Book Review: Demon Road – Derek Landy

Words: Amy Harris

Demon road cover

Her parents are going to KILL her.

In her sixteenth year, Amber Lamont discovers she’s a demon, as her previously dormant powers begin to develop. Her parents are thrilled.

Finally they can eat her.

“Her parents were monsters. They had grown horns…. Her parents – and her friends – were going to kill her.”

A wild supernatural road trip across America ensues as Amber flees from her murderous family, with the help of the mysterious Milo as her guide.

Will Demon Road prove to be an awesome new YA series or a demon car crash?

232539213 and a half starsDerek Landy is an author known for his best-selling fantasy-horror-supernatural series for kids and tweens, Skulduggery Pleasant. S.P was my favourite series growing up.

Because of this, all I could think as I was reading Demon Road was, “This isn’t as good as Skulduggery. It’s like Skulduggery. It’s trying to be Skulduggery. But it’s not Skulduggery.”

Both have a similar formula. The main character is a teenage girl. The teenage girl meets a mysterious immortal man. She goes on an adventure with this man, on the way meeting quirky and/or creepy characters. Action. Monsters. Magic.

However….

The characters themselves weren’t nearly as funny as what I was expecting from Derek Landy. I think this was done in part to distinguish Milo and Amber from S.P protagonists, Skulduggery and Valkyrie. Amber was likeable enough. Milo, however, was so stern and boring at first that I couldn’t see Amber and him forming a believable friendship. By the end of the book it does happen, but I would have liked to see it happen quicker considering they spend so much time in each other’s company.

Seemingly to balance for Amber and Milo’s lack of banter is the one comic relief character, whom I didn’t find very funny, and a little obnoxious. The sense of humor he brought to the book just wasn’t profoundly sarcastic or clever like I was expecting. Most of the jokes he offered were from drawn-out ramblings, or us laughing at him for his stupidity. This is my opinion, though. I know lots of people will find him adorable. I would have liked him more if he offered more to the story, but I think Landy could have just thrown him in the second book and Demon Road #1 would have been almost no different.

Despite its faults, Demon Road is a pretty fun ride. Every bad guy the team runs into is memorable, which is where Demon Road surpasses Skulduggery Pleasant. Landy excels at atmosphere, particularly in the horror scenes of the novel. Also, his descriptions of the creatures are wonderful. The character I mentioned above, like with most Derek Landy characters, did grow on me as he became more developed. I am really pleased with where his character went in the book and hopefully is going in the sequels. Furthermore, Landy was smart enough not to throw in some forced romance for the sake of it.

Finally, Amber is not “conventionally attractive”. She is a heavier, non-cookie-cutter heroine, whom if Landy has any sense at all will gain great self confidence in her human skin by the end of the trilogy, without having to lose weight. Go diversity of heroine body types!

For me, Demon Road is very “Adventure YA” in it being a bit over-serious and un-self-aware, which is less than what I was expecting from one of my favourite writers. However, it is very Derek Landy, in that it’s a mash-up of some great genres. Including in this case: action; fantasy; comedy; horror; and road-trip. It’s also fast-paced, emotionally raw, ever so slightly twisted (okay – more than slightly), and very hard to put down. I am excited for the sequel, which I am anticipating to be extremely interesting, given the ending this book.

It’s a recommendation from me. If you’re a fan of S.P, give it a try and decide for yourself. If you’re new to Derek Landy, read S.P, then give Demon Road a try. Or, if you’re not ready for the emotional commitment of nine books, give Demon Road a try, then read S.P.

At first I would have given Demon Road a three out of five stars, but after doing this review and thinking about it some more I have to say three and a half. Who knows, it might go up more the next time I read it.

 

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