Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Halo
Alexandra Adornetto

Feiwel & Friends (2010)
496 pages
YA / Romance / Angels (not the cool kind)

Purchase it from Amazon here

About a month ago I received the second book of this series, Hades, from the publisher for review, so I went to my handy dandy library and got Halo to read as background.  Please keep in mind as you read this review that I was listening to Twilight during my commute at the same time I was reading this book, so it might get a slightly inflated review.  I mean, nothing can be as bad as Twilight, right?  Even with that said, this book is entirely too long at 500 pages.  It could have easily topped out at 250 pages and told the exact same story.

I should have known this wasn't going to be my type of story when I opened it up and, before the book even starts, there's a page with quotes.  Normally this doesn't mean much, but this page made me laugh loud and for a very long time.  Ms. Adornetto begins her book quoting first Shakespeare and then... Beyonce.

Two weeks later and remembering this still makes me laugh.  I should have stopped right there and returned it to the library.

There are things in this review that I guess some would consider spoilers, but I figured would happen from the beginning just from the context of the book blurb.  Proceed with caution, spoilerphobes?

So the world is falling apart because forces of darkness are coming to the surface and influencing humans to do bad things and be mean to each other.  Of course God decides to send some forces of good to counterbalance all this evil by dropping angels disguised as regular people into areas that are most in need of them.  Now, off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen places that angels could be useful – various places in the Middle East, the border between Texas and Mexico with all the drug cartel murders, a number of places in Africa suffering from famine – seriously, a lot of bad stuff happens in the world.  Sending angels to help in any of those areas would make sense and probably create a much more intriguing and unique story.

Sending them to a sleepy upper-middle class beachside town does not make sense.  Not even a little.

But alas, that’s where these three angels are shipped off to, including the Archangel Gabriel, who apparently has nothing better to do than teach rich kids music or something.  Then there’s Ivy, who does the most good out of the three, starting up charity programs and getting people more involved with their community.  And finally we have our main character Bethany, who is posing as a high school student because she is a newer angel that feels human emotion more strongly than her “siblings”.  Do not ask me why they sent the angel who is most suseptible to human emotion to a high school full of overly emotional teenagers.  That just seems like a bad idea.  She of course immediately falls madly in love with the standoffish popular Xavier, who, THANK GOD, is actually a really, really nice guy.  I think that alone gave me hope for this book – that the love interest was not a complete asshat and, if he existed in real life, would be someone with which I could spend more than five minutes.

But then he finds out that his new girlfriend is an angel and becomes overprotective of her to the point where I wanted to slap him on the back of the head and remind him that she’s an angel with superpowers.  If she can’t take care of herself, you have no chance, my friend.  By the end, the enigmatic Xavier is a bland shade of beige and Bethany is a useless, whiny teenage girl, so that I was rooting for the forces of evil to win.  I don’t think that was the author’s original intention.  Though with the implied “but their love is written in the stars” theme, perhaps it was her intent for them to become obnoxiously co-dependent.  I just can’t see how anyone could fathom that a teenage boy could protect a celestial being from harm if the celestial being were incapable.  Normal boy or superpowers?  Which would I rather have to protect me if I could not protect myself…?

I think my biggest problem with Halo was that we have a group of angels who are sent to a  peaceful town to battle forces of evil and they don’t really do anything.  Yes, more people are going to church, volunteering for community projects and being nice to each other, but that’s not much different than the way this sleepy little town was before the “Church family” arrived.  How is adopting an old lady’s dog helping fight the forces of evil?  Overall they’re pretty useless, which is frustrating because one of the angels is Gabriel, who is one of the more powerful angels in the garrison in the hierarchy.  Why is he wasting his time here doing nothing?  And why is Bethany so useless and stupid?  Where is Castiel and why won't he smite these poor excuses for angels?

My favorite part of the book was one Jake Thorn.  From the moment he arrives, you know he’s the previously dwelled upon “force of darkness”.  I mean, he has black hair, captivates everyone around him and for heaven’s sake, he’s British!  The goth girls pay attention to him, and his eyes sometimes appear black.  Of course he’s a demon!  The fact that Bethany does not pick up on this the very moment she steps into the same room as Jake changed her from the tolerable but annoying typical teen protagonist to the more intolerable type of female protagonist that causes me to yell out “How stupid are you?!” at regular intervals.  Despite all this, I loved Jake Thorn.  Even if some of his later story arc is extremely hokey and heavy handed, I liked him.  He was snarky, sarcastic and very clearly the bad guy, but he was also slick, charming and not overtly mean to anyone (at least from Bethany’s viewpoint).  I like my bad guys to be bad, not just misunderstood in their teen angst.

The writing itself is passable, even if Adornetto often times becomes heavy handed with the metaphors.  It’s not great, but it didn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out either.  Considering the main characters are angels, some religious talk can only be expected, but it does become way too much with the preaching at times.  Religion, God, and other similar non-sequiturs also come up at random, making the entire story screech to a halt.  If you’re going to put in that much religious dogma, perhaps you should also pay attention to the fact that angels who put their own desires before their missions from God have a tendency to get their butts kicked out of heaven, not get a reprieve to make more goo-goo eyes at their boyfriend.

Of course, the final battle began because Bethany did a stupid thing on top of yet another stupid thing, landing her in trouble.  While I won’t say how things are resolved, I will say that the last 50 pages or so are covered in layers of ooey gooey melted cheese.  Not in a good way either.  Though perhaps this is just a sign that I need to stay away from romance books for a good while…

So as I write this review and think more about this book, my opinion of it is plummeting rapidly.  I actually just bumped it down to two stars from three on Goodreads.  Maybe the fact that I was listening to Twilight at the same time didn’t help it much after all…

 

C-

Fluffy cotton candy book; silly characters doing silly things and thinking it’s important; easy read, but way too long; lead is an angel that acts like the most annoying co-dependent teenager not named Bella Swan