Saturday, June 30, 2012

Devine Intervention: Thou Shalt Not Wear Spandex in Front of Hundreds of People...unless you happen to be performing at the US Olympic Gymnastic Trials.

Devine Intervention
By Martha Brockenbrough
Hardcover, 304 pages
Arthur A. Levine Books, June 2012

There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled across time and space for the human girl he loved, slaying those who would threaten her with a gleaming sword made of heavenly light.

This is not that story.

Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine's guardian angel. Sort of. He's more of an angel trainee, in heaven's soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens. And he's just about to get kicked out for having too many absences and for violating too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead.

Heidi, meanwhile, is a high school junior who dreams of being an artist, but has been drafted onto her basketball team because she's taller than many a grown man. For as long as she can remember, she's heard a voice in her head - one that sings Lynyrd Skynyrd, offers up bad advice, and yet is company during those hours she feels most alone.

When the unthinkable happens, these two lost souls must figure out where they went wrong and whether they can make things right before Heidi's time is up and her soul is lost forever.

Martha Brockenbrough's debut novel is hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful, with a sense of humor that's wicked as hell, and writing that's just heavenly.

Devine Intervention makes No. 9 in the 2012 Debut Author Challengehosted by the Story Siren.

Pricky's Review: Some Spoilers Included.
Rated 2.5 Stars on Goodreads.

Jerome is your typical teenage boy "misfit" that finds himself on the rehabilitation side of Heaven. And by typical, I really mean, stereotypical: lives on the wrong side of the tracks with his drunk dad, has no future, can't stop thinking about "milk cartons" or short skirts, and acts without consequences--like letting his cousin shoot an apple off his head. Which is how he found himself in Heaven's rehabilitation program in the first place. His last saving grace is to be Heidi's guardian angel. So since her birth, he's pretty much made her believe she hears voices in her head, singing FreeBird.

When Jerome finds himself in the Rehabilitation Program, he learns about the "Guardian Angel's Handbook: Soul Rehab Edition" (which he promptly loses), the 9 levels of Hell (Level I: Everlasting Standardized Testing, Level II: Ballroom Dancing with the Elderly, etc...), Morning Therapy Group Sessions, and of course, swearing sensors. 

While I admire the creative parody behind the story, I found it tiring after awhile. And even with the "swearing sensors" in place, Jerome has a pretty active mouth. The barrage of slang (chevy, motherflasker, apple hole, get the point) was distracting and overwhelming...after reading it for the HUNDREDTH TIME.

The plot was also a bit unbelievable: Heidi wears a black-and-white spandex outfit and dances with her best friend, Megan, in front of the entire school in the Talentpalooza. According to BFF Megan, "We have to do this, Heidi, if only to take high school back from the people who rule it....We must defeat them." Now either I'm missing something or Megan's lost a few screws because when was dancing with another girl in front of the entire school EVER going to be a winner? I just can't believe that a teenager would ever think so. So of course, Heidi's upset and ends up taking a walk near a frozen pond.

You can imagine what happens. She falls through the ice, and Jerome inadvertently saves detaching her soul from her body, and they now have 48 hours to make things right. I have to say, this is where the story went south for me. With so much emphasis on the comedic aspect of heaven, it became too much.

I was surprised by Heidi's lack of despair or panic when she finds herself "dead." I also thought the entire side plot for saving her dog Jiminy was a bit ridiculous. She pretty much occupied his body in order to save it while Jiminy's spirit went off to chase squirrels. But then again, I've never had a dog...

A Pricky Post.
In the end, I did like how Jerome changed and became more confident and responsible. The story is a bit predictable and somewhat confusing towards the end (what was the celestial squirrel nut for?) and I thought the reincarnation was a bit out of left field. And being a romantic, I don't always like stories where the spoiler (boy and girl don't end up together). I admire the creativity behind DI but after that, it didn't really do much for me.

So should you read it? Maybe...if you've got a lazy afternoon with nothing to do.


Robot said...

Wow the books sounds interesting. Up until you gave it 2.5 stars. And yeah fake swearing is really not that fun to read ALL. THE. TIME.

Perla said...

I was so excited to read this book. In my mind it thought it would be in the same vein as The Gate by John Connolly, but it just wasn't all that funny. Which makes me feel terrible because the author sent me a copy after I had asked her a couple questions on goodreads. I don' thave the heart to actually review it or express how I little I liked it. This is the only time I'll say so.

Anonymous said...

Perla...I know! the humor just ended up too "slap-sticky"?

Anonymous said...

Robot, I don't think you will like this one at. all.