Format: Kindle ARC
Reviewed by: Onnica
Final score: 5/10
It’s no secret that from time to time I just love, love, love to dive into a good paranormal YA book. Done well it can be so much fun – there’s the folklore, the romance and the coming of age of the heroine that makes her rise to her destiny and come into her own. So I was pretty excited about this book when I saw it on Netgalley and when the author made contact on Goodreads.
Plot: (taken from the book’s blurb) When Sophia St. James learns that she’ll be moving from Los Angeles to a podunk town somewhere in Connecticut for her senior year of high school, she isn’t expecting an otherworldly encounter. But there is more to Haven Hurst than meets the eye: it’s home to a family of Guardian Angels, and she is the only one who can see them in spirit form. Sophia soon realizes she wants to see much more of Michael, an irresistible yet volatile Guardian who seems drawn to her too.
As Michael battles his forbidden desire for the beautiful young newcomer, one of Hell’s most notorious Demon Knights arrives. Handsome and charismatic, Dante has come to claim the reincarnated soul of his lost lover trapped in Sophia. Cursed with the demon of Persuasion living inside him, Dante will use his seductive charms to lure Sophia into a dangerous game that ends with the kiss of death—unless Michael, who has captured Sophia’s heart, can now capture her soul.
Review: So although I love a bit of fantasy, usually that love doesn’t extend to angels/demons. It’s just a bridge too far and not even I can suspend my disbelief to that extent. Forbidden made me believe the realm of heavenly bodies and demons – that was not the problem. Ok, so what was the problem I hear you ask? First of all, it was the action – or rather, the inaction. A large portion of the book is Sophia and Michael engaging in terse conversations, sharing heated and hateful looks and then…nothing. One of the main ingredients in a fantasy book (in my humble opinion) should be action and the plot needs to move along at a steady pace. If there’s conflict between the hero and heroine then there need to be sparks and the heat should leap off the page at you. It started well, I was fully engaged then it flatlined until approximately 70% of the way through the book. Then suddenly I started getting answers and finally there was some action!
My second problem was that the plot chopped and changed, certain passages weren’t described well enough to evoke exactly what was going on – which led to me getting frustrated. The dialogue of Sophia’s friends (who I’m guessing were supposed to be latino?) was really over the top and made very little sense to me. Sophia was a typical teenage character and her tendency to whine and pick arguments at the wrong time did alienate me from her at times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with this book. Its stilted pace and dialogue wasn’t enough to draw me in, nor was the character development. Ironically however, there was enough action towards the end of the book to make me curious about book two, Awaken. So for these reasons I’m giving it 5/10.
Review based on the following:
How much I liked the heroine: 5 – I didn’t really. Sophia has settled with her father in a smalltown following the death of her mother. She’s worried about her dad who seems to have checked out of life completely and she’s nursing her own scars from an ex-boyfriend with anger management issues. I know she was a high school student who has been through stuff, but she was immature, judgemental and lacked grit. I need a fantasy heroine to grab life by the balls and get on with it rather than whine!
How much I liked the love interest: 6 – it was sweet once they started speaking to each other. A little Twilighty in places and unfortunately their ‘sparring’ did not work for me. But, I think their relationship will be better in Awaken.
How believable was the plot: 5 – Ok, not really relevant here, as we’re talking demons and angels, but in more experienced hands I doubt I’d have had such a hard time believing the story and caring about the characters.
How much I liked the writing style/editing etc: 5 – As mentioned above, I had real problems with the dialogue and the fact that some chapters made very little sense. I stuck with it, but it was really hard work. I’ve never written a book, so I don’t want to criticise too much, but it was a struggle to persevere.
Final score: 5/10 – an interesting premise, if the subsequent books drive the plot forward and develop the characters, then it will be a good series. Sadly, I won’t be pursuing it.