Review Detail

3.2 3
Young Adult Fiction 3122
If You Like Christian Fiction, Yay; If Not, This is a No.
Overall rating
 
2.7
Plot
 
2.0
Characters
 
2.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Yet again, I must preface this review by saying that I myself am not religious. I'm an agnostic that doesn't have any religious background. I've had a lot of really close friends who are very religious, but I still have trouble with Christian fiction, which is mostly tied in to my hatred for proselytizing. Religious views can be conveyed subtly in novels, but usually it feels like I'm being whopped over the head with the Godly gavel, which leaves a rather nasty headache.

I've read a couple of other Thomas Nelson titles recently, Halflings and Swipe, and neither was too religious for me, even though Halflings was also about angels. Angel Eyes, though, definitely pushed a little too hard. I actually really liked the book until about halfway through, and then it perpetually made me roll my eyes more and more as the religious elements became steadily more heavy-fisted.

I'm going to start with the good stuff. First off, the writing is excellent. Told from Brielle's perspective, I can feel her pain. At the opening, she is broken, unable to cope with her friend Ali's murder, and the fact that she could possibly have prevented it. The writing conveys her brokenness and you can feel how cut off from others she is. You can also feel her warming up, literally, and recovering as she meets Jake.

The darkness of the story, not the sugary lightness of the usual inspirational fiction, was definitely a big plus. Dittemore tackles the big issues of death, grief, and why God would allow good people to die. Unfortunately, there's just not really any new ground or new answers she can, or at least does, provide to those issues. Still, I liked that she at least tried.

What I didn't like was the way the religion worked in the book. Brielle is not a believer at the start, because of her mother's and friend's deaths. Then she meets Jake, who stalks her (this only freaks her out for like five seconds) and he heals a broken bone for her. After that, he promises to tell her everything, but has to go on a trip with his dad, Canaan, so he leaves her a gold 'cuff,' which the girl does not recognize as a halo. Really?

My issues are twofold. Brielle doesn't have a choice but to believe. When she puts the halo on, she sees the celestial realm. She now knows angels on a first name basis. A big part of Christian faith, as I understand it, and this is even mentioned in the book, is based on faith without proof, but she gets to have proof. That's not fair! Her choice to be a non-believer has been taken away from her. And yet other people aren't told. If faith is the key to Heaven, and some people are shown the truth and others are left to believe in something they see no evidence of, that's a rigged system. Does He really want particular people to fail and some to go to Heaven?

This book also suffers from another problem I see in a lot of Christian fiction, namely that God and his forces do everything. Brielle, and even Jake, are mostly useless as far as the confrontations with evil go. For all that God isn't supposed to intervene to protect people, his angels sure do all of the defensive work. This is inconsistent and also makes me wonder why we're even following these teens, when they're clearly just being lead around by God's plan. The book says there's a choice, but there's not.

If I enjoyed Christian fiction, I think I would have liked this. If you agree with the view point being conveyed here, then you'll probably enjoy it, as the novel is well-written. I would have liked to see more of the heroine (particularly, why have her be a ballerina if she only dances once for like two pages?) and I'd like to see her more empowered. I will not be reading the second book, but I do recommend this book to people who aren't turned off by God as a character.
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