Sweet evil

I stumbled over Wendy Higgins’ Sweet evil by accident just a few weeks ago and thought it sounded very interesting. I can’t say I had extremely high hopes, but I did think it would be good. After finishing it three days after I picked it up, I’m not entirely sure what to say.

Sixteen year old Anna is in every sense a good girl. She doesn’t drink or party, she does her homework and never lies, most definitely not to her adopted mother. Her real mother died in childbirth the same night her father was taken to prison, where he remains. Anna’s family consists only of her adopted mother, Patti, and her friend from school, Jay. She is a normal girl, or some would say boring, but she has a secret. Not only is her five senses stronger than that of other humans, she can also sense how people feel just by looking at them. She thought this was just a freaky conscience but after an interaction with bad-boy Kaiden she learns that she’s anything but normal. Anna is, in fact, a Nephilim. Her father is a demon from Hell and her mother an angel from Heaven.

Anna needs to learn about the life of demons and Nephilim, and that fast. Kaiden helps her as best as he can but their relationship is far from simple. Not only is he very good-looking and a guy who most every girl falls for, he is also the son of the Duke of Lust, which means his work consists of sleeping around with as many girls as possible. A relationship between the two is thus impossible, but Anna can’t help but falling in love with him anyway. It’s only at that point when she realizes that the demons, called Dukes, have no problem killing their offspring for the smallest infraction. And any kind of Nephilim relationship would certainly be more than a small infraction.

I’ve actually never read a story about angels and demons before so it was a different ride for me. I didn’t dislike it, but for someone who isn’t religious it wasn’t quite fun reading about a protagonist who is a big believer. Overall the book touched the subject of God more than once, which isn’t really a surprise since demons and angels comes from hell and heaven and a story with that includes God. I don’t really know why it surprised me, but it did. I’ve never read a story that had any religious tendencies, or not that I can remember anyway, so I was a little overwhelmed here. There were moments when I wasn’t very comfortable.

What else put me on the fence for this one? Well, besides the religion, I didn’t like Anna. She’s sixteen, as I mentioned, and Kaiden is seventeen, so they’re young. But Anna in particular acted incredibly naïve at times. Her adopted mother does raise that issue at one point, saying that it’s her fault Anna is as naïve as she is, since Patti has had her sheltered from a lot of things her whole life. This definitely comes back to bite Anna in the ass and there are a lot of moments when I rolled my eyes at things she thought, said or did. She does live up to the goody-good girl she’s said to be and she annoyed me a lot. I tried to like her, but it was hard. She kept making decisions without thinking things through, or listening to what people who knew better said only to do the exact opposite, or just simply believe good in everyone she met, even though she was surrounded by evil. She also had a knack for deciding to not do one thing only to do the exact opposite a page or two later.

What was most annoying, however, was her relationship with Kaiden. At the back of the book I’m told that Anna is a nice and sweet girl who meet a bad boy who “you’re father warned you about. Too bad no one warned Anna.” But that’s not at all true, because her guyfriend, Jay, told her from the beginning to be careful around Kaiden since he had a reputation of being a bad boy and for Anna not to fall into the “good-girl syndrome”, which he explained was when a girl thought she could change a bad guy into being good. Anna is reminded of this throughout the novel and also realizes that she doesn’t want to be like all of Kaiden’s other girls, which she at some point feels bad for since they’re so desperate to see and be around him.

Despite that she falls for him and not only believes that he feels the same but also that she can change him into being a good guy. I wanted to facepalm myself when I hit that point. He repeatedly tells her that he’s no good for her, he neither wants nor can have a relationship and definitely not with her and that she should stay away from him. But she keeps calling and pushing for them to be together. When her friend Jay asks her to come to a party where Kaiden will be she gives a lame excuse only to cave in five minutes later and going anyway, even though she knows they have to stay away from each other. This overshadowed the whole demon-angel thing and became the sole story of the novel. Everything centered around how Anna felt toward Kaiden and what he said and did and how he looked. It was extremely annoying, especially when she acted in exactly the same way she said she wouldn’t. I know, she’s sixteen, she’s young and all that, but at times she seemed much older and the next minute like a child. She was rash, impulsive and naïve, which is not quite what I would expect from a “good girl”.

Since I was a little uncomfortable with the religion and since 95% of the novel was about Anna and Kaiden’s none-existent relationship, there wasn’t much else left to enjoy. The writing was average, a bit hasty at times. They were at one place one second and then the next at another and you had no idea how they got there. Higgins left out both conversations and moments which I would’ve liked to read, to get to know the characters better as well as the story. She probably thought they were unnecessary but I had a feeling throughout the book of always being a step behind, of always missing something. At times I had to go back and reread parts and there were moments when I even asked myself if I had accidently skipped a page or two by mistake, because it felt like I missed something. After a big showdown at the end Higgins decided to not have an important conversation between Anna and her father, nor mention repercussions for said big showdown, in the novel, but rather to focus on Anna’s relationship with Kaiden, yet again.

Many of the characters felt a little bleak and they both said things and talked in a way that I think Higgins expects teenagers to act and for me, it didn’t feel natural. I thought Anna was annoying and I thought Kaiden was, too, but mostly because it was so obvious that he was in love with her even though he tried to act all tough and like he didn’t care, while Anna struggled between believing that and thinking that they might have a chance. Other characters came and went and some bothered me more than others but none really made an impression, except two. Anna’s adoptive mother, Patti, and her father. Patti was extremely annoying (so I can see were Anna gets it from…). She was overly protective one moment and then unbelievingly trusting in the next. She was almost as naïve as Anna only to go full-on bear mama the next. I did not like her character at all, she was exhausting. Anna’s father, however, might be the only one I liked. I do think he could’ve been more worked through and I feel like a couple of more scenes with him would only have made the story better. He only appeared a few times and it wasn’t quite enough to see his and Anna’s relationship to its full extent.

The novel also had something of a love triangle and was filled with teenage drama. There were an episode of a character drugging Anna and trying to take advantage of her, which I didn’t think was handled entirely correctly by the author. It was overall an average book, not that good but also not a disaster. There’s a few sequels and I might check them out if my curiosity gets the better of me, but I know I will prioritize other novels before those. I think that if you’re younger, and if you enjoy things that gives you a certain Twilight aftertaste, then this might very well be for you. It just wasn’t for me.

the exact opposite