The cover of this book led me to expect a kind-of fun, light adventure, but it really isn't. Kiriel the demon longs for time away from Hell and takes over the human body of a slacker-boy named Shaun. Potentially a comic set up. But Kiriel brings with him thousands of years of living in Hell reflecting sorrow and grief back at the damned souls; he feels joy at first encountering the wonders of the world while fearing his bosses from Hell will track him down and make him go back. Not really comic at all. Kiriel/Shaun is a very sympathetic hero who is in a rather desperate situation which, by the end, becomes heartwrenching. Yes, there are lots of funny parts, but as Shaun's love interest, Lane, notes, there's a well of sadness behind Kiriel's eyes.
The author did a couple of things extremely well. The book is a first-person narration, and Kiriel's voice is terrific. This reader really felt his wonder at things like eating Froot Loops for the first time, or experiencing his first kiss. The relationships, particularly the one between Shaun/Kiriel and Shaun's younger brother, are so well done. The author also did a great job maintining suspense--Kiriel never gets to quite settle into his role because things keep knocking him out of it. Despite the pace, however, Kiriel has time to reflect on what is happening to him.
I found the ending perplexing. This reader was really torn by it. On the one hand, we want Kiriel to be able to stay on earth and not return to Hell. Yet we don't want him to go to heaven, which is boring. Yet we're never quite allowed to forget that a human boy, Shaun, inhabited the body before. I think the ending the author chose was the right one, yet somehow I wanted more for Kiriel.
Highly recommended, and more thought-provoking than you might expect from the cover.