Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 91
Breaking Stereotypes and Expectations
Overall rating
Writing Style
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What worked:
Mal is an archangel living in Hell and it’s assumed he’ll lead his squadron just like his parents. Mal’s not sure that’s the future he wants. Featuring fallen angels as the main characters is not something you see all the time, but these characters are fated to be Hell’s guardians, keeping evil souls from escaping. Mal and two friends find themselves pushed through a barrier onto Earth and immediately realize they no longer have their large, black wings. Mal’s brain still thinks like a Power but he finds himself in the unfamiliar world of the living and readers will be amused as he tries to adapt. He can see humans’ auras and knows if they’re headed toward heaven or hell, or if their eternities are uncertain. Unfortunately, Mal, Lilith, and Crowley have released an evil soul that is determined to upset the balance of good and evil.
Hell is much like Earth, except for orange skies, fiery fences, and eternal damnation. Mal lives in a neighborhood, enjoys his break from school, and revels in playing video games with his friends. Most of the plot happens in the human world but it still shares issues related to the supernatural. One of Mal’s biggest fears is that he’ll end up stuck in heaven for all of eternity and the angel who keeps popping up to deliver him there only adds to his worries. Imps, brownies, and daemons also pop up but they’re not a big factor in the plot. Inhabitants of Hell are stereotyped by everyone else
The story blends real social issues with the exciting adventure of Hell’s guardians trying to capture an escaped soul. The misconceptions of stereotypes are a big factor in the books as the humans, the angel, and the Powers all have assumptions of the others based on what they’ve been told. Mal is upset by the expectation of becoming an archangel leader like his parents and he feels adults make all the important decisions in his life. Young readers will relate to wanting some control over what happens to them and the frustration when parents micromanage. Mal also struggles to share his feelings with his friends as he doesn’t want to disappoint them or let them down. Finally, Mal has conflicting thoughts about his sexuality. Early on, he’s infatuated with Lilith and gets red-faced and tongue-tied when he happens to touch her. However, these thoughts become muddled when another character enters the story.
What didn’t work as well:
It would be nice if Mal and his friends retained more of their Hellish abilities on Earth. Crowley is able to wield magic and his weakened power is the only one having a major impact on the story. I know making the kids more like humans adds to their difficulties and conflicts so it’s not a big deal.
The Final Verdict:
The closeness of Mal and his friends offers friendly banter and tender moments as their adventure on Earth ensues. A time limit adds to the suspense as three possible outcomes count down, two of them being very bad. Young readers will enjoy the twists and surprises in the plot and I recommend you give this book a shot.
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