Wednesday 12 January 2011

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Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (#Ad)

Halo by Alexandra AdornettoHalo by Alexandra Adornetto

I was sent this review copy for free by Macmillan US for the purpose of providing an honest review.

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...Is love a great enough power against evil? From Amazon UK

I picked up this book in the need of a great, powerful supernatural love story. I wanted to be swept off my feet by a romantic story, and spend my whole time smiling - apart from when things got a little dangerous. What I got was a pretty good story, but nothing that blew me away.

Firstly, Alexandra Adornetto was seventeen when she wrote this novel. Seventeen. That's pretty damn amazing, and so is this novel considering her age. The language and amount of detail used was unbelievable. I'm twenty three, and perhaps I'm just not as intelligent as I could be, but I was coming across words that I don't hear every day, some I hadn't heard before. Perhaps I wouldn't even had noticed had I not known the age of Adornetto at the time the book was written, but that was always in the back of my mind, and I can only describe the language as flawless and beautiful, and intelligent! Adornetto's intelligence and knowledge of the English language just shines through this novel. The amount of description she goes into is just incredible; you can perfectly picture every person, every room, every view, everything! Her attention to detail is incredible. It's like she had this clear image of everything in her head, and wanted to make sure her readers saw, heard, felt everything she and her characters did. It really was beautiful, and for this alone, I'd say Adornetto is not just an author but an artist.

The story was very intriguing. At it's basics, it's nothing new. Human and angel fall in love, then something comes along to ruin it all. But it goes much deeper. As opposed to a few other angel novels I could name, none of the angels in this book are bad in any way; they haven't fallen, and they're not feeding off of humans. They are here to do God's work. Because of this, there was a fair amount more regarding religion than I was used to. Perhaps that's the wrong way to put it. Other novels use religious stories as a mythical or folklorish bases to inspire their own. Halo mentions some stories, but leans more towards the religious as faith rather than myth. Being angels sent to earth to do God's work, they obviously believe in God, and Heaven, and know all the stories of the Bible to be true. They pray, they ask for assistance and guidance. It doesn't go into the different religions, but it discusses human belief and understanding of the divine. It was very different from what I expected, and bordered close to being preachy, but didn't quite cross the line. You have to expect that of God's angels though, they are here to bring people closer to God. I just hadn't come across it too much before.

There is more to the story than the emphasism on faith, though. The three angels, Ivy, Gabriel (yes, that Gabriel) and Bethany have been sent to earth because the Agents of Dark have been causing havoc in the world. They are sent to Venus Cove, a sleepy little beach town to take under their care. They start of by trying to encourage a love of community and try to bring people round towards the idea of God. Small things at first, community service, voluntary work, fund raisers - though this is mostly the work of Ivy and Gabriel. Being the only on to have never been to earth before, and being the most human, Bethany gets engrossed in the experiences of human life, and of first love. The Agent of Darkness soon makes his appearance, and things start to turn quite sinister, and everyone is in danger. That's one aspect of the book I really did like, how sinister it became. It really became quite spooky towards the end, and I got right into it.

However, the characters don't have too much in the way of personality. Some of Bethany's friends at school could have been the same person, so alike they were. No-one really seemed to have any actual interests that made them individual. You never really get to know any of the characters all that well. When it comes to hobbies, we know Xavier, the love interest in the story, is into sports at school, and Gabriel discovers surfing, but otherwise, I couldn't tell you much about any of the characters but only basic things. This left me feeling detached from the characters, I didn't know them enough, so I didn't get involved in their lives. At the moments when I should have been sitting on the edge of my seat worried for the lives of the characters, I wasn't that bothered what happened to them, simply because I didn't feel anything for them. This is the one major flaw of this book, I just didn't buy into it. Because of this, the love between Bethany and Xavier never felt real to me. There wasn't any sexual tension, hardly any flirting, just complete and utter adoration that seemed to come out of the blue. It just didn't work for me.

I still enjoyed the book. It kept me turning the pages, and I couldn't put it down - thanks to the wonderful way Adorenetto writes and the plot of the story. I have to say the beginning is just perfect, of Bethany's first experiences of life as a human and things we take for granted; texture, sound, taste. I also loved the way she complains about how limited human language is, how thoughts and ideas go unspoken or misunderstood because there just aren't the words to express properly. Halo is also full of literary references showing how widely read Adornetto is, and I have found myself another favourite poem - Annabell Lee by Edgar Allan Poe.

All in all, a pretty enjoyable book and a great story, just lacking in personality. I would still recommend you give it a go, and I will definitely be on the look out for Hades, the sequel which will be released on 6th October 2011.

Thank you to Macmillan US for sending me a review copy.

Published: 20th January 2011 in the UK, 31st August 2010 in the US
Publisher: Atom in the UK, Feiwel and Friends in the US
Alexandra Adornetto's Facebook Page


  1. Great review. While at the time I didn't notice the personality thing, now that I think about it I can understand what you mean :)

  2. Thank you! I just didn't connect with pretty much all of them, unfortunately. Bethany was the closest because she was telling the story, but even then, I still felt a little detached. I still enjoyed it though!

  3. I'm a little sad to hear that it's lacking in personality and a decent love story. Those are vital!

  4. I'm sure the love story would have been better if there was more personality to the characters - I could have understood the attraction. It's still pretty sweet, though, how much they love and do for each other. It just wasn't... wow.

  5. Great review. I've been hesitant to read this one even though it's been sitting on my TBR pile for a little while. I should at least read it before the sequel comes out!

  6. Thank you! It is a pretty good book, but I wouldn't rush to move it up the TBR list. I hope you enjoy it when you read it!