November 7, 2013

REVIEW: The Demon Trapper's Daughter (Demon Trappers #1)

The Demon Trapper's Daughter (Demon Trappers #1), by Jana Oliver
Published February 1, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: paperback, borrowed from the library
Genre:  young adult urban fantasy
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads) It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night. Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell.

I recently helped organize an event for my local library where eight amazingly awesome YA authors participated in book signings and panel discussions. During one particular panel discussion, the authors were talking about their favorite books. Jennifer L. Armentrout mentioned that one of her favorites was The Demon Trapper's Daughter. In her words, "BECK! Ugh, Beck... he is so amazing!" And then she looks at me and says, "You've read it right? You can't call yourself a blogger and not have read this book!"

So, Jennifer - I've made it right. And you're correct. Beck IS amazing.

Riley is a girl trying to make her way in a man's world. She wants to follow in her father's footsteps and trap the demons that now run loose. But, it's not really something that girls do. Only eventually, she needs to step up and do it anyway, learning the ropes from her father's partner Beck. There's something going on, though. The demons know her by name and someone appears to be sabotaging the trappers' efforts. Riley needs to figure out what's happening before she becomes a casualty too.

This is my first exposure to Jana Oliver, and I am absolutely taken with her. Holy world building, Batman. I loved her concept of 2018 demon-ridden Atlanta. It appears that sometime in the next five years, inflation skyrockets, which forces much of the population into poverty. Gas is 10 bucks a gallon, businesses have been shuttered and, oh yeah - demons ranked 1 through 5 (with 1s being relatively harmless and 5s being bringers of brimstone and death) run rampant through the city.

This look into the not too distant future was pretty awesome. I loved how Oliver weaved the picture of down-trodden Atlanta with the supernatural aspect of demons. And, she did it so seamlessly too. Much more seamlessly than most passes at urban fantasy. The different levels of demons were super creative and totally awesome. And the set-up of the trappers and their rivals, the demon hunters - who kill rather than capture their targets, was captivating and riveting.

Riley is a great female character. She's plucky and brave and super smart. I think she's way too hard on Beck. Talk about a woman scorned. Sheesh. She had a crush on him when she was 15 and he turned her away. Ever since then, she treats him like crap with a capital C. She does have her moments of weakness when it comes to him, but they are few and far between.

And, Beck. My boy Beck is a whole lot of awesomesauce wrapped up in utter stubbornness. He's actually a really good match for Riley. He too is brave and wild and a little nuts. He's had a tough life and has learned to push pretty much everyone away. Despite what he displays on the outside, he seems to genuinely care about Riley. However, being the chivalrous guy he is, Beck thinks that keeping Riley at arm's length is what would be best for her, so he consistently pushes her away with abrasiveness and tons of grrr. Riley and Beck are equal parts frustrating. The good kind, of course.

The side characters are pretty cool too. There's Simon, Riley's fellow apprentice trapper who appears to be her boyfriend. Something's off with that dude though. Riley's dad made my heart hurt. He works super hard and is really good at what he does, but he doesn't have any time for Riley, and that sucks for both of them. The only side character I didn't really get was Riley's BFF, Peter. He seems to like her like her, yet he never declares it. His mom never wants him to see her. And truthfully, most of their interactions are via the phone. He was pretty non-essential to the story. I could've done without him.

I'm excited to continue on with the series and find out what's in store next for Riley and Beck. And, I owe Jennifer L. Armentrout a huge thank you for turning me on to this awesome series.


Unknown said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Definitely adding this to my tbr list!

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...

OH jeezuz - how did I not read this!? Ok you've sold me - I'm in!