The Devil Particle

Cover of The Devil Particle

The Devil Particle

Book 1 of The Devil Particle Series

An ambitious teenager determined to prove his worth. A world bent on self-destruction. Can he win the Vessel Trials and save humanity?

Seventeen-year-old Paul Salvage is determined to prove himself by competing in the Vessel Trials. If he wins, he’ll become the vessel containing all of humanity’s evil and save the world. But when a city guard murders Paul’s brother, Paul gives up his dream of competing to comfort his grieving father.

Persuaded not to drop out of the Trials by a powerful family friend, Paul competes against his forty-nine other candidates, including his girlfriend and his rival. The teens battle to the top of an abandoned skyscraper filled with mental, physical, and psychological tests and traps. But as he grapples with one horrible choice after another, Paul fears he isn’t noble enough to be the hero who will rescue everyone on Earth.

Can Paul escape the dangers and his doubts to climb to victory?

Reader Reviews


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The Reviews:


Kirkus Recommended Read Review of The Devil Particle

A teen and his friends brave a grueling competition to save humanity in Oakley’s YA SF series opener.

In a war-ravaged, near-future world, scientists have discovered that evil is contained in the human body’s easily extractable “agonistons,” or “devil particles.” Those devil particles have to go somewhere—stashing them in a secure bunker proved disastrous, so the scientists conclude that they must be contained in a human vessel, someone who can control all of the evil inside them. Paul Salvage feels he was born to be the Devil Particle Vessel. The 17-year-old will get his chance if he triumphs at the upcoming Vessel Trials. The government invites a group of youngsters to the Trials, all prospective Vessels possessing a “solid core of goodness,” including Paul and some other people he knows. All they have to do is reach the 52nd floor of a skyscraper—the one with the most points at the end will be selected as the Vessel. But as the competitors don’t know exactly how they’ll score or lose points, the journey upward promises to be an unpredictable and dangerous challenge. As Paul and the others make their way to the top via elevator or rickety ladder, they’re never sure if what they encounter is part of the competition. The author develops characters exceedingly well: The participants aren’t as wholesome as they may appear—some hide selfish and/or vicious tendencies. Paul regularly commits “acts of random kindness,” but is it only to earn a place in the Trials? The first-rate supporting cast includes Paul’s older, warmhearted brother, Asher, and Paul’s girlfriend, Jaelyn, whose deceased scientist parents discovered the devil particles. Oakley couples a brisk narrative pace with concise dialogue and short scenes that keep the characters moving (“I cringe as the mirror splits into three massive pieces. Somehow, they’re still attached to the ceiling. For now”). While the action slows down in the final act, the story ends with a fantastic denouement and a tantalizing sequel tease.

A captivating, thrilling tale with believably flawed characters. – Kirkus Reviews


Readers' Favorite Five Stars Medallion5-Star Readers’ Favorite Review of The Devil Particle

Reviewed by K.C. Finn

The Devil Particle is a work in the thriller, suspense, and dystopia subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and contains some moderate use of adult language and brief references to violence. Penned by Kristin A Oakley, this gripping and enthralling drama takes us to a world where science has discovered that the root of all evil can be extracted from human beings but must be stored in human vessels once it has been acquired. So begin the Vessel Trials, where teenagers compete to become the ones who will save humanity by becoming The Devil Particle Vessel. Paul, grieving and withdrawn, is persuaded into the trials by a close friend, and there, he hopes to prove his worth to the world and himself.

Kristin A Oakley has a fascinating concept for this captivating new YA novel; it draws you in immediately and never lets go throughout the reading experience. I enjoyed the pace and depiction of the many action scenes, which played out with such atmosphere and vivid multi-sensory cues that you begin to feel like you’re in a VR world, running, racing, and fighting alongside Paul and his fellow potential vessels. In addition, the explored interpersonal relationships are realized with unique dialogue personalized to each character. Finally, Paul’s emotional journey is well-paced with close, personal narration that feels realistic and well-crafted. Overall, The Devil Particle is an accomplished dystopian work with plenty of high-stakes action and a fantastic emotional core that readers will find gripping and moving. – K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite


Midwest Book Review of The Devil Particle

Reviewed by – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

The Devil Particle is a young adult dystopian survival story that presents a very different take on a new world order in which evil has not only been banished but identified and contained. In this world, scientists have discovered a way of protecting humanity from imploding under its own violence—but this comes with a big price tag, requiring one individual to ‘contain’ all this violence within themselves.

In this scenario, serving in such a role is not just desirable but applauded. That’s why teen Paul Salvage enters the competition to be The Devil Particle Vessel and why he draws back when violence destroys his own family before he can compete in the Trials to become a world-saving hero.

In a struggle reminiscent of The Hunger Games for its focus on a new world order and a competition that holds underlying forces and realizations a teen must uncover to survive, The Devil Particle performs a neat slight of hand. Paul’s mission and those of teens around him become a journey of new realizations and shocking truths about good, evil, and options in the matter of world salvation.

Kristin A. Oakley embeds her story with the particles of realization and moral and ethical quandary which bring Paul and his peers to life. Oakley is especially adept at portraying life-changing situations that demand extraordinary responses and choices from these young adults:

“I look down at Rune dangling from my hand. Do I let her go? Could I? Would that save Jaelyn, Gaige, and me? I don’t know. But it might buy Jaelyn enough time to reach the twelfth floor. If I hang on to Rune, can we all make it? As if in answer, I hear loud pops as the ladder’s bolts give way. There isn’t much time. I’ve got to save Jaelyn. That’s all that matters. I have to let Rune go.” 

The process of making hard decisions based on impossible circumstances that both test interpersonal connections and redefine good and evil intentions results in a riveting story that is all the more powerfully displayed by its use of the first person to reveal Paul’s thoughts. As Paul finds himself in competition with those he loves, he comes to realize the deeper impact of this effort to contain evil.

As issues of personal and worldwide survival vie with questions of reality and perception, Oakley creates an action-packed story filled with higher-level thinking and messages that will lead young adult audiences to debate and consider their own impacts on life and the world around them.

Libraries and readers interested in spirited, thought-provoking teen dystopian stories that hold the feel of The Hunger Games but notch up the ethical and moral dilemma factor will find The Devil Particle equally (perhaps even more) compelling.


Wisconsin Writers Association Review of The Devil Particle

Reviewed by: Brenda Bonesteel

If you are looking for a fast-paced, engaging, unpredictable, young adult dystopian science fiction novel that will make you think, look no further! The Devil Particle by Kristen A. Oakley will definitely not disappoint! In a not-too-distant future society, the broken and bleak world is riddled with multiple wars and on the brink of complete annihilation. Fortunately, scientists have discovered that evil is actually contained in agonistons or “Devil particles” and better yet they have figured out how to completely extract and collect the evil from every person in society. Now the government is looking for The Vessel: one altruistic, selfless, inherently good person who is impervious to temptation and manipulation, to become the container of all the world’s evil.

Enter Paul James Salvage who has been proving his worthiness by performing a multitude of good deeds on a daily basis and wants nothing more than to become the savior of the world by becoming The Vessel. He must earn this honor by being the winner of the Vessel Trials, an elite competition of government-selected 17-year-old candidates who demonstrate superior emotional, physical, and social goodness. They will be tested in numerous unique ways to prove their strength and abilities. The Trials take place in a dilapidated 52-story skyscraper with new surprises around every corner.

Adventure, heart-pounding suspense, mystery, escape room tension, love, romance, ethics, morals, power, government, religion, corruption, right and wrong are all awaiting you within the pages of this delicious story that will, without a doubt, leave you thirsty for more.


5-Star Reader Views Kids Review of The Devil Particle


“The Devil Particle” by Kristin A. Oakley is a fast-paced dystopian thriller that follows teenager Paul Salvage as he navigates the life and death challenges required to become the chosen vessel that will harness the world’s evil and save humanity from extinction. Over twenty wars currently ravage the landscape worldwide. It is the widespread senseless acts of violence, murder, and cruelty that push a group of fifty well-meaning yet naive seventeen-year-olds to compete for the prestigious honor of becoming the chosen one.

Scientists have discovered the agoniston particle in human DNA responsible for evil thoughts and actions and a way to extract it. They believe one righteously pure human with a solid core of goodness can become a vessel strong enough to resist temptation, avoid manipulation, and contain the world’s evil. Yet, no one considers what effect that much evil will have on a human’s soul, sanity, or life.

With little information on the challenges ahead or the severity of failing the tests, Paul and a handful of friends embark on a life-and-death battle to survive and escape the labyrinth of mind games and physical competitions that define the vessel trials. Quickly, the contestants discover the competition will push them to their breaking point and beyond. Their lives are on the line as they navigate harrowing situations, face their fears, or die. Their only choice is to keep moving, try and make it to the 52nd floor of the highrise test center unscathed, and survive.

Author Kristin A. Oakley’s “The Devil Particle” is a heart-pounding adventure that immerses the reader into a world of despair and desperation. Ms. Oakley’s descriptive writing style invites the reader to build a rapport, pick their favorite contestant, and be wary of others. Challenging tests pushed the teens to their limits, leaving my eyes wide open as I held my breath while heart-wrenching scenarios came to life. Morally right and wrong choices come into play with no clear answers, keeping the challenges thought-provoking. The reader will remain on their toes while Oakley sets the stage for multiple twists and turns, then a cliffhanger that leaves you in shock and anxious for the next installment in the series.


Author Reviews


The Devil Particle is nonstop action from the first page. I couldn’t put it down! Think Hunger Games meets Divergent with much more excitement and bigger odds. World evil type consequences. I loved it and I can’t wait to read more. – Brea L.R., author of the Love and Surviving Series.


The Devil Particle is a gripping roller coaster of suspense that will leave you questioning the future of humanity. From page one, readers are hurled into a moral dilemma—is it ethical to store all the world’s evil in one person to ensure the survival of mankind? The world Oakley has created is terrifying, believable, and incredibly complex. The themes of free will, loyalty, honor, and betrayal are explored in a way that is both thought-provoking and gut-wrenching. But what really sets this book apart is its exploration of the gray area between good and evil. Oakley’s writing reminds us that humans are not simple creatures, and our choices often come at a high cost. I can’t wait to see what Oakley has in store for us in the next installment of this series. If you’re looking for a thrilling read, look no further than The Devil Particle. – Margaret M. Goss, Award-winning Author of The Uncommitted



To learn more about my adventures while writing The Devil Particle Series, check out my Author Newsletter.

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