Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?"
My Review: This book is one roller coaster of Crazy Freaky Thrills. It reads very much like an action movie. The majority of the book takes place in one night---leading into the next morning---and it actually leaps into the action quite quickly, which surprised me.
I will admit: the characters themselves are not that great. They're interesting enough but they're not very well fleshed out. Their back stories are not explained very well (or at all, in some cases). Sofia is kind of an empty main character; you don't really feel much for her, she's that bland. I guess you kind of just have to step into her shoes and imagine yourself in that situation. She's not unique or interesting. She's Everyperson, a fact that annoyed me but perhaps made it easier to step into her shoes. Riley and the girls are way more interesting---especially when things get downright nasty---but again, their motivations and back stories and how they got to this point is never really explained. At the end I realized that this is the first book in a series, but I get the funny feeling that Riley and the girls' motivations won't be explained even in the next book because of...reasons. (Spoiler-y reasons.)
But the flat, two-dimensional characters don't even matter that much because HOLY mother of pearl, the horror and action aspect gets gruesome and intense. There's some really disgusting extreme violence, some very freaky scenes where body parts are cut off (or bitten off), and generally a lot of madness. People trying to perform exorcisms, mental deterioration, physical fights, torture, emotional abuse, self-harm, addiction to drugs... All of these topics are covered and they're covered at breakneck speed which makes the book seem even more frantic and thrilling. The escalation of the violence and madness and the quick deterioration of these girls' mental states makes this book all the more scary because it starts to feel like a never-ending nightmare.
Reading it is like taking an icy plunge because pretty early on in the book you see some extreme violence and then you realize, Dear God, I have like MORE than half the book left to go---how much more violence and torture could there be left?! Lots, my friends. The answer is lots. This book takes the idea of the bitchy teenage mean girl and puts it on steroids. Imagine combining Mean Girls with Heathers with American Psycho and you get this dirty cocktail filled with a lot of blood and a little glitter.
The ending is definitely a plot twist that makes your jaw drop. I admit---I guessed half of the plot-twist ending. But the plot-twist that the book ends on with the last few sentences...that one came completely out of left field and I'm not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it kind of feels forced and random with absolutely no build-up...but on the other hand, it's a concept I've never seen done in YA so far (at least this way) and it makes me excited to read the next book in the series. So all in all, Danielle Vega could have done a better job fleshing her characters out and perhaps building up to the motivations and plot a little more---but I'll forgive her because the book was a short and gruesome ride that definitely kept me frantically flipping the pages.
Cover: GORGEOUS. I love it. It popped out from the shelf right away. To clarify: it is a hardback but there is no slip cover. It's simply a hardback with the title and the symbol and author's name stamped on it in gold. So I found that really cool. (Slip covers can be so annoying to deal with.) And then the shocking hot pink color is really nice. I'm not a huge fan of pink being overused on YA book covers because it can make them seem juvenile but the effect here was cool because the hot pink + the pentagram immediately sent a message: This is a girly book that's going to get seriously dark. Be prepared.
Overall Grade: A-