Thursday, August 2, 2012
Book Review: Supernatural: Rite of Passage by John Passarella
Supernatural: Rite of Passage
by John Passarella
Releasing August 14, 2012
Laurel Hill, New Jersey, is beginning to look like one of the unluckiest places on Earth when an escalating series of accidents and outbreaks hit the town. But Sam and Dean suspect it's more than just bad luck. Along with Bobby Singer, the brothers soon realize that a mysterious figure is at the center of the chaos. When they uncover a connection between the stranger and three teenage boys at the local high school who are experiencing some unusual growing pains, they know they will need far more than good luck to prevent an all-out disaster. Set during season 7 in between the episodes "Season 7, Time for a Wedding!" and "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters."
Overall, this novel was a fast read that became more engrossing as it went on. Stakes ratcheted, descriptions were strong, and there was no lack of violence for those who love that, though the ending seemed to all happen a little bit too quickly for me. I was actually pretty impressed with the writing, as my expectations weren't exactly super high. Let's be honest, we're not expecting Pulitzer Prize-winning prose in these sorts of novels. That being said, the writing is much better than some other "regular" books I've read recently. I was surprised how much I wanted to keep reading once I got into it. That did take a little while, though, probably about 100 pages or so before I was truly into it. Much of the beginning is focused on the monster and his wrecking havoc, which could get a little bit long-winded.
Here's the interesting thing, though: story-wise, Sam and Dean really aren't the main characters of this book. I would wager they are actually in probably 60% of the book on the whole, though obviously I can't be precisely accurate about that without nitpicking, but you get the idea. Instead, much of the story is focused on the point of view of the villain and the high school kids that become a part of the whole thing. While that may be a giant red flag for many who love Supernatural because of Sam and Dean, I have to say that much of the story of the high schoolers was pretty absorbing. Indeed, while there are stakes and danger for these kids, Sam and Dean are kind of relegated to side players.
And that's often the rub with these tie-in books, I imagine, since the authors are forced to get Sam and Dean back to their status quo by the end of the story. Because of that, there isn't a whole lot of character development for the brothers, it's mostly just them and Bobby going through the motions of trying to figure out what the monster is and how to kill it. There are some brief mentions of Sam dealing with the Lucifer hallucinations, and a tiny bit of Sam asking Dean how he's dealing with the hunter life at the end of the book, much like the patented roadside chats in the TV series, but it felt a little bit forced, a little bit like what would've been more interesting was to focus back on the survivors in the town rather than our erstwhile Winchesters. I almost feel like a better idea for tie-in novels would be to go into some past stuff before the show started, to allow the writers more wiggle room and a chance to make Sam and Dean the real stars of the show, but hey, I don't make these decisions!
If you enjoy reading tie-in novels aligning with the current series, I would say give this one a shot, particularly if you're a fan of the monster-of-the-week story format.