I have some mixed feelings. "The Collector" follows Dante in the first person- he is telling us his story. Dante died two years ago, and since death, he has worked as a collector for the "Boss Man" aka the devil. Dante and 5 others wear cuffs that allow them to stay on Earth in exchange for placing stamps on souls who are doing bad things. Once a soul is covered by stamps (theirs and their counterparts), they can collect it, and that person will immediately go to hell upon death. If a soul is not collected prior to death, then it goes to Judgement Day where it's a toss up, and they are not assured to go to hell.
Alright, so they have certain limitations, meaning they cannot harm a human and cannot just throw stamps around- they have to see something bad, but it can be something small like being rude to someone or something big like crime. They also apparently must mostly live like humans, traveling in airplanes or cars to get around. So, how do 6 people do enough work/create enough volume to be worth it with these limitations? I am not sure- it's not really well explained. It seems all 6 are in the US also, so I guess other countries' souls are safer/get to go to Judgement Day automatically? I feel like that's a pretty small number (or are there others who are not in the flesh? Something else to explain this?). There also do not appear to be term limits and they cannot die, so it's unclear why Dante is the most experienced/oldest of the Collectors, and he's only been dead for 2 years.
Accepting all that, Dante is up for promotion- if he just collects this one soul first. Should be easy-peasy right? Well, he has to give stamps for bad things, and that can take a while (again, surprising that any souls could be collected with 6 Collectors handing out stamps and many stamps needed to seal a soul to be collected). Twist! A contract does exist- previously unbeknownst to the Collectors- where a person can give up their soul in exchange for something.
The soul Dante is sent to collect is Charlie's. She is unattractive, as Dante frequently reminds us. But, you know, she's a good person. So Dante gets her to sign the contract in exchange for beauty. As she becomes more beautiful, Dante becomes more attracted to her and starts liking her and has a change of heart. I could almost see this being an internal struggle not really attached to Charlie, but more of a what-am-I-doing-with-my-afterlife thing, but it was more tied into Charlie and wanting to save her (I think I would have liked it more if it was an internal thing where this tipped the scales). As-is, I could have bought into this more if I really thought he liked her for her, but they only have a couple scenes with some glimpses of more before she becomes more beautiful. Even then, it seemed so sudden, and she trusts easy. The book really latches onto the bad-guy-turned-good-by-girl.
My biggest concerns were about Dante's selfish and jerky personality, mainly things that I didn't think were needed to get the point across. There's the over-the-top denouncement of Charlie and her friends as ugly with plenty of unflattering descriptors which is tough to read (because who among us looks like an air-brushed model?) but you know, he's going to change. Later, after things are "changing," when he takes Charlie and friends to Vegas and Charlie and her female friend are dancing together, he says "I wonder why the slightest bit of booze turns chicks into lesbos." I am not even sure I can explain how offending this sentiment is, and this is supposedly right around the time of his dramatic change. Girls dancing together does not make them sexually attracted to each other, so you aren't "turning" anyone anything. I am pretty sure, at least in this context, lesbos is derogatory and should not be used (Why did that even need to be there? We already know he's just a mean guy all around).
Anyway, beyond those concerns, the book is a fast read with a good pace, and I was interested in The Collector aspect (which seems, to me, to be a new idea even if I still have some questions). Scott is a great writer, and her books always pull me in with the writing. I would have liked some more fleshing out of the job/afterlife and internal struggle with less of the insulting remarks (I think we could have gotten his shallowness without this). Overall, I am left with some mixed feelings.
Please note that I received a copy from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.