Author: Gretchen McNeil
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: August 23rd, 2011
Source: Purchased at a local bookstore
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by Matt Quinn, the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, the voices are demons—and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from. Literally.
Terrified to tell her friends or family about this new power, Bridget confides in San Francisco’s senior exorcist, Monsignor Renault, who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her freakish new role, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. And when one of her oldest friends is killed, Bridget realizes she’s in deeper than she ever thought possible. Now she must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone else close to her winds up dead—or worse, the human vessel for a demon king.
Possess was almost a DNF for me. But I toughed it out in the hope that it would get better, and there’d be an arc of self-improvement, some journey of discovery that would make Bridget Liu less of an annoying bitch. And I don’t use that word lightly. And sure enough, there was. But it started about 60% of the way into the book.
I actually had an entire list of Reasons I Should DNF The Book. By the end of the novel, almost every single one had been addressed or resolved (excepting the fact that Bridget’s ethnicity seemed more like appropriation, as she’s half-Chinese but has freckles, blue eyes, and curly light brown hair and there’s absolutely no influence of Chinese culture on her at all, so….why half-ass the diversity?).
As a character, Bridget starts out downright annoying. She has contempt for everyone and everything, cruelly ignoring the friend who is so obviously in love with him that everyone knows (including Bridget) and he knows that they know. She even insults Matt, the romantic interest whose desire to protect her is annoying to her (I guess because having people care or feel responsible for her unhappiness is a horrible thing), at least until she all-of-a-sudden decides that he’s attractive. And don’t get me started on her back-talking to her mom.
She also barely thinks about her recently-murdered father, which I found unsettlingly self-absorbed. But the biggest problem I had with Bridget is that she calls (or implies in her internal narrative) every single female in the book a slut, to include her rival, the students of another Catholic school, and her mother.
BUT after I toughed it out, things came up and out and there was resolution. She was 80% less annoying by the last chapter as she had been in the first. I still wasn’t feeling the romance, but it turns out I was just not giving McNeil credit for knowing how to grow a character.
The concept of the demonic mythos is kind of cool, and not very Catholic in doctrine (which made it easier to read). I never felt very emotionally invested, but it was clear there were entire backstories behind the plot that we’ll never see but informed the development of the side characters. Like the OSM. And Bridget’s, term, DNA.
In all, I would’ve enjoyed it more if the first half was condensed. I wonder how many readers gave up because there was so much bad before we got to the good. But it was also interesting in concept, and the second half of it read like a movie. Not quite book candy, but if you’re down with the premise, patient with the characters, and want something fast and very YA, this one is OK.