Devil's Advocate: The X-Files Origins, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
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TV series fans will enjoy teen Scully-centered mystery.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set in 1979, Devil's Advocate presents a fairly realistic picture of forensic science and police procedure at that time.

Positive Messages

It's OK to be interested in both science and the supernatural. Perseverance and resourcefulness are valuable traits to encourage.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fifteen-year-old Dana Scully is self-conscious about being the new "weirdo" in town, but she's brave, persistent, resourceful. She stands up for herself and other young women, and she thinks she might pursue a career in science.


Devil's Advocate involves a serial killer of teenagers and contains some violent scenes involving gruesome deaths. Most of the details, however, are reported secondhand or happen in dreams or visions. Scully breaks an opponent's nose in a martial arts match, but she uses those skills to better effect later.


Dana and Ethan seem to have a romantic interest in each other, but it does not proceed much further than a quick kiss.


One or two instances of "hell" and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the villains is identified by his smoking habit.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Devil's Advocate: The X-Files Origins, Book 2 is a spin-off from the popular TV series. The first book in this series, set in 1979, focused on a teen Fox Mulder. This one features a 15-year-old Dana Scully as she investigates the mysterious deaths of local teens. Some of the forensic details -- decapitation, crucifixion -- are gruesome, but most are described secondhand. Swearing is limited to one or two uses of "hell" and "damn." Sexual content is limited to a mutual crush and a quick kiss.

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What's the story?

As DEVIL'S ADVOCATE begins, 15-year-old Dana Scully is adjusting to life in a new town, feeling like a "weirdo" because she's interested in science. After she experiences in gym class a vision of a murder victim bearing stigmata, she alienates many of her classmates. She and a new friend, Ethan, begin an investigation that leads to clues both scientific and seemingly supernatural. To stop the killings and save herself, Dana must use all her deductive powers.

Is it any good?

Chronicling the youthful adventures of beloved TV characters can be a lot of fun, and this retro spin-off makes the most of its premise. In Devil's Advocate, author Jonathan Maberry captures the essence of Dana Scully and adds some new characters for her to react against. The solution to the book's central mystery may seem too easy for some readers, but there are enough successful plot twists to satisfy the most demanding mystery buffs. There are also some dangling plot threads, just as there were on the TV show and in the movies.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Devil's Advocate explores the philosophies of believers and skeptics. Is the truth out there?

  • What are good strategies for engaging girls and young women in the sciences?

  • How is violence used in Devil's Advocate? When might it be justified?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and science

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