Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Soul Enchilada

Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill 2009 Harper Collins (Greenwillow Books)

Rating: 4/5

IQ "Speaking a language is nothing like truly understanding it." (Sadly I didn't record what page this quote was on or who said this, I think it's a quote by Pesto)

I love the description of this book so instead of writing my own, I'm sharing it. I love the tagline too "The Devil is in the Details". And I love this cover. In short, I love the overall appearance of the book (although I realize this is more of the publisher's input than the author's)

Girl meets boy at a car wash.
"Dog," she says.
"Dude," he says.
And probably this would have been a sweet teen romance. . . .
If Beals hadn't been sitting next to her in the car.
If Beals hadn't been a supernatural repo man looking to repossess her car.
And to possess her.

David Macinnis Gill delivers the whole enchilada. With a side of soul

The girl would be Eunice "Bug" Smoot, the boy would be Pesto. Bug is an orphan, her mom died in a fire and her father has never been around. Bug was raised by her aunt and her grandfather until her aunt died. Bug's grandfather gives up his soul to the devil for a car, a 1985 Cadillac Biarritz. However, after Bug's grandfather dies he skips out on the repo man. The repo man (Beals who is a demon that works for the devil) then comes for the car and for Bug's soul, since Bug unknowingly signed a contract giving up her own soul if her grandfather did not give up his.

I am beyond amazed that the author has never lived in El Paso, Texas. The way he describes the atmosphere and the culture of El Paso, you would swear he's a native. I felt absolutely immersed in El Paso. We mostly meet the multicultural world of El Paso, Latinos and African Americans. He also has the voice of an Afro-Latina girl down pat. I found her experience as a "coyote" (a term used by the Latina girls in her neighborhood to describe someone who is half-Hispanic) completely genuine and I appreciated her seemingly endless sense of humor. However, like all people, Bug has flaws and her optimism does leave her at times. All the characters are great from Bug, to E. Figg (the lawyer) to Snaggletooth (Bug's arch rival in basketball). Everyone had a story and the author weaves them all together in a way that doesn't feel rushed. The author lets everyone tell their own story in their own way and time.

The world the author creates is fantastic. A world in which there are seemingly hapless demon hunters (NAD, men whose job it is to track down spirits and kick them out if they stay past when the expiration on their visa) who play video games all-day, witches (Pesto's mom), a lawyer who deal with the devil, foul smelling demons and of course the devil. David Macinnis Gill re-invents the image of the devil and demons, demons can be anyone and the devil is a pretty decent guy (he's a jerk but also funny and stylish). I especially liked how the demons started out as seemingly normal people and then they would transform into disgusting creatures complete with maggots and a foul smell, ugh I could practically smell the horrid aroma of rotten eggs and other things!

I did think Pesto and Bug could be sort of annoying, the constant "dude" and "dog" was funny at first but quickly grew old. I also didn't like the development of their relationship, they became friends first, but they became friends really fast, considering how they went to the same school but he was a year older than her (Bug is 18, Pesto had already graduated). My final quibble with the book was how often Bug reiterated that she had to be tough, I think the readers could have picked up on their own that Bug is a tough cookie. It may seem silly but these few things did annoy me significantly, especially the way Bug always said "dog" and Pesto constantly said "dude", I don't many people who constantly use those words when addressing people and I would have liked them use some more creative greetings.

I would highly recommend Soul Enchilada. This book is really creative from the overall appearance of the book (tagline, cover, title), to the descriptions of El Paso in both the location and the descriptions of the people who live there (humans and spirits/demons) with a three dimensional cast of characters. I enjoyed most parts of this book, there were just a few details that added up to a small annoyance. I would highly recommend this book, it's fun and imaginative and it puts a whole new twist on the Faustian bargain. 8th grade and up


  1. This one's been sitting in my stack for a little while - I'm saving it for a time when I need some funny in my life. Glad to hear you (mostly) loved it!

  2. This was a surprisingly fun read. Bug is hilarious.

  3. Why am I not surprised that not only did you already know about this book, you've also already reviewed it? You're so with it, Ari. :D

  4. This one - I want this one. I love your description of the book.

    Re- the dude. I live in California, and I do hear that quite a bit from certain students here. Not all of them. The ones that over-use it tend to sound the same all the time, almost like they can't think of anything else to say. It is kind of sad. and annoying. especially when I find myself saying Dude (I'm a grandma for god's sake!).

    Soul Enchilada - going on my personal wish list. Thanks for the age recommendation also.

  5. I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, but haven't been able to get my hands on it! It sounds fun, and the description reminds me a bit of Reaper, a show I loved.


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