There is so much blood in this series.
Like, SOOOOOO much blood. The Demonata is, without a doubt, the bloodiest series I have ever read (and I like horror novels!).
And yet, I really really enjoyed this series - even though I’m not at all the intended demographic and it definitely wasn’t my first choice of book and I probably won’t read other series by Darren Shan.
You see, I mostly read The Demonata because all my younger siblings went through a Darren Shan phase and I felt like I should keep up with their interests somewhat (though, honestly, reading Darren Shan hasn’t suddenly brought us insanely close or influenced my siblings to read anything I’ve recommended ever). So over the course of a year, I dutifully read the series and, at the end, I was actually kind of happy that I had.
There are a lot of good things about The Demonata:
- STRANGE AND BIZARRE PLOT ELEMENTS GALORE - So Grubbs Grady lives with his uncle and along the way there’s a lot of demons and plenty of magic and some life-or-death chess matches and colorful blobs and werewolves and bullying and famous filmmakers and family drama and motorcycles and medieval times and just a lot of everything. Grubbs spends most of his time hunting/fighting demons and the rest of his time being an average teenage boy, but all the fun fantasy elements and plot twists make the story much more fun.
- GOOD BALANCE OF HUMOR AND HORROR - Overall, I’d classify these books as YA fantastical horror (or maybe YA horrific fantasy?), but it’s not all dark and bleak. Shan does an excellent job of making our characters funny and likeable and able to see the good in their terrible situations. They’re frequently joking around and having fun, in spite of their circumstances and that makes them very fun characters to read.
- UNPREDICTABLE - I’ve read a LOT of YA books and I feel like I have a pretty good idea what’s coming most of the time. But Shan kept me in the dark frequently. He took the story in ways I never imagined, he started telling the story from a different point of view, or gave the reader more background (which completely changed my ideas of what was going to happen). It’s really fun to read books when you legitimately don’t know what will happen.
- UNIQUE CHARACTERS - While a few of the characters in this series fit stereotypes (i.e. Grubbs Grady as the tortured teen hero), most of them are interesting and unique. Having the story told from different viewpoints also helps the reader to appreciate each character, their background, their place in Shan’s world, and their contribution to the story.
And even though I really enjoyed this series, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows (in fact, I don’t think there was any sunshine and there were definitely no rainbows in the entire series). There were some parts that I didn’t appreciate:
- MEH WRITING - I wasn’t expecting too much out of these books, but I was still a bit disappointed. The writing is passable at best and doesn’t really suck the reader in at all. Shan writes best when he’s writing about really bloody and graphic scenes (and there are a lot of those), but being a good writer is being able to write the whole story well, not just the gory parts. Shan’s The Thin Executioner is written much MUCH better (and is somewhat less bloody), so it may be a better place to start.
- UNREALISTIC - I know, I know - it’s partly a fantasy series, but STILL. Sometimes, the plot would go to extremes that were just too much for me to believe. Things would either work out far too well for our heroes or everything would suddenly come up to stop them and it was just too much for the sake of a dramatic ending (since this usually happened at the end of one of the books).
My favorite book in the series is Bec - the fourth book. We've spent most of the series up until now hanging out with Grubbs Grady and hearing his sad tales and seeing things from the point of views of Grubbs and the people he hangs around with. But we begin Bec by being transported into another time and seeing the history of a lot of the problems that Grubbs is facing and that changes everything. Also, Bec is a fantastic female character (in a series with mostly tough men and a few hardcore women) and her influence throughout the rest of the series is huge.
If you don’t like blood and guts, don’t read this series. However, if you can tolerate some of that and some mediocre writing for a fun and absolutely ridiculous story about good vs. evil and teenage angst, then this is a good series for you.