If I were to sum this young adult novel up in one word, it would be implausible. Right from the start, the main character is willing to risk everything to save her female friend from hell (and she is definitely not a lesbian.) That is the high concept, and would be interesting enough to stand on its own, except the author has to ruin it by exaggerating.
She is first person in the history of heaven to *ever* take notice of the city in hell where suicidal people go, and we know this because the other characters are amazed she would do it, and repeatedly express their amazement. ( She walks from heaven past the suicide gates to try and find her friend who had killed herself. (And later her boyfriend becomes the only person in history to interrupt a Judge’s hearing twice.)
Her description of landing in heaven is kind of funny. It’s called the countryside, and is just a bunch of nature, while the city is a ghetto covered in darkness; and is a kind of purgatory. What makes it funny is you have all these happy people in heaven walking around like they’re high on drugs of contentedness, and all of them are unconcerned about the city – in fact they seem unable to notice it. That doesn’t speak highly of Theists.
The kicker is the protagonist isn’t even a Christian, but since she got raped and had was a loner in High School, I guess she earned a pity ticket to heaven. Meanwhile the Jew who killed himself in the Holocaust ‘deserved’ to be in the city for decades. And her other friend can’t leave the city, because she doesn’t “want” to leave the city, which makes no sense to me. Hell always is indefensible when its deconstructed.
And why do these authors love making guys that are a hundred years old? Was that an editorial suggestion?! Instead of a Vampire, we have a Holocaust victim in the body of a teenager, who talks funny and doesn’t even know what cellphones and computers are. The Holocaust is so trite now – why couldn’t it be a Uganda Genocide victim, or some other atrocity. I mean, I know teenagers probably only know about the Holocaust, but it’s still really overdone
Anyway, the author of young adult books always sound sex starved. Every significant male character in the city can’t keep their hands off of her- the demons all want to rip her pants because “You’re mine,” and the good guys hug her and talk about how hot and beautiful she is. Meanwhile the main character vacillates from anger about being “checked out,” to trying to seduce, and then wanting to be raped by the hot male lead. The author also treats remembering being raped like it’s the worst possible thing that could happen to a woman, which is pretty unimaginative considering the book is set in hell. You’d think torture would be the worst possible thing, for either sex, rather than having someone rub their hands over your erroneous zones.
Every time she was pinned, and her clothes were ripped off, I wondered about the purpose. I’d like to give the author the benefit of the doubt and think she was writing to the audience, but I’m sure she’s brainwashed into thinking rape is the worst possible torture like most women.
Oh yeah, and I hated how the female characters were cartoonishly touchy-feely in this book. They’d say words like “Baby” or “girl talk.” Unlike in real life, there were no gender neutral characters. The guys all wanted to get in her pants, and the women were all like your friendly aunt. It just made me think the author was sexist.
And the setup for a sequel in the ending came out of nowhere. I think I’ll skip the sequel, which might as well be titled “Sanctum Meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It just felt like prolonging the story past its natural ending.
To be fair I skipped the first chapter and a half too. I can’t stand school scenarios, and I wanted to get to what I considered the hook – the author’s vision of hell. I wish there was more talk about that grimy ghetto city, and less of the hamfisted corny romance. Also the fight scenes could be pretty silly, because a girl with no experience would kick ass one time, and then be praised endlessly for it in the rest of the book. The funny part is the author thinks men are so sexist, they can’t of understand how a woman could possibly injure a man (even though she has a fucking sharp knife in her hand!) The Jew also literally questioned if she’d been trained by special forces. But no, she was just special – Rhode Island’s foster homes had made her seasoned at the age of 16!
I’d like to note that in her hell, people eat putrid rotting food without thinking about it. It makes me wonder if the author is familiar read about the Zoroastrian purgatory.
What’s lame is how the Jewish character is so old he doesn’t know about new technology. Surely some new guard would have told him about them about computers and modern history in the past 20 years?
Well, it was entertaining for me to poke holes in, but I’ll have forgotten about it in a month. It’s certainly not must-read literature for anyone existing outside of High School.