The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry

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The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry

Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A longer and inferior entry to this two-book series, with a look at a darkly dramatic case showing Dana's initial experiences with spooky potential X-Files.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Atom
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780349002989

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Dana Scully can be added to the list of teenaged people upset by their family moving home in those key years. Her naval father being relocated has meant she has been uprooted from a nun's Catholic school to a regular, secular school elsewhere, but echoes of religion are still everywhere – not least a no-longer-used church opposite their new home. But it's inside that the strongest taste of faith is residing – Dana is seeing visions that could be claimed to be precognitive, and dreams possibly peopled by a satanic angel figure. That would all be troubling enough, but school children are dying in allegedly drug-fuelled car wrecks that nobody can really believe in, so straight-edged are the victims – and Dana is having even more troubling experiences as a result. Working out the cause and effect here could fill an X-File, but of course we're in the years long before those exist. Dana might well be on her own in her investigations...

This is the second of a brace of full-length teen novels showing the key X File investigators in their formative teen years. Dana and Mulder have had a heck of a lot of shared experiences, but this pair of books proves they had some loose connections long before they ever thought of joining the FBI. As a result, I'll avoid certain spoilers and explanations for both books but still suggest it might be better to read Mulder's volume first, unless your appreciation is solely on Scully.

And this book does take us very close to Scully – as well as introducing her extended family (I couldn't remember a kid brother or nana for her) and all the other people pertinent to the plot, we get a lot of her in these pages, with both her many conversations about the case and multiple glimpses into the dark interior of her mind. And I use the word dark advisedly – not only does this book go to some severe places as regards the experience and history of Christianity, but it provides for some scenes that really do give you the willies – making this definitely for a teen shelf, and not any younger. It's possibly going to be awkward for some, both as regards credibility, belief and taste, that this is supposed to happen to a fifteen year old girl.

I guess in that comment there is a clue as to why these books are never going to be particularly wondrous – we know Mulder and Scully survive intact, decades later, so the level of credible threat the characters face here can't exactly be that great. But we're looking at these stand-alone adventures as key episodes in the forming of character, and alongside this book being a fair chunk too long, it's not really got that much that would point to Dana becoming a sceptic, until someone who belies my comment about her being on her own kind of forces it down our throat in one of those extended discussions everyone here is forced to have.

Yes, it's quite a woolly book all told – a lot of the time I stuck to reading just the dialogue, as the text offered little extra I couldn't infer. I have to give it plaudits for making the teenaged Dana just as vital and just as well-known to us as the woman we watched for nine years on TV though, and again the book flirts with becoming a rote Nancy Drew with adult themes yet manages to become an echt X Files title in its own right, but I did find this the less successful of these Origins novels. Fans will not be too disappointed, but this isn't a vital episode.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Teen thrillers with a female bent? With The Burning of Juniper Slaide (The Juniper Series) by Johanna Handley the job's a good'un.

Buy The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry at Amazon.com.


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