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Review: Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel, the first book in a new series by author Heather Terrell was released as a paperback and an eBook on December 28, 2010 in the U.S. The print edition is 336 pages.

Goodreads description:

The first book in a dark, edgy new angel series about a girl who finds herself forced to choose sides in the battle between fallen angels, even if that means going against the boy she loves.

When Ellie Faneuil first sees Michael Chase she feels an instantaneous connection. But she does not realize how much they have in common, including the ability fly and to see what others are thinking – not to mention a taste for blood. Reveling in their new powers and their growing feelings for each other, Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way … together.
But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict between fallen angels that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.

In this electrifying novel Heather Terrell spins a gripping tale of soul-mates, supernatural powers and a truth that will change Ellie and Michael‘s world forever.

Note: This reviewer thinks the Goodreads description is a tad misleading.

Ellspeth Faneuil dreamt she could fly. At least she thought they were dreams until she met Michael Chase. In a town as small as Tillinghast it was rare for her not to know everybody, but Michael was definitely new. From the first moment that she noticed him at school she sensed he was different.

Even though she felt an instant connection to him, she never thought it was anything but one-sided. He was handsome, charming and athletic. She had always felt awkward and never fit in with the popular girls at school. Coming from a family who believed in giving back, living green and spending summers traveling to foreign countries to assist the poor made Ellie feel even more of an outsider.

When Michael claims to have met her three years before, Ellie has no memory of him. And when he tells her that her dreams are not dreams, but reality and that she can actually fly, she becomes even more distrusting of him. But when she finally comes to believe him it just raises more questions. Why doesn’t she remember him? Do their parents know? What are they?

When a stranger arrives in Tillinghast, someone who claims to have answers, will Ellie and Michael be willing to give him what he’s asking for in order to get them?

***

Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell is a slightly different and unconventional story about angels in the young adult market. While in keeping with the traditional theme of fallen angels left behind on earth – with those trying to return to heaven and those who choose to remain – the author has added the element of bloodlust to the mix.

In their search for answers, as Ellie and Michael try to figure out what they are, they discover that they have a strong pull toward each other’s blood. It is in the blood that they are able to truly see one another.

While the story does have this slightly different twist it lacks some of the depth that other books in this genre offer. There are no points at which the story grabs you and the connection between the two main characters is not strong enough. Michael’s expressions of affection for Ellie lack emotion and don’t feel believable. It is missing that magical element that makes a reader instantly fall in love with the characters and storyline.

The book is marketed toward an audience of ages twelve and up, but much of the writing doesn’t seem to relate to this age group. Using terms that seem old-fashioned or out-dated, such as “throng,” “nefarious tentacles” or “malingerers,” makes the story less relatable. When language geared toward an older audience is used in a way which flows beautifully it can elevate a readers’ vocabulary, but here many of the passages felt clunky and that they were trying too hard.

The book is written from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old main character from a small town, and even though she is to have spent summers in third world countries, her viewpoint would still be that of a teenager. It doesn’t feel realistic that a teenager would be referencing Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings or thinking in phrases such as: He looked at me a bit askance but answered cordially enough.

Further, while much of the story moves slowly, when the conflict finally does arrive it is so quick that it’s over just when you start to feel like you’ve found something to really enjoy. And some events that you would think would have more substance are simply glossed over.

The electronic version of the book includes a peek at the next book in the series, Eternity, which shows promise, and with the fact that the premise of this book was interesting, it may be worthwhile to read Eternity to see where this story leads.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=2]

On a personal note:

I wanted so much to love this book. I found the cover art beautiful and pre-ordered this book quite some time ago and couldn’t wait for its release. The description on Goodreads was captivating and I was excited to find and love another story about angels.

Sadly from the get-go I had problems with this story. I got a bit confused during the prologue – I didn’t realize it was a dream at first – and then ran into some continuity issues at the beginning, but was willing to look past all that. Sometimes books start off a bit awkward but once they get moving all is forgiven. Here, I just felt so disconnected with the story. There was a magic that just didn’t happen between the characters.

The vocabulary used throughout really felt unrealistic for someone of Ellie’s age. Even the name of Ellie’s friend, Ruth, had an old-fashioned feel and the parents constantly referring to her as “dearest” felt misplaced. Having read the author’s bio I see she had written historical fiction, so perhaps she just didn’t quite adjust her style toward YA paranormal novels, but there were many other things that just didn’t ring true in this book.

Also, when writing stories involving vampirism or the drinking of blood, it has to be approached carefully. It can either be written as something terrifying, something that’s an unfortunate necessity or something sensual. Here, for some reason it just came off creepy.

Although I never really developed any emotional connection with the characters, the story picked up at the end, so I do want to give this another chance. I wait to reserve final judgment until I read Eternity.

***

The next book in the series, Eternity (A Fallen Angel novel) is currently available for pre-order and will be released on June 28, 2011.

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