Jenkins, A.M. (2007). Repossessed. New York: Harper Teen.
In a wickedly fun bit of perspective taking, Repossessed shares the story of Kiriel, one of the worker demons in Hell who decides to take a vacation from work and spend time in the body of a teenage boy named Shaun. While trying to remain undetected, Kiriel is out to have some fun and take in as much of the human experience as possible.
Think Meet Joe Black, but with a demon.
Kiriel had watched Shaun and the people he interacted with extensively before taking the teen's body right before Shaun would have accidentally stepped out in front of an oncoming cement mixer. Nonetheless, as Kiriel adjusts to being in Shaun's body, many of the people in Shaun's life can't help but notice small changes in Shaun, and not necessarily for the worse. As Kiriel enjoys his vacation he can't help but fear and hope for his Creator attention for having broken the rules.
This book is in part about appreciating the small things. Kiriel spends a lot of time tasting foods, touching objects, learning to walk, appreciating air and water etc. all those things most people take for granted on a daily basis. Other themes include looking beyond appearances, rejection, acceptance, love and causing change.
I have to say, I didn't really like the way this book ended. I won't say more, since I would prefer to avoid spoilers, but if anyone has read this book and would like to discuss the ending (or other aspects!) make a comment or email me with your thoughts. I hearts discussion.
In similar fashion to the movie Dogma, Repossessed has the potential to offend, but at the same time, it manages to humorously touch on some important religious as well as universal concerns and would be an excellent discussion starter. Central questions include whether Kiriel is a redeemable character, issues of free will and determinism, issues of connecting to others and having your voice heard.
Quotes of Note:
"First thing I did was, I stole a body. I could have made my own, but I wasn't in an artistic frame of mind.
I was just fed up, you know; fed up with being a cog in a vast machine, with doing my pointless, demeaning job. It's not like I was the only one who could do it--anybody could do it. Tormenting the damned---it practically does itself, no lie. And it's depressing; I can't tell you how depressing it is" (p. 1).
"I wanted to keep it simple, start small. Slip into a life that was already taking place. Something with all the synapses in working condition. A body that was carefree, insulated from earthly considerations like hunger; a protected place to try out physical existence. A body without responsibilities--no job or family to care for; someone who had time to experience the things I wanted to experience. But not too protected. Someone who wasn't watched every second. Someone who had a little time on his hands, but also a safe place to go to every night.
I knew I wanted all this, so I decided to take a middle-class suburban American teenager" (p. 2).
"I don't like the term "demon." It carries quite a bit of negativity with it. It implies a pointy tail and cloven hooves. I prefer the term "fallen angel." That is, indeed, what we are. The difference between us and the angels who didn't fall from grace is that the Unfallen were, are, and always will be faithful, stalwart, and obedient. That is their nature, just as it is their nature to rejoice in worship and contemplation of the vastness of the Creator's perfection. We, the Fallen, wondered, questioned, confronted, eventually demanded, and in general pushed the edges of the envelope till the envelope burst" (p. 9).
"And I thought it would be fun to read questions and let the answers form themselves into actual words inside Shaun's head. And to write, on a piece of paper, with a pencil--to experience for myself the delicacy of finger movements required to make marks that communicated one's thoughts to anyone who saw them. Sounded like fun to me!" (p. 31).