Book Review: The Devil’s Mixtape by Mary Borsellino

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Books & Reading
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This book was my first foray into reading an advanced copy of a work before it has been published. A friend of the author tweeted an opportunity for her followers to read the novel ahead of distribution, in exchange for a review on Amazon and talking about it on a website, blog, etc. Well, I jumped for this one! I’m always up for reviewing works, and I especially enjoy spreading the word about books, films, and art that I enjoy.

This book is about a handful of characters, all connected in one way or another. It focuses on a school shooting, a band, Australian indigenous history, and that oh-so-familiar feeling of being out of step with the rest of the world. It’s part story and part social analysis. The story is dark and twisted, yet you find yourself rooting for those characters you never thought you would: the school shooter, the demon, even Lucifer herself. (Yep – herself.)

To be honest, this book sort of threw me off in the beginning. It begins with one of the many narrators writing letters to her sister from Hell. Yes, you read that right: from Hell. I floundered for a while, trying to grasp what was going on and how all of this was possible. The multiple points of view weave in and out and you begin to wonder why all of these characters are important. Then it hits you – everything is connected. Everything! This is the type of book that I would recommend reading twice – once to familiarize yourself with the story, and twice to actually understand it. (That’s what I’m going to do.) It’s a complicated narrative, but one worth reading.

My favorite part about this novel is the way that the author speaks through the characters. She’s got a lot to say about society, and she comes right out and does just that. One of my favorite lines is right in the beginning, on page ten: “Schools teach kids the greatest love story in all of literature is the one where a 19-year-old guy and his 13-year-old girlfriend rack up a body count and then kill themselves together. Then when kids learn the lesson, everyone blames pop music.” That line is so incredibly profound. And so true.

Another insightful section can be seen on page 105. One of the characters, Ben, rants about how teenage girls encounter the worst kind of bullying, simply for loving something. He says that, “as soon as teenage girls start to profess love for something, everyone else becomes totally dismissive of it.” The first thing I thought of was Twilight. And his next words ring true for this as well: “So if teenage girls have something that they love, isn’t that a good thing?” And he’s right, absolutely right. What is so wrong about loving something so much?

The author’s vision of Hell is unique and fascinating. It’s completely different than what you would expect – not that it still isn’t Hell, because it is. It’s hot and dark and lonely, but it’s also full of people who read and write letters and watch movies. Some can come and go as they please; others stay behind because they must, or because they choose to. Lucifer is a woman who sounds just a little bit scatterbrained, and not all that terrible.

So, would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s hard for me not to recommend a book, even if I don’t particularly like it (which definitely wasn’t the case here), just because I know that books create a far more personal experience than, say, a movie would. Books speak to certain readers, and stay silent for others. It all depends. So, yes, I would recommend this book. If you like the deep and dark world of demons, this has plenty of that. If you like reading books that have an underlying social commentary, this also has plenty of that. If you like complex narrative stories, you might just enjoy this book. Give it a try, because you just never know.

You can find the book on Goodreads here.

You can buy the book on Amazon here.

You can find the author’s website here.


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