Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (NY: Feiwel & Friends, 2010).

What's the deal with all the angel books? Is it all part of the paranormal romance binge inspired by Twilight Inc.? Whatever it is, I've read a bunch and I have to say Halo, in spite of some shortcomings, is one of the best. First, Adornetto actually researched (gasp!) angels and employs the Catholic tradition rather than a hodgepodge of random angelology. The angels in this story have actually come down from heaven, where there is an actual God. And they want to help humanity by battling dark forces, though they take a remarkably long time to pinpoint the obvious demon, especially considering they're supposed to be ultraperceptive and have all these superhuman powers.

Gabriel, Ivy, and Bethany pose as three human siblings; Gabriel and Ivy are experienced and have had many missions on earth; Bethany is a relatively young and inexperienced angel, only seventeen years old. She is the most human of them, though they're all described as ethereally beautiful. They all have wings, too, that they have to hide under their clothes (as improbable as that sounds...). Once they've acclimated to earth, Bethany starts high school, and Gabriel teaches music there. Ivy spends her time doing good in the community. The emphasis on good works and community service is probably one of the highlights of the book--definitely an excellent message for young people. From her first day at school, Bethany is attracted to Xavier Woods, and the story revolves around their burgeoning romance, which of course has many stumbling blocks. Yes, they're chaste for the most part, but there is one (unfortunate, imho) scene where they get naked. And there is some (also unfortunate) discussion of why angels and humans can't have intercourse (it'll kill the human), and Bethany has to mull that over. The plot climaxes when the dark-and-scary new kid--guess who!--kidnaps Bethany, and Xavier and Gabriel have to come to the rescue. Naturally, the novel ends with a possible new enemy on the horizon so that there can be another book in which Bethany and Xavier have to fight demons and their baser impulses, as improbable as it is that an angel would even have them.

Despite these lapses, the story itself is entertaining and the romance engaging. Bethany's naivete provides some humor, as does Xavier's rambunctious family and the normal kids at the high school. Fine for ages 13 & up.

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