Tor, $9.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-2809-0
Original Sin is a genuine sequel to Personal Demons, right down to the continuing story arc, so you should read the two books in the correct order. At the very least, read my review of the last book so that you will have an idea of what has happened in the previous book. By the way, there are some spoilers in this review, which are necessary to explain why this story doesn’t work for me. You know what to do if you want to remain unspoiled.
In this one, the set up remains pretty much the same: Frannie is still hounded by the forces of Hell, Luc is now her steady, and Gabe is teaching her how to use her gift. Things go downhill when Gabe decides that he can’t be close to Frannie anymore because of his feelings for her, and then vanishes for the most part of this story. In his place is Matt, Frannie’s long-dead twin brother who has been appointed her guardian angel. It doesn’t take much for Matt, who is ill-equipped to become a guardian angel in the first place, to actually conspire with the demons to remove Luc from Frannie’s life – for Frannie’s sake, of course. It’s like watching a baby trying to bargain with sharks for a piece of meat, but let’s not tell Matt that. But things really go down the hill and straight into the drain when the forces of Hell… well, let’s just say that the title of this book is very accurate for once and, just like Adam, the boys in the story succumb to the original sin faster than you can say, “Apple fool!” Okay, that’s a really bad punchline, but you get the idea, I’m sure. Poor Frannie. The boys are no match for those milkshakes in the yard.
This book is a complete one-eighty from the previous book. For one, this one is mostly told from the boys’ point of view, compared to the previous book which has a strong point of view from Frannie. This is not a good thing in my opinion, because it reduces Frannie’s previously strong character into a mere damsel in distress who needs to be escorted by strong boys whenever she leaves the house. This is frustrating because Frannie isn’t as weak as this book would suggest – it’s just that in this book, the boys do not let Frannie do anything without barging in and trying to flex their muscles. That won’t be a bad thing if the boys in question aren’t so bloody… well, let’s just say that they are either very blind to the obvious or they are thinking with their little heads, because the villain is very obvious to anyone who knows even a smidgen of the old Genesis account. How odd that, Luc, who is from Hell, is curiously blind to the possibility of this person being a villain. Then again, the boys in this story has a curious tendency to underestimate the opposite sex.
Another difference between the two books is that while the previous one is fast paced, this one is maddeningly slow. The first two third of book is filled with tedious teenage angst. Frannie wants to have sex but Luc, a demon, decides to take a page from Edward Cullen’s handbook of romantic courtship and insists on waiting for the right moment. Yes, a demon wanting to wait. Now, I’ve read everything. Luc moans and groans about feeling inadequate when it comes to protecting Frannie because he is no longer the demon he used to be. Matt moans and groans about Luc corrupting his sister when he’s not mooning over the girl next door. Repeat and rinse until my eyelids begin to feel as if they are made of lead. This is probably another case of that old broad not getting the point of young adult paranormal romances but yes, I find such repetitive teen angst boring to read.
Oh, and do be warned that the title of this book is pretty accurate in the sense that while there are no explicit sex scenes here – the author shuts the bedroom door on them wherever possible – sex and lust is everywhere in this story. We are dealing with villains who specialize in inflaming the hormones, after all, and I have to say that it is so disappointing that a supposedly long-lived pretty high-ranking demon like Luc can be so ignorant of the workings of these villains. Boys. They are so cute but… god, so dumb sometimes.
A lot of what little plot this story has feels very contrived. Gabe’s deliberate absence in this story feels like an excuse to get Matt to run wild and do plenty of dumb things, considering how he has no problems showing up again later on. The absent-minded nature of Frannie’s father is no longer funny when I realize that he could have stepped in and prevented a lot of the mess in this story from happening if he had been paying closer attention to his daughter. I know nine out of ten young adult stories out there will not happen if the parents’ aren’t designed to be absent-minded twits, but considering how her daughter could have been dragged off to hell and the world subsequently overrun by demons, such absent-minded negligence is no longer amusing. The villain can change her shape and form to seduce anyone she desires, but she somehow forgets to shapechange into Luc or Gabe in order to seduce Frannie. And poor Gabe, oh, Gabe – his character is degraded even further in this book. Here, he’s just a plot device to get the plot in motion. That’s just sad because Gabe makes a far more attractive boyfriend material than the whiny Luc could ever dream of being.
Still, as much of a disappointment this story is, Original Sin ends up serving up a pretty intriguing plot development of Matt turning into the nemesis of Luc and Frannie. I can’t say I find this book a good read, but I am still curious enough to want to find out what will happen next in this series.