Demon Copperhead reviews

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Demon Copperhead: A Pulitzer Prize Winner book by Barbara Kingsolver (Author)

Deamon Copperhead review by bt_wannabe
Just Amanda 📚🏳️‍🌈
Can anyone relate? I’ve never felt so attached to a character🥹🐍#booktok #demoncopperhead #barbarakingsolver #mustread

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Definitely not 100% sold on this one #demoncopperhead #bookreview #booktok #fyp #opioidcrisis #novel #melbourne #bookrecommendations

Deamon Copperhead review by prettygoodbooks
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Our review of Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s a pretty good book! #books #booktok #appalachia #demoncopperhead #davidcopperfield

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Demon Copperhead. Holy moley, what a book. It’s one of those books I made myself put down just because I didn’t want to finish it too soon. At the same time, it’s one I probably wouldn’t have read at all, except that a friend recommended it, based on the fact that one of my own writing projects is dealing with some of the same themes. That, plus its connection to David Copperfield and the almost lyrical prose of the free sample chapters, convinced me to pay the exorbitant-for-Kindle price of the whole book.

Well, I’m glad I did. Demon Copperhead is one of those books that gets in your head and stays stuck there until you finish and even afterward. Your pages turn a mile a minute because not only do you want the characters to be okay, you want to know what happens. You want to see Demon and his compatriots either triumph over their hardships or, if they choose a path that won’t end there, at least get to an ending that makes sense and leaves a logical and lasting impression. Which in both cases, oh boy, do they. These characters don’t just feel like real people, they are real. I know I say that a lot, but man! I was not one of them; I was your classic straight-A, straight edge student who went home to stable parents every night. But I knew these kids existed. I lived (still live) in a town with problems and stories similar to Lee County’s. I didn’t have the same problems or story as Demon, but straight A’s and straight edge or not, I had my own reasons for being, let’s say, in the “orphan class” of my circle. Like Demon, I spent a lot of years feeling like I had a lot of shine, but if it came off, people would see coal underneath and be repulsed.

Beyond that, Barbara Kingsolver just plain nailed these characters, these settings, this life story of her modern, Appalachian David Copperfield. I not only felt for, but felt with and not only traveled with, but traveled inside, Demon all the way from his home next door to the Peggott’s, to Creaky’s farm, to the McCobb’s, to Coach Winfield’s and everywhere in between. I can’t say every place and character was one I grew to love. I mean, come on, some of these people are downright cruel or downright creeps. But, they were three-dimensional and I could at least understand them. And even the situations and scenes at which I cringed, left an impression on me. Special mention goes to:

-The Squadron at Creaky Farm. Every kid needs a friend like Tommy, I don’t care who or how old you are. And as dysfunctional as the Squadron was, I got behind the brotherhood. I’ve written situations and characters like that, not as well as Barbara has, I’ll grant you. The commitment to survival, the heart, the unbroken spirits, will do something to you.
-Demon’s developing drawing talent and cartoons. I loved seeing those, from his first superhero drawings all the way up to the Red Neck comic strip. I kept thinking, how would he draw me? And I loved how Barbara gave this resilient, rough-edged character an artistic, soft side without making him a stereotypical beta male or heaven forbid, what folks in Appalachia might think of as a sissy.
-Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Annie, of course. Not just because they’re “good teachers trying to save the poor foster kid,” either, which I’ve seen done and done poorly. No, you get the sense they’re learning and growing right alongside Demon, making their own mistakes and learning how to save up and give away their own juice. Plus, I absolutely loved Mr. Armstrong’s way of showing his students their history and how it has contributed to their current poverty, educational lack, drug-related temptations, “and etc.”
-Angus Winfield, oh my gosh, I just love her to bits. She is the coolest and least stereotypical high school student you’d ever want to meet. If we were in high school together, we might’ve blown each other off, but I’d like to think we could’ve been friends. Maybe we would’ve reluctantly partnered for one of those stupid Antarctica projects and laughed over the fact that Bettina Cook thought penguins lived with Santa at the North Pole.

Aside from settings and characters, Barbara also nailed her themes. As mentioned, the one that sticks with me the most is the history, present situation, and future outlook for the kids of Appalachia, especially considering the current prescription drug situation. Now again, I was not one of those kids and am not one of those adults. But, having lived with cerebral palsy from birth, having gotten nothing but the runaround and the “we give up, you’re too ‘high-functioning'” from those who should’ve fallen all over themselves to help–yeah, I got Demon’s frustrations, from a different place. It’s no picnic when over 90% of your income comes from a government check–and that’s *with* four-year college, Aunt June. So yeah, I was with Mr. Armstrong, and Ms. Annie, and Angus. Wake up, stupid school board, napping principal, whoever. Get off your butt and give these kids a future, even if it has to start with one little academic team. Wake up, medical system, one kid’s overdosed mom oughta be enough to make you think, what’s going on with these prescription drugs? Wake up, social services, what part of filthy farmhouse, slave labor, and flat broke family with four kids under seven don’t you *get?*

The other themes, especially resilience, jump off the page, too. I rooted for Demon the whole time because, as Mr. Armstrong says, he is the driver. He walked out of the major car wreck, not once, but many times. Sometimes I cringed at his naivete, as with the original David Copperfield, especially when it came to Emmy and particularly Dori (who I felt sorry for, but my Lord)! But pair that resilience with the darker side of the human condition, such as which lives get celebrated and which lives just get the casket lid closed on them, and it shines all the brighter.

Several scenes “popped” all over the book, so many it would take too much time to enumerate them all. And some I can’t tell you about without spoiling the ending, although the ending is that little bit of hope and happiness I hung on for. And you *do* have to hang on, through a lot. One reason I took a star is sheer length. This thing is a doorstop. Now, that’s not a problem on its own. Barbara Kingsolver is kinda known for doorstops. But it doesn’t work as well here as I’ve seen her work with it, because what you have with this book is Demon’s entire, literal life story. For me personally, there were a few times where I asked myself, “Do I really need all this?” And there were times where Demon seemed to relive versions of the same kind of experience. I felt like, “Okay, I’ve seen this once and it was powerful enough that I think we can move on.”

I also took a star because, as much as I loved all these characters, sometimes they crowded the stage. Sometimes there’d be characters in a scene or an arc who I didn’t think needed to be there. I completely understood Barbara’s desire to make Lee County one of those places where you keep coming back and you keep running into people you knew and they in turn touch your life again. It happens, I should know. But truth is stranger than fiction, and in fiction, all these people popping in and out just cramps the book’s style. Some characters, like Tommy and Fast Forward, it works for. Others it’s like, “Okay, move along.”

Perhaps this is why I thought a few threads weren’t developed at the pace they should’ve been. For instance, Fast Forward is a monster and I’m totally behind that. And you do see hints of his true character throughout the novel, like at Creaky Farm. But he’s in and out of the story so much that the actual revelation of how deep Fast Forward’s problems go–well, it works, but it also feels a bit out of left field. The same is true for Betsy’s thread, in that yeah, I buy Demon having a grandma he doesn’t meet until he’s twelve, and I buy her not wanting to be in his life. But then, as Angus says, her desire to basically take over makes no sense.

Finally, yes. I did take off points for language. That’s not because I can’t “handle” it. I’m an adult, for goodness’ sakes. But the near-constant F-bombs just got on my nerves after a while because, just, really? And as you might know, the misuse of Jesus’ name is a very personal pet peeve. Now, I’m sure Jesus Himself had to tell His disciples to clean up their language now and again, especially Peter. And it’s my personal theory that our beloved St. Paul had a potty mouth, at least to a point. But it does wear on you. So, not a major issue for adult readers, but if it’s not your thing, caveat emptor. And yeah, I’d say don’t give this one to your teen, it’s got some pretty heavy depictions of addiction in it, as well as a couple of sex scenes I freely admit I skimmed.

All that aside though, I don’t regret spending a minute with Demon Copperhead. He is a perfect modern David Copperfield, he got me thinking, and in a weird way, yeah, the book blessed me. It inspired me to keep writing. And I’m willing to bet it will stir something new and unique inside you, too. Mature readers, grab a copy and savor. There’s redemption to be had if you’re looking.

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