Title: Halo (Halo #1)
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
It's always a little hurtful to get a book that you expect to love because of something (the premise, the early buzz) and to have it be something other than what you expected. It's also really bad when you let that get in the way of reviewing the actual book. When this happens to me, it's always important that I step back for a few days and examine what worked and didn't work and remove the reaction that I could have prevented by being realistic about the read in question. Halo happened to require this course of action. It's a book I will recommend to some people for sure, but after waiting so long for it, I was a little disappointed.
Heaven has sent three angels to Venus Cove to help keep it on the path of goodness. The Archangel Gabriel, whose chiseled good looks and warrior mastery are unmatched. Ivy, the good angel whose healing techniques and abilities to inspire faith and adoration inspire millions Then there is Bethany. A baby at only 17 years of age, she is a relatively new angel. Her emotions are deeper than ever known, and she's more human than the other angels up in Heaven. Coming down to Earth will bring challenges for her, but she's ready to face them.
To assimilate into regular human life in Venus Cove, the angels set themselves up around a local Christian school. Bethany enrolls as a student, Gabriel a teacher, and Ivy is the homebody that does charity events nonstop. Bethany quickly gets into student life, and manages to learn a lot about humans. She gets friends and also learns about the dangers of alcohol and of not knowing about the world around her. One thing makes up for all of her little mistakes, and that thing is Xavier Woods. Kind and sexy and everything good in the world, he becomes smitten with Bethany.
The only problem is that angels and humans shouldn't fall in love. They're two different beings. Never meant to intermix or make love, they are entirely out of their jurisdiction. Not to mention Xavier isn't even allowed to know about who she really is. The love between them is strong, but many strong forces - good and evil - will try the couple as the angels begin to discover what's going on behind the scenes in Venus Cove. Halo is the start to a three book series that promises angelic passions and a look into the subtle evil of the world personified.
The type of person Bethany is relies exponentially on the mythology Adornetto uses for her world. Halo is based on the Christian idea of angels and a very pro-Christian belief system, so Bethany is seen as the stereotypical 'goody-goody'. She's kind and innocent concerning many of the things going on around her. She works with and loves children in Heaven and she thinks only the best of people when she can. Her attitude worked with what Adornetto was trying to right, and she luckily explained the reasons behind her lack of knowledge on more complex human affairs. Working with a character with Bethany is interesting because her trend of character growth is superficially negative as the series goes on. At least, that is what is possible, considering she is becoming more 'human'. I'm very interested to see where her progression will go. I hope to find her grow considerably in book two, because as of now her character is very hit and miss with my mood.
Xavier is her love interest, and I felt like he was much the same as Bethany. A good person. Some tragedies that prevent him from being emotionally sound in some aspects, but has a disposition that would win any girl over in real life. He got overprotective, and that annoyed me a lot throughout the book. He was extremely possessive of Bethany, and it didn't feel like it was in a good context. I wanted to see more from Xavier, because he should have been more human than Bethany. Granted, there were times when I enjoyed the romance, but it just didn't feel genuine in most of the read. Ivy and Gabriel had angelic dispositions, albeit more jaded ones, so they fit the bill nicely based on the mythology and such. I thought they had an interesting family dynamic with Bethany. They cared for her very much but were so used to distancing themselves from humans that the distance appeared in their relationship with her. I enjoyed Bethany's human friends as well, because I thought they were very good at being human but good people. Obviously they had faults and what-not, but they were never perceived as being entirely wrong in what they did. Jake was deliciously evil, and it was a nice change to see a second hottie male character that the female was in no-way attracted to. The downside was that I kind of wanted to see her respond to his evil and creepy self. It would have made for some very dramatic scenes.
Surprisingly enough, I actually enjoyed Adornetto's writing style. Reminiscent of Twilight in terms of length, I think it fit Bethany well and showcased some good imagery and what-not. For her age especially, I thought the styling was pretty mature. The issues with plot and characterization were reminiscent of her age, though, and I think her writing still needs to mature some. Which is why I'm willing to read the next book in the series, mostly. There are some interesting things going on, but the chance to see the author mature and knowing the author has a good chance of doing so cause me to want to do this. There were some interesting things, though.
What really was interesting - and I mean interesting, not interesting as a euphemism for stupid or awesomely unique - was the way that Adornetto used the mythology. I adore angel mythology no doubt. You put me in front of a book with angels and I will read it with no problem. Unlike Hush, Hush, though, the angel mythology is very Christian based. (Note that Hush,Hush is still based on Christian angels somewhat, but its gritty and doesn't mention it as a religious/well being experience.) This was kind of odd for me. I consider myself a faithful person, but I'm certainly not hugely religious at the moment. I happen to find faith - Christian faith especially - interesting, however, so reading this was a tad uncomfortable yet at the same time intriguing. It's not too subtle about its preferred status quo for religion, and while I understood that, I felt like Adornetto smoothed over a lot of problems. Venus Cove was too religiously vanilla. It felt like there was no distinction with people. No differences in faith or belief that would obviously be present. Having them work in a Christian school really didn't help this, either. Some mentions were really glossed over as well. She avoided any direct judgments - which I liked - but refused to take that thought process any further. I wanted to see more from it. How would Bethany react to characters with different faiths? How is that taken up in the angel's views? Why can she drink underage and not have that many consequences, or have her friends talk about sex without any thoughts one way or the other? Should she be mentioning this, or is it just subtext for 'it's not a part of the big picture'? One minute it was just being 'good', another minute it was all about 'God'. It just felt unclear, and like Adornetto missed some important possibilities here and there for the sake of something more obvious. While it made me think, I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't a purposeful thought process. I would have liked some explanation within the narration so I could at least have gotten an idea of what it was meant to be like.
Other than that, I felt like things were lukewarm. I enjoyed the ideas aside from some of the deeper misunderstandings, and I thought it was a cool premise. Angels coming down to Earth to help people and what-not. It's interesting enough to make me want to read the second book. The ending was just a jumble of events that end on a cliffhanger for future books in the series. It won't appeal to many people, and honestly it felt drastically uneven compared to the rest of the read. Despite my many qualms with this read, I really didn't dislike it. It made me think about religion, which is a plus, but it just feels like Adornetto has a ways to go before her series is truly fleshed out for the best. She has a good starter here, but her ideas get kind of twisted along the way.
There are some things I really questioned about Halo. Some characters I felt were well pictured, others I disliked, and the plotting was drastically uneven towards the end. It made me think quite a lot, which was good, but it has a serious case of the fuzzies that don't ring true to the character type Adornetto is writing about. My reaction is really personal because of the way I examine faith and what-not, but none the less the plot was cool and I have to admit I really want to read Hades and see where it goes from here. I hope that the next installment shows the author getting a better grasp of her characters and their views in this world, and with that and some more even plotting it could become quite an enjoyable read.
Cover: I adore this cover. The ring of light around the faces and the silhouettes of the wings and the bodies are gorgeous. The cover is my favorite part, and I am keeping it (partially) because it is so beautiful.
Rating: 3.0 Stars (Really wanted to rate it higher. Hope book 2 improves.)
Copy: Received from Tara at Zeitghost publicity. (Thanks a bunch, Tara!)