Rummanah Aasi
  I have seen the cover of Halo by Alexandria Aornetto pop up everywhere from blogs to the bookstores to the rental sections of the library. It's undeniable that the book has a gorgeous cover and I usually don't really care for covers unless they are hideous (let me tell you there are some really, really bad ones out there). Halo has been one of the books that have been hyped this year, mainly I think, due to the author's age.  She is only 18 years old. This is her first book published in the U.S., but technically her fourth novel. Another thing going for Halo is that it is a supernatural romance (in case you missed the blatant clue in the title) and it has a pretty neat book trailer:

Description: Three angels, Gabriel, Ivy, and Bethany, are sent from Heaven to protect a small town of Venus Cove from the gathering of dark forces (i.e. crime, poverty, war, etc). Out of the angels, Bethany is most human and falls in love with a mortal. Now with their mission jeopardized and darkness is threatening the peace of Venus Cove, will the angels succeed and what will happen to Bethany since broke the angel's cardinal rule: don't get attached to humans? 

Review: I admit that I approached Halo with lots of trepidation. Lately, I have struck out with fallen angel romances with beautiful covers (i.e. Hush, Hush, Fallen, and Torment). I had hoped that Halo would break this bad streak of books, but unfortunately I can add it to the pile of disappointments. I guess I should known when I arched my eyebrows (both of them since I still can't figure out how to do just one. So frustrating!) at the epigraphs that featured a famous sonnet taken from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet along side a lyric from Beyonce's hit song "Halo", but I didn't want to be too presumptuous.
  Halo had a lot of promise, but it was poorly executed. For once we are given an opportunity to read a story from the supernatural creature's point of view instead of the mortal, which is refreshing to read since many are written from the mortal's point of view. I thought the premise of three angels taking on the forms of humans and trying to be inconspicuous to be intriguing. I enjoyed reading about humanity from their point of views. It was cool to be on the outside and looking in on what is happening in the small town where this story takes place. I must say that Adornetto does have a knack of telling a story, which is the only reason why I continued to read the book even though I could have easily set it aside and have forgotten about it.
  I have three major gripes about this book that prevented me from enjoying this book. My first gripe is the lack of depth of the characters. Bethany is the narrator of our story. She is endearing and one that I'm sure many people will like, but I found her to be a bit hollow and inconsistent. For example: When getting dressed for school, Bethany describes her school wardrobe as a shirt with a Peter Pan collar, but she has absolutely no clue what a dog is or a seat belt. She also makes a comment early on in the book about observing humans from Heaven yet she is unable to communicate to other teenagers at school. At first I thought Bethany's naivete about life on Earth was amusing and cute, but it got really old as the story progressed. While she makes acute observations on how humans interact with one another, she finds herself tongue-tied and completely obsessed by Xavier, who is literally the first good looking boy she sees. Huh?
  Xavier, like the book in general, had the potential to be interesting. We are briefly told about his dark past, which I wished the author took a bit more advantage of and developed a bit more to give depth to his flat character. Xavier is probably the most boring love interest that I have ever encountered in YA lit so far and I've read quite a bit. As his namesake suggests, he is saint-like and dull. You probably noticed from my other reviews, that I like a hero who is flawed. The more flawed, the better. Shades of gray are always great to analyze. After all, isn't that what makes us human and appealing? Xavier is the complete opposite. He can do no wrong. He gets great grades, excels at numerous school sports teams, is the captain of the school, and apparently has no sexual desires. Sorry, but what 16 yr old boy is not partially driven by his hormones? Besides knowing he has floppy, nutmeg hair and his sapphire blue eyes that we're repeatedly told at least 200 times in the first hundred pages by Bethany, we really don't know much more about him.
  As for Bethany's siblings, Gabriel (yep, the Archangel) is remotely interesting in his indifference with humanity. He knows he's on Earth for a mission and a mission only, which I can understand and even admire. He peaked my curiosity, but isn't given much time besides being eye candy for Bethany's lusting, hormone driven, one dimensional friends. Ivy is a sweet, maternal character that reminded me a lot of Esme from the Twilight Saga. I had hoped that the town of Venus Cove would be a character too, but unfortunately the town is uneventful and I kept wondering, "This is the place where you send not one but three angels? Where's this darkness I keep reading about?", which leads me to my second gripe.
   Halo is huge and barely under 500 pages. Nothing happens besides Bethany and Xavier's romance, which at first was cute then transformed to patronizing and nauseating. It is not until we reach page 300 where things start happening and the villain who surprise! no one notices even though he has a huge neon sign that blinks "Yes, I am evil!". I kept waiting for the alarms to sound off in the characters' heads and constantly wanted to scream: "He's evil, you idoit!". The book gets a bit repetitive and verbose. It could have easily be shorted to at least 300 pages.
  My third gripe is one of my top literary pet peeves: bringing up some detail over and over again, which leads me to think that it is important but apparently has no significance to the story whatsoever. I have counted several times on how Bethany is so human-like. I thought the author is hinting at her patronage. I had her pegged as being a Nephilim, a child of human and angel blood, but nothing is brought up against or supporting this theory. Likewise, I have also counted up numerous times where Xavier is mentioned to wear a leather item on his body, but again there is no discussion of this. I hate when I'm given false clues and am left with giving myself a headache in thinking, "That has to have some importance to the story. Otherwise, why would the author bring it up so many times?" 
  As you can tell, I didn't care for Halo. I didn't hate it nor did I love it. Ardonetto does have some talent as a writer, but I think the more she writes and matures, the better her books will be. Halo kept me entertained enough to read it during lunch breaks at work, but that's about it. It is easily forgettable and I wouldn't hurry to recommend this book to anyone.
  I wanted to warn you that Halo does have strong Catholic overtones in the book, which has turned some readers off, but it didn't bother me. I'm sure the book will find its audience, but I'm just not one of them. Halo is a planned trilogy and the second book Hades comes out Fall 2011, but I think I'll pass. I didn't care really care for the characters or the story arc. I'm starting to think books about angels aren't for me, which makes me worried because I plan on reading two more for next year. I hope I'm wrong, but I guess we'll wait and see.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and a small scene of underage drinking at a party. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Hades (Halo #2) due out Fall 2011, Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick or the Fallen series by Lauren Kate
5 Responses
  1. Daisy Says:

    Your issues with this book are similar to mine, I was really disappointed. I also thought it was weird that Xavier didn't seem to have a sexual bone in his body and I like a hero to be a bit flawed as well. This lovestory had the potential to be really interesting, but it fell flat in my opinion.
    I laughed at your 'evil' blinker :)
    Great review!

  2. Thanks, Daisy! I'm glad that I wasn't the only who was disappointed with the book.

  3. Jenny Says:

    Too bad on this one, I really really wanted to like it but have read many of the same reactions you had - it has promise but is poorly executed. I need characters with depth, without them, I have trouble connecting to the story as a whole. I think I'll have to pass on this one, thanks for your honesty Rummanah!

  4. Jenny: Me too, which is why I was so disappointed. I kept hoping it would change but it just got worse as the story went on.

  5. I agree: the characters didn't have much depth. What really annoyed me about the book was that it had so much potential!
    I actually did yell a little at Bethany about the whole 'evil-blinker'. It was painfully obvious.
    Brilliant review - very honest.

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