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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Rayna has been seeing angels since her mothers death. Believing the visions are hallucinations, she is quickly shipped off the the mental hospital to get better. Now, she has been released with a clean bill of health (provided she take her meds) and is now starting high school. The problem? She has quit her meds and is now seeing angel wings attached to the new kid at school. Then a kid at school commits suicide and Ray's life changes. The angels are not only real, but dark ones are responsible for the suicides. The angels need Rayna's help to save her classmates, but is she up to the task?
Ray was a character I was on the fence about. I loved the fact that she thought she was crazy. It's the natural response when you start seeing things that aren't supposed to be real, but it's one we don't see in YA much. Most YA heroine's just accept that the things are real with little to no convincing. My problem initially started when I learned she was off her meds. You are finally at a point that you have stopped "hallucinating" and you just decide it's not worth it anymore? We don't get much of a reason she stops the meds beyond the normal "bad side-effects" excuse. This always bugs me and it's a decision I can't understand. The meds are meant to help you and you are just giving up on that help. I get that for the plot of this novel to move forward, she has to be able to see the wings and discover that angels are real, but it was a flimsy reason for me. I know all medicine has side effects. My husband is bipolar, so trust me, I get it. But either you want to get better or you don't and I have a hard time relating to a character that throws away her chance for better.
The males, Cam and Kade, are nothing new or excited. The same basic points in a normal YA love triangle. Cam is the good guy, the angel, and Kade is the supposed bad guy, the fallen angel, but who isn't all that bad. These two were the start of another problem. I hate love triangles. I was pleasantly surprised when Ray's male BFF, Lee, doesn't make a play for Ray. I breathed a sigh of relief to avoid that particular cliche because I hate to see the nice friend character lose, but it's not here. That avoided, I was sure the love triangle element would be avoided, but no such luck. Not long after Cam enters the picture, Kade shows up. Kade, by the way, is clearly the better choice. Cam is righteous and silent and just blah. I wasn't a fan. Whereas Kade actually helps Ray when she needs him and pushes her to stay safe instead of pushing her to help with a cause that will obviously put her in danger.
The writing was decent enough, but the plot was wholly predictable. It starts off pretty interesting. The premise of the novel, with a "crazy" heroine was pretty attractive when I requested it and it starts off on that angle, with Ray fighting for sanity and completely believing she is crazy. Angels aren't real. People don't have wings. It's just a hallucination brought on by the stress of her mom's death and she needs to stay away from stressful situations (and stay on her meds!). I felt like that was a believable storyline, the type that would really happen if I started seeing blindingly bright wings attached to people that no one else could see. We get a crazy heroine, a spunky best friend, and the normal family drama that would go with the crazy. Great start, really, it was difficult to put down for the first 50 or so pages. And then it was like Basso forgot was she was doing. From that point on, it's all the typical YA stereotypes shoved into one. We get the love triangle, the bad boy vs good boy, the "unexplanable" connection, the heroine's need to sacrifice herself to save her friends/family, and several more wrapped into one. It felt like Twilight and Fallen had mashed together to create a new and boring tale. I don't even understand how Ray manages to fall for Cam. He's there a good bit in the beginning, but I didn't feel them connect at all, whereas I could definitely feel the tension between her and Kade.
With this book I feel like the author set out to write a new and different YA angel novel and then either forgot that was her goal or became self-conscious about the ability of the idea to succeed. I feel like it was trying too hard to give people what they wanted as opposed to following where the characters lead. It has great potential, but there was just no follow through. It could have been epic and different and new, but instead feel prey to the same tired YA troupes we see constantly. I think people who loved Fallen or other basic angel stories will love it, but if you are looking for something different, this definitely isn't it.
****Thank you to Month9Books LLC for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****