Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved so much about this book. I didn't know what to expect as I hadn't read the author before, but that left only room to be impressed. Set around what those of us in the know can recognise immediately as an X-File (of the paranormal experiment conspiracy type), teenage Dana Scully explores an early interest in the occult and paranormal before this faith is burnt, revealing the inner sceptic we know and love from the series later in her life. The depiction of little Scully is very satisfying - she's the classic good-girl, of course, smart and sensible, but she sticks up for herself and the voice Maberry delivers her in is entirely believable as a young version of the Scully we meet in the pilot. As the story follows a fifteen-year-old Dana, we get an insight into her childhood and family life that before we could only infer, and it too is gratifying, in particular the relationship between Dana and Melissa. Scully's sister is only a relatively small recurring role, for a short time, in the series, but is expanded here to depict a truly loving and close sisterhood between the girls, with Dana as the little sister always looking up to the elder but simultaneously growing into her own person. The dynamic is warm and fun, and I took great pleasure from the many passages of prose where the girls shared a scene. The other highlight for me were the words themselves. I wish I could remember every playful or meaningful line, but there were too many; the characterisation surprisingly consistent for an adult male writing a teen girl (extra kudos) and so there are many great and quotable Scully-esque lines from her inner monologue. There were many places where I stopped to reread a line or paragraph because I love a beautiful arrangement of words, but I suppose nothing compares with little Dana admitting she has visions, or naively uttering the famous lines 'The truth is out there' and 'I want to believe' years before she would ever meet Mulder. Really, really happy with this book, and only wish I'd had the time to read it more solidly, because X-Files is made for bingeing. Recommended for Scully fans.
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