Published by Swoon Reads on July 17, 2018
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Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.
High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.
When Life Gives You Demons is another fun romantic comedy from Swoon Reads. With a unique premise, a wonderfully snarky main character, and a pretty adorable romantic interest, When Life Gives You Demons has a little something for everyone.
The premise of When Life Gives You Demons is what really hooked me. A YA novel about an exorcist-in-training? It was definitely a unique idea for a story. While the story had a ton of potential, it fell a little flat in the execution. From Shelby’s inner ramblings, it’s clear that she’s been training and learning all she can about demons and exorcisms for quite some time now. However, none of that information is shared in the story. There was almost no backstory or buildup to Shelby’s fledgling career as a teen exorcist. It also sometimes felt like the whole exorcism thing was just a side story to Shelby’s love life. With a title like When Life Gives You Demons, I expected a lot more demons than were featured in this story.
Obviously, with it being a Swoon Reads title, you can expect some romance. I genuinely enjoyed Shelby’s romantic escapades. Things never quite worked out the way she wanted them to when it came to her time with Spencer. Whether it be exorcism training or a rogue demon, things always got in the way of their time together. As for Spencer, he took most of it remarkably well. He was a little nerdy (the best kind of guy, in my opinion) and clearly very interested in Shelby. He was willing to put up with a lot in order to get to know her better. There were times when he seemed a little too perfect but I was willing to look past that.
As for Shelby, she was definitely one of the redeeming factors of When Life Gives You Demons. Her snarky personality came across the page remarkably well and I found myself laughing at quite a few of her antics. She didn’t always think things through, but it made for a much more entertaining story. In her case, when life gives you demons, try your best to exorcise them but if that doesn’t work, just call your uncle. He’ll fix it. Her attempts at single handedly exorcising demons were nothing if not humorous.
Overall, When Life Gives You Demons may not be the most well thought out book but it’s full of laughs and some super cute moments. Jennifer Honeybourn has some serious potential and I look forward to checking out more books from her.
What others are saying about When Life Gives You Demons:
Flavia the Bibliophile’s review: “The writing is very easy to follow (and has improved since Honeybourn wrote her first book), and the author wrote a very convincing narrative for the protagonist, Shelby Black (meaning that Shelby’s motivations, way of thinking, decision-making, etc. were very fitting for a teenager).”
Novel Novice’s review: “This book is funny, sassy, snarky, and sweet — and while it’s a standalone, I could easily see this being serialized or at the very least given a sequel.”