Series: Angelfire #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 15th 2011
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
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First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.
Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.
Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.
I’ve thought long and hard to determine if there was a single aspect of this book that I even liked.
The characters, the story-telling, the writing, the themes… was there anything?
No. I tried but this book was painfully bad. I am not at all exaggerating when I report that I fell asleep twice within the first twenty pages. This book was highly reminiscent of both Buffy and Bleach. So what? Pretty much half the things published in YA these days are reminiscent of Buffy. Unfortunately, you want to at least stand up a little in the comparison. This is not comparable to Buffy. This is Buffy if Buffy weren’t Buffy but Dawn was Buffy.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that there is nothing wrong with writing a realistic teenager. Ellie was certainly realistic – for a certain type of teenager. She was vapid, shallow, thoughtless, completely stuck in her own world and helplessly self-centered. This is a problem for two reasons.
1. Nobody takes issue with this. Will mentions twice that she doesn’t take her duties seriously enough but this is laughed off and treated by the text as if he takes them way too seriously.
2. The fucking world relies on her and her alone.
Look, I don’t want to be nitpicky, but this girl has our lives in her hands. What I want to know is, is there a way that can…not be the case?
She’s so boring, and the novel becomes boring because of how boring she is. This is supposed to be a book about an immortal warrior girl who fights Reapers to save humanity. It ends up being Gossip Girl with the occasional monster. What continually amazes me is that Ellie even has friends – because she has all of the wit and charm of a mouldy mop. Yet Requisite Bestfriend and Requisite Friendzone Freddie just hang off every word she says.
We have Will who is one of those annoying, brooding male romantic interests. There’s not much to say about him because he’s like ALL brooding male romantic interests.
They could have overcome the insurmountable obstacles to their love and found a way to be together but he was too busy brooding and she was too busy shopping. Also the world ended along the way.
The writing is boring and the plot is painfully slow. The plot is barely there and Moulton completely fails to marry the overtly long and complicated world building with any kind of reasonable story arc. The only method she knows of conveying information is in massive info dump conversations. After you finish wading through meaningless, vapid social interaction after meaningless, vapid social interaction you discover that the few fight scenes there are in this book are painfully short and boring. How am I supposed to care about the end of the world and the possibility of a Reaper consuming my soul and condemning me to an eternity in hell when all Ellie fucking cares about is her parties and social standing? Oh, I’m sorry. She also cares about Mr Tall, dark, mysterious and broody. They spend a lot of time talking. A. Lot. of. time.
It’s not like I expected her to go from 0-kickass in five seconds. But Ellie never at any point in this novel has a real revelation about the fact that she’s got a divine fucking mission here. And it’s not to attend parties. Think about it. Every time she’s going to the movies with friends or coffee, or a party, someone is out there dying. And not just dying. Their soul is going to burn in hell and suffer eternal torment and be used in Lucifer’s fight to condemn ALL the souls. Every time Ellie decides to take a break and not be so serious about her duties, which she does with alarming frequency – a child, a woman, a man, SOMEONE will suffer forever for it. Every time she needs to investigate something or train and she says, “Oh, I’m busy at the movies tonight, can we do that in two days time?” she’s personally letting people down.
The horror she experiences every time she faces off against one of the Reapers (the horror for which we are meant to sympathize as one of her struggles) yeah… well, she has both Will and a couple of kick arse swords when she faces off against them. Think of the children who have had to face that horror on their own and have not survived.
I have no sympathy or emotional investment in her at all. Sure, she doesn’t have her memories, but even in flashbacks she is completely disingenuous as an immortal warrior fighting for humanity. When Buffy got her mission, she woke up fairly quickly and realized that her hopes and dreams and free time was all completely inconsequential compared to her mission. Ellie did not have that realization in this entire novel. Everything took a backseat to her social life and school calendar. Everything. And this was not perceived to be a problem. Not even by the narration which gives far more time and invests far more heavily in Ellie’s star-crossed lovelife than it does in the fact that there is an apocalypse coming.
There is something supremely wrong about that.