I really can't say that this book pisses me off to the same extent that a lot of books directed for teens have done so in the last few years. I just find it incredibly problematic. Halo wasn't horrible, but I wasn't exactly impressed either. Maybe a little impressed with how this book got passed the editing radar with rather sloppy character development and horribly paced story. Halo was written by a young Alexandra Adornetto when she was 17. Congratulations on writing a novel and becoming a New York Times Best Seller.
However, I'm going to be honest in this review.
Halo kicks off with three angel siblings coming to earth to spread good will and keep the faith among humans. Gabriel is an all powerful arch, warrior extraordinaire, one of God's favored angels. Ivy is an eight winged seraph, hangs out with God when in heaven, knits and cooks like nobodies business to pass the time on earth. These two are accomplished by an infant angel named Bethany who's strongest suit is being incredibly sympathetic towards humans. I thought most angels held that quality, but apparently Bethany loves just a little harder. The events that ensue for the duration of Halo involves two teenagers falling in love and a demon set out to break them up.
See, I believe anything has the potential to be an awesome story, if handled correctly.
You know, lets just start out with what I liked.
Bethany: The first third of this book was gold for her character. I can't express how much I loved her naivety, her questioning everything with wide eyed wonder, just partaking in the wonders of wanting to learn. Sure, she was judgey at times, but most of it seemed innocent. She questions her love for Xavier, pointing out to herself that she's only known him for a week and went on one date with him so it CAN'T be love. The scene where she gets drunk was surprisingly well done, Xavier gets her home and her brother and sister make her sleep off the hangover as punishment. It's nice.
Mythos: Surprisingly for the most part, I felt like the angels and bible lore were handled well. Thanks in part to Ms. Ardonetto being Christian, her angels characterizations came off rather well with some deep pot holes here and there.
So where did this book fall apart for me? With this being a supernatural romance, we know well in advance that there's going to be the reveal scene where the paranormal being sheds their skin. On their second pseudo date, a group outing to the beach, Bethany takes Xavier aside, points out her lack of foot prints and navel, sheds her shirt and lets her wings out in front of him. She essentially ruins the mission as no one's suppose to know about this, but for the rest of the chapter I breathed a collective sigh of relief when she's racked with nerves and nightmares for the night. The morning after, there's confrontation with Gabriel who's fuming and rushes out to convene with the angels. The first part of this book would have been an almost flawless set up. Bethany screws up, gets punished, and quite possibly Xavier gets mind crushed. That would be the reasonable outcome. Xavier gets invited to dinner and I'm expecting a very hostile confrontation but we're left with Gabriel giving his blessing on heaven's behalf. In a conversation about Bethany happening AROUND her, Gabriel instructs Xavier to 'Guard' Bethany with his life. My personal opinion would have to perhaps used 'Guide'? Instead we get him taking it to the literal extreme; carrying her books all the time, taking her to class, never letting her out of his sight. Bethany starts to center her life around Xavier and comments how she's glad her human best friend understands that in the early parts of a relationship friendship always takes the back seat while the couple spends all their time together.
After that, everything went down hill for me.
The Antagonist: Jake Thorn. First and last names are always used when talking about him. He's hot and embodies darkness, writes poetry and has a thing for Bethany. He quickly starts acquiring support from his classmates and something is 'off' about him. Bethany can sense it, Xavier does too, in fact, so do Ivy and Gabriel. Yet they do nothing but stand by waiting for something to happen. Jake Thorn writes a poem about a girl with the face of a angel and Bethany flies off the handle and confronts him in the hall about it. The two develop a friendship that feels like nothing more than acquaintances and when Xavier is injured, Jake Thorn takes her to prom instead and steals a kiss. Oh and prom is clearly just for girls. That starts a story arc if Bethany really wanted to be faithful to Xavier. As the story climaxes, Jake Thorn manages to kidnap Bethany and whisks her away to a cabin in the woods but he's defeated by the power of love. It feels like the climax Graceling has if you need a comparison, it happens so fast, if you blink, you'd miss it. In fact, Bethany was out for most of it so you kind of do. Over all, Jake Thorn was a barely there antagonist and a barely there character to boot.
Xavier: So he's a thing. He's athletic, good christian guy, loves his family. Like with Bethany, I liked his character prior to Gabriel giving the two heaven's blessing. It's nice not hearing about a guy who's constantly on the girls heels, ready to catch her in case she trips. That got remedied real fast though.During the prom arc, he doesn't call Bethany for almost a week and when confronted, he tells her he saw the picture of her and Jake Thorn kissing and questions her love and morals. This happens even after Xavier agrees Jake Thorn is no good. Sill, he's not as bad as some other romance heroes.
Pacing and Plot: With the help of the right editor, it could have been tightened up some. Most of the time, there wasn't anything but a shopping montage leading up to an arc climax. Characters were acting out for the sake of drama, often going out of character for something to do.
Other Girls: Halo follows the trend of most girls being vapid bitches or just there for comic relief, serving a role to make the lead heroine appear better than the others. Bethany is the one to get Xavier out of his two year relationship free stupor. She's pure and saving herself and doesn't judge others. Unless it's for their values or morals that don't quite match her own. Once Xavier and Bethany make their relationship official, all the girls start leering at her in the halls, but it's cool because all the guys congratulate Xavier.
I can't entirely hate this book, but I can't say I even like it. I can only hope that with Alexandra Adornetto's future work, she improves.