“Repossessed” by AM Jenkins

26 Jun


Cute cover alert! "Repossessed" features an adorable, grinning devil wearing a white t-shirt and jeans. How can you not love that? Better yet, while the cover is intriguing, this novel also has a semi-official stamp of quality; it was a runner-up for the American Library Association's 2008 Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

"Repossessed" is narrated by Kiriel, a demon from Hell (or, as he prefers to think of it, a "fallen angel"). Kiriel takes an unauthorized vacation from the eons he's spent mirroring the sorrows and guilt of Hell's tormented souls, because he just needs a break, you know? On a whim, Kiriel inhabits the body of a mostly good-hearted teen slacker named Shaun mere seconds before Shaun's death in an accident. Kiriel wants to know what it's like to live, to taste and touch and feel, like an ordinary human being, and he's willing to risk the wrath of the Creator (or, worse, the Boss) to experience all that.

The repossession essentially goes off without a hitch. While Shaun's cat Peanut notices a difference, the other folks in Shaun's world — while occasionally getting an odd vibe from the now polite, tidy, and unexpectedly philosophical teen — don't realize that Shaun is long gone. Besides basking in sensory pleasures like warm baths, fries with ketchup, and soft clothes, Kiriel also decides to leave several small marks upon Shaun's world. He reaches out to Shaun's sullen, isolated younger brother Jason; tries to save a bully from an eternity of suffering; and falls in love (or, possibly just lust) with the nerdy Lane.

I was surprised by how deep and thoughtful this book turned out to be. Yes, Kiriel is a guy, and there are plenty of musings on sex throughout the story. But there's also a pervasive strain of joy (Kiriel exults in the daily experiences and surroundings we take for granted) and muted hope (he realizes that people — even souls — have the astonishing ability to change). Throw in a teen male narrator with an original voice and a wry perspective, and I can understand the Printz Committee's selection of this novel. It's unique and easy to read, and it's the rare book that can be funny, authentic, and almost solemn in parts. I'd definitely recommend this one for older middle school and high school readers, especially boys. Happy reading!

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Posted by on June 26, 2008 in Uncategorized


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