Monday, December 20, 2010


So, I finally bit the bullet and read an angel novel, attempting to see what the current supernatural teen obsession is about. And it's about what I expected, thus far. I probably didn't get the best example out there, but regardless, I have a problem with novels starring angels since I believe angels exist, though in a far different form than these books portray. Perhaps that's the problem: these teen novels are trying to make angels into these hot superpowers who can fall in love and make out; we know so little about the actual angels God created, but I know they aren't that, and I just don't want to go there. Nevertheless, I did read Harry Potter even though I believe witches are real, and I was able to see the value in that (though I don't ignore the dangers). So, I'll give angel romances the benefit of the doubt for now and stick to this novel's review for the remainder of the post.

Angelfire, the first in a trilogy and Courtney Allison Moulton's debut novel, is about a 17 year old girl whose powers to defeat demonic monsters are just awakening...or, more accurately, reawakening, because she's just discovered that she's the Preliator, a mysterious being who has reincarnated over thousands of years to try to make a difference in the ultimate battle between Good and Evil. But she's also just a 17 year old girl, trying not to fail in school, wanting to hang out with her friends. As her Guardian, a mysterious being 500 years old, who looks like he's 20 and hot, teaches her to access her power and remember who she is, she begins to see visions of her past lives. What she sees terrifies her and causes her to fear whom she really might be.

I don't know if any of this sounds familiar to you, but I felt like I was reading someone's fantasy of how they thought Buffy the Vampire Slayer should have gone. Teen girl reincarnates, kicks butt, kills monsters, has a nickname whose reputation precedes her, even has a mysterious being watching out for her. I wanted Moulton to change things up, do something Buffy wouldn't have done. I was disappointed.

I expected Ellie, the Preliator, to at least have some good fight scenes, but mostly, she just kept getting the tar kicked out of her by the same bad guys. I believe Moulton thought her fights were actually going much faster than they came out on paper. Once, toward the end of the book, I got an inkling of this when she wrote that it happened almost faster than Ellie could see. This was too little insight too late. I kept seeing opportunities for Ellie to chop off a monster's head, and she just wouldn't do it. She'd stab him in the chest, and he'd heal. Or her Guardian would be fighting, and I'd be wondering why Ellie didn't help. It was like only one person could fight the monster at a time. It was frustrating. I know why Moulton did it. She wanted to portray a character who was relearning skills but also just 17. The problem is, I didn't buy it. The chasm between the two sides of Ellie's character was too great. I didn't get a sense that Ellie ever felt like she was that thousands-of-years-old character, but she was no fragile 17 year old girl. I wanted to see more of both.

The ending was also disappointing. The book kept hinting at who Ellie really was, building it up almost further than it could deliver. I was just disappointed and skeptical when the truth was revealed. It didn't work for me. I found it kind of silly, actually.

But I expect Angelfire will get a lot of reads. It has an awesome cover (the heroine has red hair, which many do nowadays and I particularly like since I'm a redhead myself). It has a different sort of plot (if you've never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which most teenage girls have not). It has romance and teenage angst. If it's not popular, it'll be because the market's already inundated with books of its type.

There's nothing horribly inappropriate in this first novel of the trilogy, but that's not because of the author's moral compass. I wouldn't be surprised to find it in the sequels. There is a lot of lying, and a hot guy always comes in Ellie's window (Edward the Vampire did that too), which is never a good idea in real life.

The only cool thing about this book, for me, besides the pretty cover, is that my copy is signed to me by the author. My sister-in-laws brought it for me from a Book Expo. It's always cool to collect author signatures, even if you don't think their work was the best. Still, she's published, and I'm just writing a blog about her. Easier to be a critic than to create, so kudos to her.

Three out of five stars for potential popularity and entertainment value. Two stars for it's-been-done-before. Angelfire comes out in March 2011.

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