Johnson's (13 Little Blue Envelopes) offbeat book mixes humor and drama, with uneven results. When her best friend, Allison, trades her soul for beauty and confidence, brilliant, feisty Jane must confront the demon to get it back. Jane even puts her own soul on the line by making a bet. At first Jane, who narrates, thinks new transfer student Lanalee is just toying with her misfit friend, but after Jane makes her own contract with the teen demon (she has to get her ex-boyfriend to kiss her before midnight on Halloween) the heroine discovers what a real risk she's taken. She must call upon her friends, as well as the "demon hunter," Brother Frank, from her school's faculty and her own strength to beat Lanalee and save her soul. There are memorable moments throughout the book, such as Jane's "official contract with a representative of the Satanic High Command" appearing written in flames in her textbook, and Brother Frank telling her, "Many large corporations are actually modeled on hell... The policies and organization are almost identical." A strange cast of characters including the sugar-obsessed Lanalee and an earnest 14-year-old boy who died over 100 years ago will keep readers putting the pieces together until the Halloween night showdown. Unfortunately, this final conflict feels anti-climatic, failing to utilize Jane's cunning. The ending zaps much of the energy from an otherwise creative, engaging book. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 8-11-Tiny senior-class genius/spitfire Jane Jarvis is seriously out of place in St. Teresa's Preparatory School for Girls in Providence, RI. Although she considers herself to be above the school's traditions, she wants to help her clueless best friend, Ally, obtain a good freshman sister at the annual Big-Little ceremony. Alas, when Ally forcefully vomits in front of the entire student body, she needs more than Jane's help. After a brief period of avoiding her schoolmates, all of a sudden she's cool, gorgeously attired, confident, and sophisticated. Well, everyone knows that high school is hell, so it makes semi-sense that demons abound, and Ally has sold her soul to one. Jane is determined to save her. Odd things start happening, from giant hailstorms to self-igniting textbooks, and Jane sadly bids farewell to her family and throws herself into mortal-and immortal-danger. Just when all seems lost, a believable plot twist ties the ends together. Well-developed characters are Johnson's forte, and readers will delight in meeting the heroine's friends and, especially, her family. The scenes in the Catholic high school are hilarious without making a mockery of religion (for example, Sister Rose Marie gives Jane a demerit for "lack of caution in adverse conditions" for rushing through the lobby when the power goes out). Buy multiple copies for your Johnson fans or you'll end up with a long reserve list.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.