2 out of 4 stars
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With Ron and Bing Slaughter’s near expulsion and their somewhat evil teacher who bullies them, they really need to put all their efforts in studying for the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). Otherwise working at McDonald’s, like their parents, for the rest of their lives is extremely plausible. Due to not wanting this career path, the boys and their band mates, Meat and Kaitlyn, make plans to both rehearse and study together the night before the SAT.
However, what starts out as normal band practice and studying takes a quick and evil turn. The teenagers are thrown into a dangerous and life-threatening ride involving supernatural forces they never knew existed. Follow the twins and their friends as they battle evil in the young adult read, Demon Freaks by J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison.
Right from the beginning, the author grabbed my attention. Both Ron and Bing were sweet and funny, and the relationship with their teacher, Mr. Brom, seemed almost comical. Then, the author quickly wove in the supernatural; at this point of the story, there was a strange combination of my heart rate picking up due to potential danger with bursts of giggles with what was being said. Though unfortunately, as the story continued, my excitement did dwindle some.
Written in the third-person omniscient point of view, this novel was more plot driven than character driven. Most characters didn’t have a clear background story, and there were points in the story where full names and/or specific titles of some characters were given toward the end instead of when they were introduced. In fact, a group of women that helped Ron and Bing were named Red, Blue, and Yellow, but nothing else was said about them. They happened to be the only women represented, aside from Kaitlyn, but were barely significant. Due to not knowing the characters very well, it became a challenge to care about their outcomes.
There were also some plot points that I questioned throughout. For one, I found some of the teenagers’ reactions to be unrealistic. If my life was threatened, I would have some fear, but it didn’t feel like they were afraid much, especially toward the end; it was almost as if there was a lack of emotion for many. For another, the main theme of good versus evil was poorly executed. It was explicitly stated, which was unnecessary, and explained in a monologue right before a big action sequence; this took away from the action scene as I was too distracted on how unrealistic it was that the theme was explicitly stated. Finally, the author used golfers as one of the antagonists here, but it wasn’t clear why they were used when their counterpart was the more sinister group, the Servants of Darkness. This also brought to mind the question - why did the golfers want to call upon a dark, evil force?
With the underdevelopment of the characters and the plot holes, I give Demon Freaks a 2 out of 4 stars. I should mention that “Jesus Christ” as an “oh my gosh” phrase is often used, perhaps too often, and a mention of God potentially being a “jerk” might affect the enjoyment of some. For those who are not bothered by this and enjoy more plot-driven, somewhat humorous, with some action of a tale might find this a fun read.
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