Sixteen year-old Sara, an introverted Jewish Goth with a history of cutting herself, moves to a small town in Utah where she meets Jared, a shy Mormon gamer with a pornography addiction. The two fall for each other, hard, but what they don’t know is that they are but chess pieces in a larger game played out between the nephilim (fallen angels) and the archangels who oppose them. Together they are destined to bring forth a special child, a little boy prophesied to be the Blessed One, the Ender of Days, the Saviour of Man.
Jeb Kinnison’s NEPHILIM is mostly concerned with religion, specifically the history and beliefs of the Latter Day Saints movement and Mormonism. As such, a large part of the novel takes place during AP History classes and seminary courses in which students ask questions about religious subjects and teachers provide answers. This might be fascinating to someone who already has an interest in the subject, but others will quickly find it boring and pedantic. The author clearly tries to push a certain philosophy upon his readers, such as his attitude towards pornography and masturbation, teenage sex, and the traditional gender roles of the society depicted in the novel.
Most disturbingly is the perpetuation of woman as the evil Other, inherently weak-willed, the temptress of man, the damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by a white knight from both herself and her tormentor. Significantly, all of the female characters fail the Bechdel test and while Jared is visited by angels, Sara is the one who comes under a demon’s dominion. In contrast, the male protagonists, although they fall prey to seduction, are both presented as strong enough of character to defeat the woman’s spell, to take action and fight an impossible battle against all odds. They are the heroes, flawed, yet intrinsically superior.
Note that sex is a major plot driver and a few explicit scenes are included in the narrative, although most of the seduction happens off-stage and is merely hinted at. The writing is strong and the concept of demonic possession interesting and well executed, with some hints towards the biblical background piquing interest. The story itself is told from three viewpoints, which is sometimes a little clunky as certain scenes are repeated, but works well in general. The romance between the two main characters happens a little fast and almost feels like insta-love, although Kinnison does very well depicting the drama, self-doubt and angst that comes with being a teenager.
~Suneé Jones for IndieReader