Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Halo (second review for 'The Descent of the Angels Reading Challenge')

This is my second angel book review!
I had originally planned to post my review of Unearthly,
but things have turned out a bit differently...

Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Hardcover, 484 pages
Published by Feiwel & Friends (an imprint of McMillan),December, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal romance

This book's beautiful cover, as well as the subject matter, ensured that it would be featured on many YA blogs.  I couldn't wait to read it!  I have always found angels fascinating, but have not encountered them in fiction before (except for my unfinished reading of Unearthly.)   

This novel swept me away with its romantic enchantment, and also contained some very awe-inspiring glimpses into the angelic realm.  The story pulls the reader into its own unique world, and is a definite page-turner!

I love the characters, as well as the entire idea for the story, which features three angels who arrive, in human form, at the seaside town of Venus Cove.  They have a mission -- to watch over the town and its inhabitants, as they exert their heavenly influence over it.  The forces of darkness are looming on the horizon... 

The angels are Gabriel, the mighty Biblical Archangel, Ivy, an angel who possesses healing powers, and Bethany, the youngest of the three, who, like Ivy, is able to heal, although her main function in Heaven is to ease the transition of newly-arrived souls, especially those of children.  The angels are presented as siblings, which I think is a very nice touch -- the reader can immediately identify with and even empathize with them.

Bethany is the focus of the story.  As the youngest angel, she feels more of an attraction for human life, with all its emotions and beauty, than the other two.  She falls in love with the captain of the rugby team at Bryce Hamilton, the high school in which she enrolls as a student.  Her love for Xavier Woods ultimately becomes a possible obstacle to the angels' mission.  Although Gabriel and Ivy attempt to prevent Bethany from getting entangled in a romantic relationship, her attraction to Xavier is just too strong.  Eventually, Gabriel has no choice but to consult with the Covenant, a group of angels that form a 'high court' in heaven, rendering judgement when needed.  The verdict is favorable; the young couple are permitted to continue their relationship, for the time being.  Still, Bethany is aware that she may never see Xavier again once their mission ends....

The first 300 pages of the book serve to set up the story and develop the budding romance, which is very touching and poignant, if not entirely believable.  Bethany acts too much like an average human girl.  Her angelic powers are rarely in evidence, except for the scene in which she reveals her true nature to Xavier, her body glowing as she flies off the edge of a cliff.  The rest of the time, however, the reader would think this was a typical, non-paranormal YA romance. 

Bethany even craves Xavier's 'protection'!  But she' angel.  If anyone needed protection, it should be Xavier, not Bethany!  Why would a mere mortal presume to try to protect an angel?  I found this to be so ridiculous!  Had it not been for this, I would have given the book five stars.

I especially enjoyed the Christian underpinnings of the novel.  It only makes sense to mention God in a novel whose main characters are angels.  Adornetto never 'gets preachy', either.  She weaves the Christian elements very naturally into the story, just enough for readers to know what the background is.  The battle between good and evil in the novel is put into the context of the great rebellion of Lucifer and his angels -- this is all taken from the Bible, and Adornetto rightfully makes no apologies for that.

The forces of darkness make an appearance in the last 200 pages or so of the novel.  The action starts to build up slowly, almost imperceptibly, until things get very intense.  A demon is introduced into the story, although he is not initially identified as such.  Things start to get a little strange.  Suddenly, there are acts of vandalism and arson in this quiet town, and then, something really shocking takes place -- an apparently inexplicable suicide. 

Towards the very end of the novel, conflict fully erupts, and we see Gabriel in all his mighty glory, wielding his flaming sword.  I thought that surely, in this final confrontation with evil, Ivy and Bethany would come into their own, and the reader would see their powers fully revealed.  Incredibly, only Gabriel fights the demon.  However, it is the power of Xavier and Bethany's love that ultimately defeats him, and that is very satisfying!  Love always triumphs over hate.

Although Adornetto has obviously been influenced to some extent by The Twilight Saga and The Vampire Diaries, the story is still very unique and original.  The relationship between Xavier and Bethany is very sweet, as they are totally devoted to each other in a very spiritual way, in spite of the physical attraction they also feel.  The world-building is excellent, remaining true, for the most part, to what we know of angels through the Bible.  Written in a simple, direct, yet flowing style, Halo fully engages the reader throughout.

I will definitely keep a look out for the next book in this new series, Hades, which is scheduled for release on August 30, 2011.  The title refers to the name used by the ancient Greeks for the underworld, which is known today as Hell....  It sure promises to be a fabulous read!!



  1. Hi!
    Just found your blog and am now following:)

    Feel free to come and have a look at my blog:

    And if you feel up to it you can send me a review for the Twilight series since you obviously love them so much! That's what my blogs is about-the books we love:)

    See you!

  2. Hi, Chi! Hey, thanks for the comment and the follow!! I'll be visiting your blog as soon as I can! : )

  3. I haven't read Halo yet, but I really must after reading your review. 'Angel' books aren't usually my favorites, but there are some notable exceptions. And I have to agree that the cover is gorgeous. Thanks for the review, Maria! :)

  4. Yes, you really MUST read this book, because the romance is very beautiful! Sigh... I only wish Bethany had acted more like an angel. Still, I really enjoyed this book, and might very well read it again!

    You're very welcome for the review! And thank you for the visit and lovely comment!! You are such a nice person!!! : )

  5. i like "HALO"..i gave 4 stars too...better than unearthy i think :)

  6. Hi, Nurmawati!

    Yes, I like this book, but, as I mentioned in my review, the relationship between Bethany and Xavier is just not that believable.

    As for UNEARTHLY, I didn't like it that much, either. In fact, I didn't finish reading it. Now I'm having second thoughts, and I think I'll go back and finish it.

    Thanks so much for commenting, as well as for participating in my giveaway!! :)

  7. Great review! I felt that if you read Halo you must read the other two sequels right after because there are so many cliff hangers!

    1. Hey, Cali!

      Thank you!! Yeah, I do want to go on to the rest of the series, even though I did have some quibbles regarding Bethany's relationship with Xavier. And I LOVE cliff hangers!!

      Thanks for commenting on this review, and participating in my giveaway!! :)

  8. I was just not taken with Halo ): I just felt so much negativeness toward the book and their characters. I felt that there was so much that was frustrating and annoying. I was very expectant of this series and it just fell short for me.

  9. I have seen so many reviews for this book, and they range from absolute hatred of Halo to complete adoration of Halo. I haven't read it yet, so I honestly have no opinion. I think it is one of those books that you just have to take a chance with! Thanks for the review! By the way, I hope you did finish Unearthly. If you like Angels, that is one of the best series out there.

  10. I already have this book but haven't had a chance to read it. I like the idea, but some friends said this book just a so so...but I'd love to read it myself :)
    I like your review. Thanks for the review.

  11. This sounds like a good read, but the heroine sounds like she needs to grow a backbone.


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