Angel Eyes (Angel Eyes Trilogy #1)Featured
Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . . ANGEL EYES Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake. Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption. Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start. A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.
ANGEL EYES has a lot going for it. The prose is gorgeous. There were sentences I just wanted to wallow in. The characters quickly found a place in my heart. I loved Brielle's brokenness and snarky/funny voice. Jake melted my heart from the moment he stepped onto the page. And the supporting cast all had distinct personalities and purposes within the story as well.
I enjoyed the plot. There's a bit of mystery, there's adventure and scary stakes, and there's a lovely exploration of what it means to accept that God is sovereign and that bad things still happen. I appreciated being able to see behind the spiritual warfare curtain to what was going on in the angel and demon realm.
I really loved reading this book. Every time I put it down, I couldn't wait to get back to it. This is a solid debut from a fresh voice in Christian fiction, and I can't wait to read what Ms. Dittemore writes next.
Brielle, an eighteen year old former ballerina has returned home after being away at a prestigious boarding school for the past few years. She's come back broken and scarred after suffering a recent, tragic loss. All she wants is to fade into the background of her old life but the new guy in town won't allow her to do that. There's something about Jake that draws Brielle to him but she can't quite put her finger on it. He's hot for one, like physically hot, to the touch, and there's the light in his eyes that draws Brielle in every time she looks at him.
The more she gets to know Jake, the more she realizes he could be one to help heal her brokenness and if he can't, he might be able to point her to someone who can. It won't be easy though and Brielle will have to fight if she wants to overcome her pain. She'll also learn that the battle she faces isn't always one easily seen but it's worth it if she wants a way out her old life and into a new one.
Dittemore's prose is beautiful and the different character POV's adds a creative touch. What I found to be difficult and slightly confusing was not only are the POV's switching back and forth but the characters themselves are switching back and forth between the Terrestrial and the Celestial realms (Essentially the physical and spiritual realms) with the bulk of the action taking place in the Celestial realm.
Not all of the characters are human, some are angels and demons nor can all of the humans "see" what's taking place within the Celestial realm. That fact ties into the story but it's also what made it hard to follow along, for me at least. The battles are vividly descriptive but not gory which some readers will appreciate. The romance develops rather fast but is pretty chaste - not a bad thing but I'm not opposed to plenty of kissing when necessary. ;)
It's obvious that Dittemore has a good working knowledge of the Bible and the scriptures within that discuss spiritual warfare and I enjoyed the verses that were scattered throughout the story. I also liked that she chose to have the characters discuss topics such as free will, and the difference between God "making" bad things happen and God "allowing" bad things to happen in order to fill a greater purpose. Showing how the choices we make can reach far beyond just ourselves was a good point to drive home as well.
I do think there are many readers who will enjoy this book and the ones to follow in the trilogy even if I wasn't one of them.
It gave you several hints throughout the book as to 'Ali' and what exactly happened to her, but you don't find out till quite late in the book. One of the biggest questions I had was what was 'Damien' going to do and how Brielle was involved in all this.
It started out like a contemporary novel. After having experienced a traumatic incident involving her best friend Ali, Brielle, moves back to the small town feeling lonely and pained. She meets new kid Jake who is gorgeous, sweet and is interested in her, and he's the only person she feels comfortable around. But then it starts to diverge into the paranormal elements and pick up speed. By building on existing lore and adding plenty of details and fascinating background about the angels, the author succeeded in creating a very believable story.
The writing was maybe slow-paced at times (there was a LOT of crying on Brielle's part) and the plot wasn't exceptional, but the author's writing style was beautiful and the emotions expressed by the characters were very real and some parts were truly moving.
Nevertheless, I am curious to know what happens in Broken Wings (Angel Eyes #2)
As I've said before, Angel Eyes is a very character-focused novel. The author put a lot of time in creating each of the characters' pasts and showing their emotions in a way that the reader can feel too. It was most likely the beautiful characters who kept me fascinated in this book. Ms Dittermore took plenty of time and details to bring the characters and the settings to life. Brielle was a relatable character even with her tormenting past and Jake is just such a sweet guy, you can't help falling for him!
Extra Thoughts that don't Deserve a Separate Category
The romance in this novel just makes you smile. It's kind of cheesy, but overall, Brielle and Jake had a very sweet relationship. They weren't instantly in love or falling all over each other; instead, they were comfortable around each other and were happy just to be around each other. Most importantly, there was no love triange! Hurray!
The alternating POVs let the reader peek into the mind of the antagonist and see what he was planning, which kept me super intrigued.
Since I'm not a religious person, I was left feeling a little uncomfortable by all the God references and thoughts about faith, but I didn't feel like the author's views were pushed on me in any way so that was a relief.
Yay! Pretty cover =D
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.
However, I was pleasantly surprised with Angel Eyes. I liked Brielle and Jake. Brielle asked some hard questions. Jake didn’t always have all the answers. There was a wee bit of insta-love lurking around their relationship, but it’s mostly understandable considering the scenario they are in. I liked that Brielle wasn’t able to just bounce back from her friend’s murder, and that she didn’t just blindly accept everything that Jake told her. She struggled throughout the book, and I appreciated that.
The way Ms. Dittemore writes about her angels and demons, you can tell she put a lot of thought into their realm and how it functions. It was interesting and exciting and mysterious. I definitely kept in mind that this is a work of fiction, so I didn’t really mind if not everything matched up perfectly with what I believe to be true. She’s allowed some artistic license in how she chooses to portray her world, and the spiritual warfare portrayed in Angel Eyes was very compelling.
I did have a few minor complaints with the book. I wasn’t a fan of the perspective changes between Brielle, Canaan, and Damien (one of the demons). Brielle’s perspective was easy to read, natural, and engaging. The other two felt a little forced. I understand that it would have been impossible to completely portray everything that was going on in the Celestial realm without switching from Brielle’s POV, but it just didn’t feel right to me. I’m not sure how it could have been done better; I just know I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way it was. Probably part of the problem was that I just didn’t really connect with any of the Celestial characters. I loved all the human characters, but the supernatural ones fell a little flat to me.
There was a tiny bit of cheese. Just a bit, and not enough to overwhelm the book or take me out of the story. But occasionally, cheese reared its ugly head.
And there was a bit of a Touched By an Angel steamroller moment. If you already believe in God, it probably wouldn’t bother you. It didn’t bother me. But if you don’t, you may find it a bit much. But then again, if you don’t believe in God, you’re already taking a bit of a gamble in reading Christian Fiction. Only you can know your own tolerance level for that sort of thing.
I’d categorize Angel Eyes as kind of a cross between the books of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker, but for the YA audience. It has likable characters, an intriguing story, beautiful descriptions, and a powerful spiritual message. Ms. Dittemore sets up the ending for a sequel, although the story from this book is wrapped up nicely, and I’ll be very interested to see what happens to Brielle and Jake.