So I’ve learned that saying I’ll never do something is like signaling to the universe to go “Nyah, nyah! You’re gonna do it a whole lot!” Like how I said I didn’t think I ever wanted to read young adult fiction. High school was hard enough the first time, after all. Why would I want to revisit my teenage angst multiplied by a factor of whatever character torture a talented author has managed to conjure up? So last year when it was RITA judging time, what did I wind up getting? A whole buttload of YA books.
And guess what? I loved them. Of course I did.
Come to find out, when done well, I particularly adore paranormal YA. I mean hey, teenage drama is great and all. Dark moments out the wazoo, some of these books. But when you throw in demons and vampires and whatnot on top of everything else? Now you’re talking complicated.
Sweet Evil is the start of a creatively crafted series by Wendy Higgins about a teenage girl who technically isn’t supposed to exist in the angel/demon hierarchy because she’s a little bit of both. She wants a boy she can’t have (under potential penalty of death), doesn’t want (at least not enough) a boy who’s willing to risk the consequences to be with her, and with her demon father in prison she’s spent most of her life unsure about exactly who and what she is.
The way the story unfolds was so dramatic for me I found it hard to put down, and the pain of Anna falling in love with this boy who kept stringing her along was so heartbreaking and real. That first teenage love is so painful you feel like you’ll never breathe again, and I remembered it so vividly while reading this book.
Anna’s a walking contradiction in that she has an angelic side and tries to be so good and walk the straight and narrow path. When she meets Kaidan and later her father, she has to start being a bad influence on humans to blend in with the others of her kind. Gives a whole new meaning to falling in with a bad crowd. Things get dramatic and dangerous, and we wonder whether Anna’s going to stay true to the good in herself, embrace her dark side, or if there’s an even worse fate coming?
As a writer of fairly dark adult fiction, it amazes me sometimes how dark young adult fiction can get.
I’m glad to say that this book does have a hopeful ending, although true to most YA books not an HEA or even what I’d call an HFN. Anna is on her own at the end of the book, there’s a little something of a love triangle going on in here so the love story is kinda left hanging and I suspect it will be until the series wraps.
I am so looking forward to see how both the love story and the battle between good and evil play out.
About Wendy Higgins: Wendy Higgins is a former High School English teacher living in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children.