Title: “Choosing Evil”
Author: Kristina Rienzi
Pages (eBook): 277 pages
Original Publishing Date: 14 August 2018
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“Serafina Murano is no stranger to the paranormal, nor to evil. All her life she’s lived harmoniously alongside demons despite the rage living inside of her. Damon Serpe is a conflicted demon on the ultimate mission: infiltrate Serafina’s world. When they collide into each other’s lives, they’re inexorably drawn to one another. But they’re forbidden to be together.
“Dark, deadly secrets, gut-wrenching betrayal, and elusive questions that have haunted Serafina since childhood resurface in a wicked wrath. Damon holds the key to her understanding it all, as well as to her existence. If she decides to trust him, he will help decipher her recurring nightmares and unravel the lifelong mysteries tormenting her. Only Damon is harboring secrets far darker than Serafina ever imagined.
“Time is running out. Serafina is forced to make an impossible decision. To save humankind, she must sacrifice her soul, choosing to become the very evil she has raged against her entire life. Embracing her truth won’t be easy. It’s a fate that will change her, and perhaps the world, forever.”
(known) Trigger/Content warnings for the novel*:
- terminal illness/cancer
- panic attacks
- anorexia “joke”
(known) Representation in the novel*:
*(Since I DNF’d, I don’t really know all of the possible trigger/content warnings or representation)
DNF @ 68%
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Serafino Murano’s world gets turned upside down after her father dies. However, it’s shook even more when she meets demon Damon Serpe and soon learns that her father isn’t really her father at all. In fact, her biological father was a demon himself, and she must choose whether or not she becomes a demon, too, before time runs out.
Before I begin, I do want to note: this review is NOT spoiler-free. Pretty much the entirety of this review has spoilers. Just so you all know.
Oh boy. This book. So, when I read the synopsis on Goodreads, I was pretty excited. Demons are always pretty cool to read about, even though I already know going in that the protagonist and the love interest were going to delve into insta-love territory. However, was able to ignore that in favor of seeing some cool kick-ass demons.
Well, guess what, I wasted my time.
As you can see above, I DNF’d Choosing Evil at 68% (I can’t get an exact page number because my app doesn’t like using actual page numbers for some reason; I use the app for Windows, if anyone is wondering). I was almost three quarters of the way through the novel, and I could barely stand it. “But Kaitlyn, what didn’t you like about this book?” Thank you for asking, random blip of dialogue. The answer? Pretty much everything.
Let’s start with the characters: they were bland as can be. Serafina had no personality outside of the little bit of grief she showed when her father died or the anger that was apparently “always” within her. So when her friends said she was “too nice and caring” to become a demon, I laughed out loud. I simply couldn’t believe that because the reader was never shown that side of her.
Going on to the non-human characters… I could not stand Alison. The reader understands: all she can think about is killing people and causing mayhem. They aren’t able to forge it when it’s all she thinks about whenever the novel is from her perspective. And this might have changed if I read through the whole book, but I felt liker her perspective wasn’t need in the novel at all? Or, at the very least, it could have been done differently. Having her perspective as she walked through sending the noose to Seraphina took away a lot of the potential mystery and thriller.
And Damon? I thought he was awkward, but not in a good way. He goes back and forth between being Mr. McAngst and the brooding love interest. There seems to be no in-between, really: he’s either “I hate myself, I hate being demon, blah” or “We’re murderous monsters who have no soul. Fear me.” He’s also the source of most (all? maybe) of the info dumps through the use of dialogue. It’s all in one huge paragraph, too. Also, this is just me being super petty, but can we talk about how his name is literally Demon with an “A”? I keep chuckling every time I think of it.
Now, on to the bigger issues I had with Choosing Evil. One: the use of the word “evil” and the descriptions of demons in general. Or, should I say, the overuse. To put it shortly, it was overkill. Damon was always talking about how “evil” all demons are, and how they don’t feel empathy or love or any of the “positive” emotions that humans do because that’s just how “evil” they are. Oh, and remember, all demons are selfish and out to get humans or are otherwise always fighting those urges because “that’s just the way they’re born” Yes, folks, we have biological essentialism to blame for the reason all demons are selfish douchebags. Sorry, I’m just not a fan of the “that’s just the way they are” argument. It really grinds my gears, even if it is about a supernatural creatures.
Another thing I wasn’t a big fan of: the destiny/fate trope being implemented. I’ll admit, this is a personal issue. I don’t like this particular trope most of the time, especially when there seems to be no reason for it. Serafina is told that becoming a demon is her destiny by her mother, Damon, and, eventually, herself. But the reader is never given a reason as to why it’s her destiny. Just for funsies, I suppose? It was another thing that was overdone, too: it was as if it was being repeated every other page at one point. Definitely not my cup of tea.
And probably the biggest thing that…didn’t exactly make me angry or annoyed, exactly, but more exasperated. And that’s the issue with Serafina’s biological father. So, the father who dies early in the novel isn’t Serafina’s biological father. Instead, he was a human, while her biological father was a demon. Which, ya know what, that’s fine. That’s cool, I like that. But, well. Lemme tell you, when I read that not only was her biological father the supreme demon overlord of all demons, but that he was also a ~special, extra strong~ demon, and that Serafina also had the potential to become a ~special, extra strong~ demon? I noped out of that Kindle app so fast. I also laughed because c’mon, why do we always have to have the extremes for everything? Her dad is the demon overlord? Cool, whatever, I can get behind that. He’s also a ~special~ demon that turned into a sort-of terrorist because the mother of his daughter wouldn’t let him see her? Nope, sorry, not for me.
If there was only on or two things from this list, I’d probably be able to finish it. But all of it? On top of the ableism regarding mental health/illness and psychiatrists? And the anorexia “joke”? #SorryNotSorry, but I’m not having it. Maybe it gets better in the 32% to the end, but I don’t want to slug through it all to see. This is a book I’m glad to DNF.