Series: Avena #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Published on June 25th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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For as long as Ebony can remember, she's been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It's as if she's being hidden. But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can't be concealed. She's growing more beautiful by the day, she's freakishly strong, and then there's the fact that she's glowing.
On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she's intensely drawn to him. It's as if something explodes inside of her--something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn't know that she's a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.
Ebony is a sheltered, naïve sixteen year old who doesn’t know she is really a kidnapped angel, hidden away in a valley while her real family searches for her. When she bumps into her charge outside a nightclub, the good guys finally find her, and now they have to convince her to return to Avena before the evil dark prince comes to claim her as his bride.
The worldbuilding was light on: there was no explanation of where angels come from or if they are related to God. While humans have free will, angels fall in love and marry, so they’re not the traditional Christian interpretation of angels. Ebony is even raised as an atheist and has a hard time accepting that she is an angel.
While the story was set in the real world, there were numerous references to other realms and dimensional teleportation portals the angels use to travel between those realms. One of the thing I did like is that only people who can fly can travel between the portals, so until Ebony grows her wings, she’s stuck on Earth. The other thing I liked was that the setting was so clearly Australian. It was cool to see an angel battle in the Australia bush.
CHARACTERS + RELATIONSHIPS
The relationships really took the cheap and easy way out: Ebony and Jordan have this special ‘bond’ courtesy of being Guardian Angel and charge, while Ebony and Nathaniel (Thane) have a special bond because they are destined to marry. There was no building of these close bonds, they just suddenly erupted into being. Similarly, Ebony’s best friend Amber was her best friend long before the opening page, and although I liked seeing Amber being protective towards her best friend, I just kind of felt that she was there so Ebony wasn’t surrounded by masculine energy all the time.
WHAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK
The romance failed. Jordan seemed to think he was in love with Ebony while everyone thought he wanted Sophia. Thane was creepy but after her initial hesitation (because trusting Thane right away would have been weird and lacking conflict) she seemed to trust him, and he was always picking her up and carrying her places like a good damsel in distress.
Adam Skinner’s situation didn’t ring true: for attempted murder he’s released into custody and then somehow becomes the pawn of the evil guy who wants Ebony – this evil guy, who could not have known about the animosity between Jordan and Skinner.
The plot didn’t exactly wrap up some loose ends, leaving it open for the sequel. And certain worldbuilding rules such as ‘There is NO WAY the bad guys can break into this fortified, protected, magical space’ quickly turned to ‘Oh noes, the bad guys have breached our defences!’
While the writing was generally a bit clumsy, leaving me to wonder at motivations and introspections, the plot kind of seemed like it was written by a teenager – the beautiful, naïve, innocent but secretly powerful girl being chased by her true love, her new male BFF, and the evil guy who just wants to bone her. Kind of reminds me of House of Night, with Zoey Redbird and all of her ‘legitimate’ boyfriends.
Also, I have an issue with the blurb. It says:
“She’s growing more beautiful by the day, she’s freakishly strong, and then there’s the fact that she’s glowing.”
Now, in the book, nothing indicates that she is becoming more beautiful every day – there is a reference to her being taller and curvier than Amber, and that she’s suddenly grown boobs, but nothing about her daily increasing beauty. We see one instance of her being strong, which is when she knocks Jordan into a wall but we hear much more about how she’s an uncannily fast runner and skips gym class. And not once do I recall an instance of her glowing apart from when she healed Jordan. So I kind of feel like the blurb was a little misleading.
While I was reading it I just kept reminding myself that it’s written for teenagers and trying to imagine that I was the kind of teen who liked to pretend I was the main character in the book I was reading. Maybe that way I would be charmed by the hot angel and his also-hot nemesis, fighting over me *swoon much?*