Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly (Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, May 2011) [reviewed from electronic galley provided by publisher].
Willow is a seventeen-year-old high school junior living in Pawtucket, New York, with her cranky Aunt Jo and her mentally unstable mother. She has mad mechanical skills, and she's psychic--she can see people's futures when she touches them, and she feels compelled to help people when she senses their pain.
Seventeen-year-old Alex has never gone to school. Raised with his older brother by their father in a remote New Mexican desert camp, he's spent his life training to be an Angel Killer. Now that his father and brother are dead and the CIA has taken over the operation, Alex works solo, heading to whatever location the CIA's text messages send him to kill the latest threat to humanity. Angels have been draining human energy for years now, leaving people dead, diseased, or damaged, but recently it seems like there are more of them. He doesn't hesitate when he gets the message to head to Pawtucket to kill another one. Luckily, he watches first when he ends up at Willow's house, and sees something he's never seen before: a half-angel. He doesn't kill her, but he feels immediately drawn to her. He calls his CIA contact, but gets a bad feeling about the situation, as if it's angels feeding him information, not the CIA. He ends up following Willow, then rescuing her when she goes to a Church of the Angels to try to talk to a high school classmate who's become a victim of the angels. Together Alex and Willow head to New Mexico where Alex hopes his old friend and fellow AK Cully can help them foil the angels' plot to take over the world. He's sure that Willow's special powers will be pivotal in the operation and equally sure that the angels know it and want to destroy Willow. Along the way, Alex and Willow discover deep feelings for each other, feelings they try unsuccessfully to stave off, just as they face endless skirmishes with the angels.
This is an excellent paranormal romance with lots of action and suspense thrown into the mix. Weatherly portrays the evolving relationship between Willow and Alex nicely, as both characters are initially reluctant to acknowledge their feelings yet compelled to at last. The ending is somewhat forced, as Willow's actions fail to stop further angel incursions, but it's not clear why. Alex manages to save her, of course, but only one surmises so that there can be a sequel. Nonetheless, the story reads superbly and paranormal fans will enjoy it. Recommended for teens, 13 & up. Intense and sexual situations.
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