Evil? by Timothy Carter

Stuart and his family have moved to a small town after the shooting death of his father.  His mother thinks that she will be able to keep her family safe from violence in the sheltered, religious town.  The family settle into their new routine and life, which heavily includes participation in church. There, Stuart has come out to the congregation as gay with a minimum of fuss.  Though Stuart is not religious, he follows most of what is required of him and takes the tolerant homophobia of the town in stride.  The trouble starts when younger brother catches him in the act of the Sin of  Onan, and swiftly the whole town turns against him, including his mother.  But something seems different about the town’s irrational anger, and as more and more people fall victim to its wrath, Stuart has to get to the bottom of it, with a little help from some friends.

I read this book without knowing a thing about it in preparation for my pre – Nerds Heart YA interview with author Timothy Carter.  I am not usually a fan of books that purposefully employ humor (they tend to fall flat for me), so this it’s a good thing I didn’t know that about Evil? when I picked it up and started reading it.  Carter starts his book by delving right into the action as Stuart’s little brother catches him engaging in “sinful” acts while showering one morning before church, and the action and the surprises never stop from there.  I was pleased to see that Stuart’s sexuality and his relationships with members of the community were explored, but that as narrow-minded as some of the townspeople are they have bigger fish to fry with Stuart than the fact that he is gay.

Stuart’s own conflicted feeling about Christianity and the true meaning of religious teachings and God’s word are ironically explored with the comically honest demon, Fon Pyre, but just when the novel appears to be rather one sided in its religious views, alternate perspectives and interpretation are explored.  The humor leaned a little too much to the campy side for my tastes at quite a few points, but other than that I was thoroughly entertained by Stuart and his fallen angel fighting cohorts- and more contemplative about the meshing of homosexuality, small towns and religion than I imagined I would be after taking in this charming young adult novel.

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