As my post title says, I’ll be going over two books in this review. Both are from the Angel Fire series – Angel Fire (Book #1) and Angel Burn (Book #2). I know there’s a third book, Angel Fever, and I’m guessing it is the final installation in this story. I haven’t read it yet though. Angel Burn was so hefty and drawn out, I think I need a break from this world. However, first things should be first so I’ll start with Angel Fire.
Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil.
When I initially read this, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. It was interesting, but not what I would call an automatic favorite like Susan Ee’s Angelfall. To be honest, it still isn’t but after having sat with it for a while, I did enjoy it. It seemed a little long for a first book in a trilogy though (455 pages). To me, first books should wet the appetite and make you wish for more. This intro into Willow’s world was more of a full on meal. I wouldn’t say it dragged really… There was just a lot going on!
We start by meeting Willow as a typical high school girl – Nothing special, a little weird because she’s psychic, but that’s it. Average looking with average physical fitness. She lives with her aunt and helps take care of her mom who is mentally disabled. There’s no real mention of a father unless it’s the aunt lamenting that it’s Willow’s father’s fault for her mother’s condition. It’s not until about a quarter of the way into the book that we first hear of the angels. There’s a classmate that has met one and is planning to join the Church of Angels (a church set up by the angels so humans can worship them) but she wants Willow to read her future to confirm that it’s the best idea. When Willow sees through this girl’s palm the true damage that is being done to the people around her, she tries to stop the classmate from meeting with the angel again. This, of course, backfires epicly when the angel comes to confront Willow and realizes that she is a half angel. Something that isn’t supposed to exist at all.
Enter Alex. He’s an assassin by trade, trained to kill angels specifically. Believing he works for the CIA’s Project Angel division to combat the threat to humanity that angels have posed, he’s completely unaware that the angels have infiltrated the highest levels of the program. Alex, a legend in his own right for his efficiency and sterling record of dispatching his missions with zero problems, is also the son of the founding father of Angel Killers, AKs for short, which were absorbed by the CIA after Alex’s father’s death. Unfortunately, the AKs are basically being used as a government sanctioned hit squad by the angels now. All communication is done through text. He gets a location and basic description of the angel to be killed. No questions asked. He just does his job and moves on to the next assignment. That’s it. So when he gets the notice to take out a female angel, he thinks nothing of it. However, upon arriving in Maine and observing Willow to access the best time to strike, he begins to notice that something isn’t quite right about this job. She’s angel but not and doesn’t appear to be attacking humans either. Intrigued, he decides to wait and see what she’s about first. It’s not until he follows her to a Church of Angels service where she tries to save her classmate that he decides she shouldn’t be killed and there’s more to this story.
The rest of the book is spent with Alex and Willow on the run together. Alex has an instinctual distrust of all things angel so even though he finds Willow attractive, he still considers “other” for most of the book. Willow, for her part, spends the majority of her time grappling with finding out she’s half angel and what all that means (besides dodging angry Church of Angels followers bent on killing her). As with most couples that are on the lam and dependent on each other for survival, a friendship does eventually blossom and as trust slowly builds, so does the attraction. This budding new love is tested at the end when Willow is asked to take on essentially a suicide mission to stop the angels.
In my opinion, Weatherly is a master at the slow burn. I love that Willow and Alex’s relationship grew organically and it wasn’t the insta-love so many YA books have nowadays. Honestly, if that’s what I’m in the mood for, I’ll just pick up one of those 200 some odd page $3 Kindle romance stories. Most of the time though, I’d prefer it to be somewhat believable. The downside to seeing it all play out slowly, is it’s just that: Slow! While the story was interesting, I found myself getting distracted in places and once that happens, I get pulled out of the book. I honestly don’t know what could’ve been cut or edited to make it better but it’s something I experienced and disliked. In the end, I gave it 4-Stars on my Goodreads page.
Now I’ll get into my review of Angel Fire. If you’re not looking for spoilers (not that I am really giving you any), I’d suggest you stop reading. From Amazon:
In the wake of the Second Wave, the angel menace has exploded, and Alex and Willow are on the lam. Willow’s prophetic dream points them to Mexico City, where they connect with a fledgling group of angel killers led by the exotically beautiful Kara, an Angel Killer from Alex’s past.
But the team remains suspicious of Willow, even after the more-experienced Alex takes over as leader, training them hard for a rush attack on the Seraphic Council, or “The Twelve.” This elite group of all-powerful angels is also under the scrutiny of Willow’s angel-father, Raziel, who has his own sinister plan to defeat them.
What Willow hasn’t told Alex is that there was also a mysterious boy in her dream, one she felt overpoweringly attracted to. When brooding, gorgeous Seb shows up in the flesh, he turns out to be another—possibly the world’s only other—half angel. He’s been searching for Willow all his life, and when Alex enlists this rival to help keep Willow safe, he can’t predict what chemistry will pass between them or how far Willow might go to keep Alex safe. Will their love endure or spell doomsday for the human race?
Okay, so I need a Gatorade after this marathon of a book. Like seriously, it was 638 pages! Normally, that wouldn’t be a big thing. I love big books and I can not lie. Haha! I am not, however, a fan of books that feel like they drag on FOREVER and don’t really move the main plot along! That’s what this one does and it completely killed the desire to pick up the third one any time soon. Let me set the stage…
The story opens with Willow and Alex on their way to Mexico to start a new training camp for Angel Killers (AKs). They choose Mexico City because Willow had a premonition that something serious was going to go down there. Great so far, yes? Absolutely! Then we run into Kara, a former AK that grew up with Alex and his older brother while their father ran the AK Camp in New Mexico. Shall I mention that Alex had a huge crush on Kara when he was younger? Even gave him his first real kiss? Kara has started a small band of former Angel Spotters that she is trying to train into AKs. (Backstory: Angel Spotters were the ones that kept an eye out for angels feeding off humans then relayed via text message the information to the Angel Killers). Our first encounter with this misfit group doesn’t go anywhere close to plan and Alex decides to step into the role of team lead. Sadly, while Alex is welcomed with mostly open arms, Willow is summarily shunned and distrusted.
Then comes Sebastian, or Seb for short. He’s another half angel. Personally, I’m struggling with his purpose in this story. On the one hand, he’s a handy tool to help Willow work through some problems she’s having with her angel self and to teach her skills she’ll need for the upcoming battle… But on the other hand, I almost feel like he was just created to cause drama where none was needed. According to Seb, he learned he was half angel when he was just a boy and has dreamed of Willow his whole life; even spending nearly every waking moment searching for her. Seb comes into the picture already deeply in love with Willow and wanting to be with her romantically. While he tries to hide his feelings at Willow’s request, Alex catches every lingering look and intense animosity grows between the two of them.
Furthermore, since both Willow and Seb are psychic, they pick up on the emotions of the other one. Initially, Willow is fascinated and awed by the fact that she’s not the only half angel in world. She also feels an intense draw to Seb (describing it as like meeting like). For her part though, she acknowledges that Seb is attractive but never truly doubts that she is in love with Alex. Willow combats Seb’s advances as smoothly as possible and never once lets him push past what would be considered friendly. Unfortunately, life is all about perception and their secret conversations and constant companionship sparks a deep jealousy in Alex. It all comes to a head when Alex discovers that some part of Willow’s mind is always on Seb, even when her and Alex are alone together. He asks her to choose between him and Seb. Willow, already concerned that she’s somehow hurting Alex’s life force, can’t imagine not having Seb around so she refuses to rise to Alex’s challenge. Alex takes that as her preferring Seb and breaks up with her.
Ultimately, the plot to destroy “The Twelve” seems to take a backseat to the emotional drama that unfolds around Seb, Willow, and Alex. Heck, even Kara gets into the mix when she kisses Alex while he and Willow are broken up. Sure, they talk a little bit about strategy, going on training hunts, getting their marksmanship up… But really, it’s mostly the relationships that take center stage. The actual battle only lasts maybe 20 pages. That was really disappointing to me. I enjoy a good angst ridden romance but this just seemed too much and a little forced. I didn’t get Seb’s feelings for Willow. How can you be in love with someone when you’ve never even met them? It seemed very stalkerish to me. I just don’t agree with the role Weatherly chose for him. I think it would have been so much better if he came on the scene as a friend or brotherly companion – sans the romantic feelings. It unnecessarily complicated things, drew the plot out way longer than it should’ve been, and took away from the story as a whole.
I finished the book feeling worn out emotionally. I was angry, sad, hopeful, frustrated, and at times happy. I just wished those feelings had more to do with the destruction of the angels than the interpersonal turmoil. I gave this one a 3-Star Review for the unneeded left field curve ball.