I actually picked up this book immediately (maybe the day it came into my library), thinking it was a different YA book I had read an excellent review for, A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young. Both were angel-type books even though, I think the angel trend should be over. And both have an angelic looking teen girl on the cover, with some orange/yellow tints. Any way, I’m glad I made the mistake because I really enjoyed this one, and I will have to stay on the look out for the other one too.
Why do I really want the angel trend to be over? Because all YA angel books have been a little too romantic for me. And, I love romance. Really, I do. It’s just I like my YA graph pie to be more like this: 50% plot, 30% awesome character, and 20% leeway room for things like true love and first kisses. When a book is more than 50% of what I normally want the leeway room to be, I tend to have a bit of a gag reflex. I need YA characters to be more than just lovesick puppies. I need them to be strong, rebellious, intelligent, independent, and thought provoking. And I know that rarely is a character all of these things (one exception being Katniss), but a character needs to be at least one or two of these things for me to really care about them. And then, after the romance aspect, I would like them to still maintain these characteristics, instead of just having them overshadowed for a boy.
Okay, lovesick angel rant done. I enjoyed Angel Burn, even though it had a lot of romance…Maybe not 50% (if anything because the romance didn’t really start till the second half), but there was a huge chunk of it. Maybe 35-40%...
But, before I get into that, I will explain the story a little. One main character, Willow, grows up thinking she is psychic. She lives with a rude aunt and a very ill mother. She can tell people’s possible future paths, and even their past paths with just one touch. And everything changes when she reads a classmate’s future and sees an angel. She sees the angel how the girl does, a being with great power, who saved her. But when she gets to the girl’s future paths, she sees the angel making the girl more and more weak, ill, and completely covered in an exhausting grey cloud. Willow tries to convince the girl to not take the path that leads her to the church of the angels, but the girl is so happy for someone else to know that angels exist, that she doesn’t listen to Willow, and goes off immediately in search of her angel.
Alex, the other main character, has been training and killing angels his whole life. He knows first hand the effects an angel can have. His friends and family have all been killed by angels and angel burn (when an angel makes you feel as though its feeding off your energy is a blessing). He gets texts on his phone that send him around the country, killing off as many angels as he can. The book really begins with the text sent to him, requiring him to kill Willow, who we soon learn is half angel –the only half angel to ever be known to exist. Soon, the angels find out about Willow, and they read that one of her future paths involves annihilating them all, so they send the growing angel religion population after her, hoping for her death. And when I say growing population, I mean there are infomercials, churches, communities, and whole towns of up to hundreds of thousands of people who have all had angel burn already.
Alex, liking the idea that she can help him get rid of more angels, takes Willow with him, narrowly escaping many angel supporters at various locations around the country. They eventually learn how Willow can help get rid of angels, and there is a lot of angel/human identity crisis, where Willow cannot understand why Alex can even be in the same room as someone part angel. The book ends with some action packed standing up for what is right moments, and a lot more angels coming, ending with a good transition all ready for book 2 in the soon to be trilogy.
What I loved most: the concept of angels feeding off the energy of people. They look like the angels painted in Renaissance paintings (or that is how I pictured them), but they are not sent from God (I hope). For all I know, they have absolutely nothing to do with religion; it’s just the population that portrays them as Godly. They could be monsters or aliens even, because they come form a different world. And what makes it slightly believable is that the angels researched things, and practiced things. They were being sent in waves to make sure they could survive on Earth.
What I didn’t love: the author didn’t allow for much surprise. After one chapter with Alex, I realized Willow had to be at least part angel (I realized this way before she did). And then I realized her parentage way before she did. I realized a lot of things too early, and I know the author did this on purpose, in effort to make her readers feel super smart, but it kind of just made me feel super annoyed. I need more surprise, please. Also, I loved the character point of view shifts between Alex and Willow. But, I was not feeling the random one time point of view shifts with some not-as-important yet characters. I think the book needed to stay just Willow and Alex. The other characters just did not fit with the writing style for me; it actually kind of confused me and this took away from the plot.
And of course there was the romance. At first, I loved it. There was so much tension built up on those long car rides. But it was very believable; the romance took it’s time. Eventually, I did hit some gag reflex moments, but they weren’t too bad because Willow remained Willow and Alex remained Alex, after the romance. For a couple of minutes there I really thought their love would prevent the plot from continuing, but it didn’t. Willow was strong enough to do what was right even though other things were a lot more tempting. I liked Willow and, and I loved Alex. Don’t read this though, if you are not in the mood for a little sappiness. I give it a 8/10.