The Devil’s Only Friend, by Dan Wells

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

Teen sociopath and demon-killer John Wayne Cleaver is back. Now–more sociopathic and more demon-killing! Um.

In the first trilogy, John was firmly embedded in his loving family. Wells seemed to wibble considerably about whether John was actually a sociopath or just an Isolated Boy Who Needs Wuv. This latest entry in the series leaves both of those grounding elements behind and instead gives us an FBI-sponsored team of (of course) misfits hunting demons and the inner thoughts John is stifling about hurting dogs and starting fires. His “rules” are only mostly in place, but this seems to be a source of angst rather than genuine concern.

The FBI-sponsored team is a combination of terminally bland and thoroughly unlikeable–and getting them through John’s first-person viewpoint does not help. The only person John likes at all for most of this book is someone who was damaged to the point of non-functionality in the previous series, so most of his interactions with people are in the charming land where sociopathy and teen disaffection meet.

The demons–the Gifted, the Cursed, the Withered, whatever–proliferate in this book, and while Wells makes some effort to differentiate them personally, this is only mildly successful. The initial trilogy had its problems, but it felt reasonably complete. Trying to go on with John Wayne Cleaver past that arc is really not working for me.

This is where boilerplate gets awkward, but hey: if you’re still thinking of buying this book….

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