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Pretty Evil, by Lexi Davis
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 10/3/2007
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Pretty Evil, by Lexi Davis

Book Review by C. Dennis Moore

Have you read this book?

Remember that scene in Seinfeld when Jerry's talking to the priest about how he thinks his dentist converted to Judaism simply for the jokes and the priest asks, "And this offends you as a Jewish person?" Jerry replies, "No, it offends me as a comedian." That's how I feel about Lexi Davis's debut novel, Pretty Evil. It offends me as a writer.

I'm used to reviewing crappy books, but for the most part the REALLY bad ones are either small press publications or, as is most often the case, self-published. But Pretty Evil is a Simon and Schuster book, a mass market paperback available any- and everywhere. I mean, good God, people, your children could be reading this.

Alisun "Sunnie" Clark is a successful LA real estate agent with three best friends, Rice (a mystery novelist), Coach (a sidelined football star trying to work his way off the injured list), and Geffen (a business man). The four grew up together in Compton and have worked their way into high-paying jobs in Beverly Hills. Sunnie's a good Christian girl who won't sleep with her boyfriend until they're married, while the men are all playas (that's Davis's spelling, not mine) who love nothing more than bedding whoever they can, wherever they can, and they always make sure they're gone before emotions come into play. So it's easy to see why Sunnie hangs out with these three . . . that was sarcasm.

The boys are looking for a house in the Hills and Sunnie makes them a deal. If they come to church with her--just once--she'll find them the perfect house. The men come, but Sunnie lied; she doesn't really have a place in mind. There is one place she found by accident, though, and in order to keep from having to tell the guys she lied, she takes them to it, even though the abandoned mansion makes her spook-o-meter (again, Davis's word, not mine) go crazy.

It's a fixer-upper, but the men fall in love with it and decide it'll suit their purpose just fine, which is to create an upscale hideaway for the rich and famous, a place to have their parties and spend their weekends without the paparazzi following their every move.

Problem is, the house is already occupied by Vixx, a hundred-year-old demonness. Vixx and her lackey Crep have been exiled to this place for 99 and a half years as punishment for Vixx falling in love. Apparently that's not allowed for supernatural beings. But if they can make it through the next 6 months without someone else taking over their house, they can have it back and return it to its former glory as the best little whorehouse in Beverly Hills. But Rice, Geffen, and Coach's plans for the house jeopardize Vixx's reward. So she has to get rid of them. The men are under a protective shield because Sunnie prays for them, so Vixx isn't able to simply kill them. Instead, she decides to use her next best weapon: sex. Vixx becomes each man's dream woman and proceeds to ruin their lives, hoping to drive each one to suicide.

The plot to this novel is so uninspired and ridiculous, it's hard to even explain what it's about without rolling my eyes and sighing. But the plot isn't the worst part, because sometimes you can cover up a silly plot with great writing. Unfortunately, Pretty Evil doesn't contain any of that. And this is the part that offends me as a writer. This book is riddled with typos, horribly-written paragraphs, ridiculous scenarios, and parts that just made me say ??? How does a paragraph like the following escape the red editor's pencil?

Geffen drove to his uncle's house and waited for his uncle's nurse to leave for the evening. Geffen watched as the male nurse turned off the lights, locked the front door, and got into his car. Geffen waited until the man drove away, then pulled his Hummer up to the front of his father's house and got out. Geffen picked the lock on the front door and went inside.

In case you missed it, Geffen was the focus of that paragraph. That's Geffen. Not Rice or Coach, but Geffen. Or there's this:

There were other people in the elevator, but Coach and Evie didn't care. They started kissing and groping and sucking all over each other. Evie was attacking Coach's body like he was the last rib at a BBQ.

When the elevator doors opened, they nearly fell out. Coach ran his hand up Evie's dress, grabbed and squeezed her butt like it was Charmin.

Seriously? Mass market?

And the typos! On page 254, Davis spells it "Cristal". On page 258, she spells it "Kristal". Which is it? On page 24 a driver slams on their "breaks". On page 25, there's reference to the WWF. It's been WWE since long before this book was published. I don't even watch wrestling and I know that. You have to check your references, people. And my favorite, on page 56 when Sunnie--the good Christian girl--starts to pray with "Our Father, Who are in Heaven" WHO ART! Crack a Bible, dammit!

Then there's the characters. I think Davis has successfully integrated every single gender and racial stereotype she could into this novel. Not only are the men all skirt-chasing dogs, but they're African-American skirt-chasing dogs, which means they're required by law to utter the following phrases:

"Bro-Fuscious" (page 30) "After you, Big Zulu." (page 32) "Nairobi chiefs, listen up" (page 66) "Now, Ashanti descendents, let's get down to business." (page 68) "Hey, tribal warriors, we've encountered a slight glitch." (page 90)

Actually, I kind of like that, I think I might start using it when I talk to my friends. "Hey there, ancestor of Franklin," or "What's going on, my Anglo-Brethren?"

Lexi Davis's website claims she has an English degree from UCLA. So how is it possible this book can suck SO bad? I mean, this isn't just your normal everyday midlist crappy mass market, this is some seriously bad, almost to the point I have to assume it's on purpose because Davis hates her readers so much she wants them to suffer kind of bad.

I almost never give up on a book, but I was tempted so many times with this one. It was only the notes I was making in the margins and my dedication to warning the public about crap like this that drove me on to the end. It's certainly not the worst book I've ever read, but it's definitely the worst of the mass market. The fact that crap like this makes it to the bookshelves, and yet I can give you half a dozen genuinely great writers who deserve the big-money deals yet can't seem to get a foot in the door, well it just makes me sad is all. It makes me fret over the future of the publishing business if this is the type of stuff publishers are looking for. This isn't the work of someone who takes their craft seriously. But as long as publishers and readers are buying it, why would any author bother to try to do better if they don't have to? And it's that kind of complacency, from publishers, writers, and readers, that makes it possible for those few open slots on the publishing calendars to be filled with tripe like this.

Don't read this book, please. Because as long as this is the kind of crap we're supporting, it's the kind of crap that's going to keep getting published. And that's not gonna be good for anyone.
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Comments on Pretty Evil, by Lexi Davis
Posted by K. Jeffries on 10/10/2007
Your article was brutal but hilarious and I agreed with your complaints about the industry. It makes me wonder if I should ask you to review my book. I want that kind of honesty...I'll simply pray it doesn't suck for you as much as this book did. But that was a great article--a great commentary on what our society values, sadly.
Posted by Jeff Edwards on 10/4/2007
Thanks for taking one for the team by reviewing this book. I was going to request this from Pete a few months ago, just to see how bad it was. I'm so glad you beat me to it!