Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore
Ridiculously simplified summary: Book 2 in a series. Newly-graduated teen Brielle's world is falling apart, when her father takes up with a much younger woman and starts drinking again. Her sleep is plagued by nightmares, despite her protective halo. Her boyfriend Jake starts to doubt God's will, when it seems like He no longer plans for him to wed Brielle. And demon Damien, refreshed and restored after his stay in hell, has a plan for Jake and Brielle...
Content: Less violence than Angel Eyes (review here). The book did come at a good time to reinforce to me that yes, there are unseen battles. And I realize now that I didn't appreciate Angel Eyes quite as much as I should have for the new eyes it started to give me.
But on the other hand, Dittemore adds quite a bit of speculation to the angel world she's set up, which I spoke about at some length yesterday. In addition to those issues, there are also some new groups of angels and demons that aren't in the Bible (Sabres--angels with bladed wings--for the good guys, and the Palatine for the demons). Cherubs look like eight-year-olds, evidently, and female angels are now typical instead of just an option, with 2 of the 4 main angels portrayed--and the two we get closest to, I think--being females. I don't think any of those are necessarily anti-Biblical, but added to the speculation in Angel Eyes, I feel like we're getting to the edge of a fine line.
That said, I don't normally read angel books, but this book is FAR more accurate than the few I have read.
I'm not sure how easy it would be to follow this if you haven't read the first book, but my gut says it would be extremely difficult. Frankly, I'd expected at least the "epilogue" of sorts in Angel Eyes to be recapped here, but there was nothing. This reviewer (non-CSFF) did not read the first book and was very confused throughout the second.
Compelling: 5 out of 10. I thought this one started out even slower than Angel Eyes, which at least had a mystery to carry it along. It was midway through before things picked up for me. Even then, I didn't understand the characters' reactions to certain elements, such as when Brielle finds out the big secret her father's been keeping. The last 75 pages or so start to fly--things get a bit muddled to me (a big battle ends when the players vanish). I was wondering how the story could start to be resolved before the end (spoiler alert! it's not, really).
Characters: 4 out of 10. I felt like Brielle lost quite a bit of personality. Her number obsession has become rather minor, her photography unmentioned, and yet she still strikes me as distanced from the situations she sees. Jake starts out the book in public in an orange tutu, which I personally found kind of creepy, and he hasn't used his gift in 7 months...he just felt kind of flat and strange to me. Canaan is a very minor character, with two female characters taking the forefront as far as angels go. Damien got more interesting. I even found dear Kaylee obnoxious in the beginning, with her "copious" use of "air quotes". But by the end of the book I thought she was easily the best character this time around.
Writing/editing: 7 out of 10. The distance in Brielle's style bothered me less this time, but Jake's third-person bits felt odd to me and occasional parts in his point of view felt to me like Brielle was talking...not like how I remembered his bit at the end of Angel Eyes. The writing wasn't bad (though I did get a touch lost in some of the happenings at the end, probably because I was hoping against hope for a resolution that didn't come). There were some interesting speculative spiritual thoughts, like this one from an angel's point of view (though CSFF blogger Shane Werlinger already posted it):
Pearla nods and dives after the Shield, her mind sorting through this new assignment. It's the greatest expression of love, she knows, to lay one's life down. But she wonders if humans know just how unique the ability is to do that.Death is not something an angel has to offer her loved ones. How glorious it must be to have one's days numbered by the Father.But I felt like it had very few of the sparkling witty asides that added so much to Angel Eyes.
How precious it makes each and every one.
Plausibility/believability: 3 out of 5 and Positive: 2 out of 5. I know, it's weird to combine these, but I think it's fair here.
Regarding the new classes of angels...I guess they were plausible in that I actually looked up Sabres to make sure I hadn't just missed them in the Bible. (I know "Shield" from Angel Eyes is not a class of angel either, but I do believe angels guard over human affairs--if not on a one-on-one basis--so it seemed a reasonable class to me....naming a class of angel that is that that physically close to God, seemed odd to me.)
The theme is that God's plans do all work to good, no matter if they make sense to us or not. My problem is that one main character ends the book resolved that God's plans work to good, but as a reader, I have no idea why things would have happened the way they did for Brielle's mother. If someone I loved and trusted told me, dead serious, that's what happened in their real life, I'd have faith. But fiction has to be more plausible than reality, and I didn't personally buy it here.
Oh, and I was also astounded that a small town still had a photo shop that had numerous employees and could process film, but maybe I'm wrong there.
Gut reaction: 2 out of 5. Actually, the same basic complaints I had with Angel Eyes here. The book ends completely unresolved (though in fairness, I know that's the norm for book 2 in a trilogy, and unlike Angel Eyes, there was no easy way the author could have wrapped it up by ending the book a few pages earlier--or later).
And like Angel Eyes, the bad guys (demons in this case) evidently have dark skin. The cherub has "(b)lack skin, black hair knotted at her neck, bright brown eyes." The next page, she notes that she can slip in among the demons undetected, as "I'm created for such purposes. Darkness was given to me as a gift, and the Fallen often mistake me for one of their own."
Don't get me wrong. Pearla the cherub was likeable. But am I crazy to get just a little queasy at the fact that, aside from her eyes, the one angel with dark skin looks just like a demon?
Bonus points: 5 out of 5.
Recommended for: People who loved Angel Eyes and who can discern reality from fiction.
Total Rating: 2.8 out of 5 stars
Here are the other tour participants!
Emma or Audrey Engel
Karielle @ Books à la Mode
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book.