Review: Halo

Three angels are sent down to bring good to the world: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. But she is the most human, and when she is romantically drawn to a mortal boy, the angels fear she will not be strong enough to save anyone—especially herself—from the Dark Forces.

Is love a great enough power against evil?–From Amazon

Halo is the first book in a trilogy by 18-year-old Australian author Alexandra Adornetto. In the series, a triad of angels must work, in human form, to save a small town from the forces of evil. One angel, Bethany, develops friendships and connections with humans she encounters in high school. Against the will of the other angels, she begins a romantic relationship with a mortal boy, Xavier. Throughout the book, Bethany experiences human sensations for the very first time. Reading Adornetto’s objective and detached descriptions of human customs was the most enjoyable part of the book for me. I was often impressed by how well she managed to capture the little things that would seem odd to someone from another realm of existence.

In other aspects, I was less impressed. I found myself thinking, “This is a great book for an 18-year-old author.” Then I wanted to smack myself. I would NEVER think, “This is a great book considering it was written by a 35-year-old.” I want a great book to be a great book, no matter how old the author. Adornetto is clearly talented, but I think the book still possesses a certain naivete that one would expect from somebody her age. I also think that her writing will improve considerably with a few more years of experience.

This book is really long, and it felt it. I don’t know if learning how to murder your literary darlings comes with maturity, but I think the novel could have used some editing and chopping. There was so much good material in here, but it drowned amongst the more mundane scenes. I don’t know why YA in general seems to be moving toward giant books, but I wish it would stop. So much of what I love about the genre has to do with brevity.

Beyond that, the romance between Bethany and Halo suffers from the usual over-attachment that has become the norm in YA paranormal romances. I won’t argue that teens sometimes fall in love very quickly and then spend a disproportionate amount of their lives thinking about each other, but I don’t understand how an angel–a supernatural and divine being who has been around a while–could depend so much on the protection of a human, teenage boy. Once Bethany falls in love, she becomes utterly weak. I wish I could take the relationship at face value and enjoy it for what it is, but I worry about the message teen girls keep getting pounded into them about dating. In fact, I worry far mar about that than I do about the depictions of drugs and drinking because I think there’s a psychological subtlety to the way romance is portrayed that is different from the relatively clear-cut depiction of substance use. Dependency to the point of powerlessness shouldn’t become normalized in humans or supernatural creatures.

I will now step off my soap box. If these kinds of things don’t bother you, then definitely pick up Halo and keep an eye out for the books that follow it in the trilogy. As I said before, I will be curious to see how Adornetto develops as a writer. I can definitely see her as a force to be reckoned with a few more years of life and writing under her belt.


6 Responses to "Review: Halo"

  • I haven’t read this book, and based on the reviews I’ve read so far, I most likely won’t be reading it.

    I agree with you about the ugly trend in the way romance is being portrayed in YA books. I can think of several books I’ve read recently that have brought this issue to light in my mind. What’s clearly lust ends up being dressed up and passed off as “true love” with no depth or substance. There’s no getting to know each other, or sharing interests, or even having much of a meaningful conversation before the young pair decides they’re “in love” with each other and are willing to do anything to be together. And then there’s the transformation that the heroine unfortunately goes through…she starts off strong, independent, smart, and ambitious and then sadly turns into a weak, dependent, obsessive girl the moment the “hot” love interest enters the picture. Worst of all, all of her interests and priorities end up getting discarded at the sidelines, and her existence starts to almost completely center around the guy. That’s just not healthy and a terrible example for teen readers, particularly girls. I just don’t get why authors are perpetuating this. Maybe I was a weird teenager, but finding “the one” was not a priority of mine when I was in high school. Sure I had my fair share of crushes and I dated, but I never put a guy before my family, my friends, my goals/aspirations, and/or school. So, I totally can’t relate to or respect these types of heroines.

    Okay, I’ll stop myself…sorry for the rant. Thanks for the review!

    1 Marg K. said this (September 1, 2010 at 6:36 PM)

  • Marg, I think this is a topic that calls for some ranting, and you definitely hit the nail on the head. I’ve never been like that with relationships either, in part because I have dated guys who were also busy and ambitious. I think it’s important for both people to focus on their own goals rather than having an all-consuming relationship that wipes away any individual interests.

    The speed at which people fall in love in a lot of books drives me crazy, but I don’t know that it’s totally unrealistic. I’ve been around plenty of teens, usually younger teens, who were in love after one day and then hated each other the next. Part of what I enjoy about that age is the intensity of emotions, but it’s frustrating to see so little development at times.

    Anyway….no need to preach to the choir.

    P.S. I just checked out your site and it looks great. Added to my Google Reader so will have to look through some of your reviews soon 🙂

    2 Melanie said this (September 1, 2010 at 7:06 PM)

  • Yeah, you’re right, it’s not entirely unrealistic. I’ve definitely had friends who were very impulsive (and at times bipolar, lol) when it came to relationships. I get it, but I suppose I just feel like there isn’t enough balance (in some of these books) between that intensity of emotions and the developing maturity & personal identity that comes with young adulthood. I just really, really want to see more young heroines that are truly empowered and don’t lose sight of their own self-worth.

    P.S. Glad you liked my blog. I just started it a week or two ago, so there isn’t much to see yet. I’ve only put up one review so far, but I’m definitely planning on putting up more reviews and other book related stuff within the next few days. 🙂

    3 Marg K. said this (September 1, 2010 at 8:20 PM)

  • I remember when I first same this one months ago (in April I assume) I immeadiately fell in love, due to the cover and the angel aspects but then I read the summery and it felt dull in my opinion. And I noticed its length and wondered if it could shorter, others felt the same way also. But I haven’t read this book, and I don’t think I will soon. Thanks for the great review~

    4 Gabrielle said this (September 4, 2010 at 8:49 PM)

  • The cover is gorgeous! I think it drew me in far more than the summary.

    I’m much more interested in promoting books than discouraging people from reading anything, well…almost anything. If you get a chance, maybe pick it up from the library or something and see if it’s your cup of tea.

    5 Melanie said this (September 4, 2010 at 11:46 PM)

  • I really credit the person who made the cover, and the wings! But I will read this book, probably from the library, but not now because I’m busy but I will read it because I’m curious to how I’ll like it and all. Hopefully I may enjoy it, because the cover and all. Hehe.

    6 Gabrielle said this (September 6, 2010 at 9:03 PM)