world and in her life, Riley definitely needed some stability and Simon was it for her. He is a sweet, religious guy who obviously cares a lot for Riley but I didn't sense one little bit of bad boy in him. Definitely not my kind of guy. Even though I didn't totally like him, I did like seeing him with Riley and I thought that he did her a lot of good, knowing that he would always be there if she needed him and now I am curious to know what will happen with their relationship, especially after the way the book ended.
The blurb on the back of the book is a little misleading when it comes to Ori. He is described as 'the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her life' but doesn't really turn up until way over half way through. Because of this, I was waiting and waiting for guy #3 to appear but it took so long that I wasn't really that bothered about him by that point. Even so, he was very mysterious and I didn't get to find out an awful lot about him, which I would say is a big advantage. I want to know more about him and what he is doing always saving Riley. Surely he has some ulterior motives?
Jana Oliver has a fantastic imagination. Not only did she create a whole new world, but a range of insane (and one very cute sounding) demons. Her world is one in which I would probably sit in a corner and cry. You wouldn't see me going to mess with the demons on my own. Maybe if both Riley AND Beck were with me and even then, I'd be hiding in the back. The demons aren't the only scary things though. The world is in a pretty sorry state with the economy not being what it used to and dead people being made into slaves. With all of this going on, Forsaken is an adrenaline rush. It's exciting, fast paced, mysterious and original. It also made me giggle from the very first page. This is a book that has everything I could possibly want and I really didn't want it to end.
In the past, I have had US copies of a book first (without even knowing that's what they were) and have eventually bought the UK copies. With this book, the day after reading it, I bought the US version because I loved it that much. I have never done that after already having to UK copy so that is one way of telling you just how much I loved this book. The US version does have some small differences so it was interesting to see what had been altered.
Forsaken is easily my favourite book of the year so far. A must read!