Review: Devil's Advocate (The X-Files: Origins, #2) by Jonathan Maberry

10:00 AM

Devil's Advocate (The X-Files: Origins, #2) by Jonathan Maberry | Rating: ★★★★★

"You came in here to learn, and this is a lesson. Never apologize for what you don't know. There is no shame in that. Shame comes when you refuse to know or pretend not to know. That is deliberate ignorance, and it is loathsome."

If you're new to my blog or reviews, you should know one thing: I am a MASSIVE fan of The X-Files. And it was only natural that I flocked to this little YA duo of tales chronicling the origins of television's most magnetic pair--Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. I loved the first of the two, Agent of Chaos and was so very eager to pick up on Devil's Advocate. A young Dana Scully takes center stage in this installment and I couldn't be more happy with the way that Maberry portrayed such an iconic character.

Were there things I would have changed? Maybe--but the thing is, nobody could have written such a captivating story like Maberry did. I'm forever grateful to see that two of my most beloved characters were in such capable hands. Because, like with Mulder's origins in Agent of Chaos, Jonathan Maberry understood deeply what Scully represents and managed to develop her in a way that felt organic and on point with who we know she will become. Kami Garcia's writing became Mulder--Jonathan Maberry's writing became Scully. End sentence.

I wasn't sure that I would be as impressed with Devil's Advocate as I was because at the start, I took on the role of skeptic. The truth is, the central mystery is just as delectably dark and compelling as the standard stories The X-Files is known for. Maberry captures the tone of the series spectacularly and in his colourful writing, manages to blend it into a bigger picture. Dana Scully is still a child in this book but she's still Dana Scully--it's part coming of age, part paving the way for her future career, part thriller.

It's everything that the character--and the verse--deserved. And then some.

Entirely due to the prose of Maberry.

I'm not going to lie to you guys--I had a feeling of where the story was going to go and who not to, you know, trust. (#TRUSTNOONE) Reading between the lines, you get a pretty good idea that things aren't as they seem. Veteran fans of the original series will know this and be quick to solving the case as to who is killing the kids at Dana's school--and what it means for her. I liked seeing this side to Scully; the parts of her that are still undoubtedly naive in nature and quite a bit trusting of the people in her life. She's still got that hefty dose of skepticism that we know her for but we see, more than ever, why she wants to believe.

To be honest, in a lot of ways... I loved how Devil's Advocate unfolded more than Agent of Chaos. As far as pacing and development went, I feel like we got a lot more in Devil's Advocate and that was a lot of fun. This, in part, has to do with the sense of intimacy of how close Dana is to the central plots. She is literally the center of it the moment she begins having those dreams/visions and heading to Beyond Beyond.

Further, we get to see a more fleshed out view of the big-bad in Devil's Advocate, whereas Mulder's story was primarily about him solving a mystery without the attachment of the villain. This isn't me saying that Garcia didn't do a good job developing--she did; the book itself is one of my favourites of the year--it just felt like in Devil's Advocate we were more in on the action because we got to see a bit more than just problem solving.

Other things to note:
  • The flow of the story was coherent and very fast. You get really sucked in, really quickly. I am not exaggerating when I say I couldn't put the book down and devoured it so fast that my head was spinning. Maberry doesn't slack on anything. No one could have written this better than he did. 
  • DANA SCULLY IS THE CUTEST. I mean, I think we already know this. But, I mean, HELLO? Teenage Scully? Little smol Scully having weird visions, living in a new city, trying to solve a mystery of WHO IS KILLING HER CLASSMATES? I love it. That's my girl. That's my girl believing in science but still approaching things with a skeptical amount of faith. 
  • Hippies. Hippies. More hippies. I love the setting of Beyond Beyond. It set up a really good platform for Scully to grow as well as to showcase the healthy differences between herself and her older sister, Melissa.
  • MELISSA SCULLY. I'm still very bitter that Melissa is killed in the earlier seasons of The X-Files. But, we get a good amount of her in this one and I was LIVING. 
  • The villain! I saw it coming--when the flunked drug test came out, especially. I won't spoil that in case my readers haven't, you know, read it yet. I adored the reveal though because the contrast between what we knew and what we thought we knew and what was really happening was really fun. 
  • Ethan was pretty useless and a little more than sexist at times. However, as far as a love interest for a young girl he was pretty ordinary and didn't have only negatives. The problem is I remember next to nothing about him--either that or I just don't care. It could go either way.  
  • I also felt very bored by a lot of the minor characters that weren't (1) The dead kids. (2) Angelo. (3.) Melissa Scully and the rest of the Scully family. (4) The characters from Beyond Beyond.
  • I WAS VERY CONFUSED ABOUT SCULLY'S DAD. Like, very. What was he up to? Also very sweet to see the name Starbuck thrown around between the two because I always think of his nickname for her. 
  • Gran was absolutely a blast. Like, a creepy blast but a blast nonetheless. 
  • The story itself was spooky, i.e: perfect for this time of the year and also it really does wonders at keeping you on the edge of your seat in anticipation. 
So... to sum up my review: I adored Devil's Advocate. I stand by my statement that no one could have written a better origin story for Dana Scully than Jonathan Maberry. Devil's Advocate had everything I wanted and needed in YA thrillers and proves how utterly fantastic Maberry's writing is.  Nothing portrayed in the novel feels out of place with the show and its films; instead, it provides a wonderful glimpse into the teenage years of Dana Scully.

The X-Files is in good hands.

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