Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Series: Halo #1
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Summary (from Goodreads)
Three angels- Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human- are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.
Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.
The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?
What’s Good About It
Halo is one of those books where, when someone asks you if you’re enjoying it you say ‘yes’, then when they ask why you realise you’re sort of not. It sucks you in unwillingly, consuming huge portions of time while enraging you, but too quietly for you to notice until you stop and think about it.
Let me try to explain a little more eloquently…
Halo starts well. Beth comes across as relatable, interesting, with a certainly unique view-point. She is eloquent, intelligent, but also a little naive. Her mission, from Heaven, is to go to High School.
Okay, that blip aside, let’s push on. School is run of the mill. Beth befriends some flirty girls who are quite happy to include her in their circle despite her social ineptitude. Things progress rather dully until butterfly inducingly, heart meltingly gorgeous Xavier Woods comes on the scene. The friends all warn Beth he is inaccessible, that loads of girls have tried and failed to impress him. But, for no reason I can fathom, Beth and Xavier fall hopelessly in love.
Thus follows several hundred pages of prom preparation, mystical secrets being revealed, boy troubles, Xavier being almost unbearably overprotective, and no sign of a plot surfacing until the last quarter of the novel – a plot that is so much an afterthought compared to the central relationship that it comes across really strained and false.
Also, for all her endearingness in the first few chapters, by the end of the book I wanted to strangle Bella… I mean Beth.
Sorry, forgot what book I was talking about there.
I’ve used the dreaded T word to compare books before. Publishers do it all the time as well, tarnishing perfectly good books with comparisons to the tosh that is Twilight. However, with Halo there really is no truer comparison. It is Twilight. With angels.
And sorry, I also appear to have forgotten that this is meant to be the ‘good’ section.
What’s Not So Good
Adornetto sort of gets away with writing her own personal romantic fantasy drivel on account of being only eighteen, but really, if you’re going to read a book so close to Twilight, you may as well read Twilight. At least that was vaguely original.
Halo, at best, is like Twilight’s preachy cousin. It’s difficult to do angels without touching on the God thing, but really, people don’t like to be preached at, generally, and the ‘holier than thou’ attitude does wear a little thin.
And it’s a shame because it was so promising. The idea of an angel incarnate, experiencing the blessings of humanity for the first time is a great one, giving loads of room for exploration. In the opening few chapters there was a lovely passage about love being an inadequate word to describe all the different facets of the emotion – poignant and well observed. But after that it reduced to a slightly more upmarket version of toilet humour, playing on Bethany’s naivety with MILF gags and sex talk. I mean, if an angel has all of human knowledge (which she can use to do all her lessons and homework) surely there’s a section in that knowledge for the human vernacular? And if it had been done once, it would be fine, but it got a bit cringy after the fourth or fifth time.
Then the whole major issue of angels being sent to Earth to go to High School, I mean, come on! Surely there is a better way to exert divine influence than going to French class. And if I could divine a purpose for Bethany being there with Ivy and Gabriel, other than for authorial wish-fulfillment fantasy, then I would probably be a step closer to solving the greater riddles of the universe.
The ‘sex before marriage is for sluts’ message was present too. Browbeating with outdated moral messages is one of my least favourite things in YA literature. Sure, don’t encourage teenagers to go out, get wasted and sleep around, but credit them with enough intelligence to know what they want and definitely don’t try to make them feel bad about it.
And, of course, characters don’t have to be edgy to be interesting. We can root for the nice girl. But I, for one, can’t root for the character so vapid, if she had a personality it was lost somewhere in the black hole where her characterisation is.
Halo should have been the book that Adornetto lovingly showed her family and friends before locking it in the back of a cupboard somewhere while she worked on her real masterpiece, taking out occasionally when the going got tough to reminisce over fondly. Because she does have real potential. There is enough here to make me intrigued and keep me reading, and I think once she gets past her Twilight Fanfiction stage (we’ve all been there, well, I have, and would argue that it’s an important phase of writing development) she’ll turn out some really good novels.