Halo by Alexandra Adornetto has to be one of my favourite books of this year. Adornetto is only 18 yet she writes with so much passion and care that you wouldn't believe it! Also another great positive Halo is over 400 pages long - no more paying £7 for a book that takes you a couple of hours to read instead Halo, both in quantity and quality, takes a good time to read. Adornetto develops each of the characters so well that over the course of the book you have grown attached to them and can understand why they're saying or doing something.
Yeah okay, the storyline isn't too original - angels coming to earth to battle darkness- but it's been a while since I've read a YA novel where I've come to really care for the characters and have wanted to read the next book in the series to find out what they get up to - not just what the rest of the story is - It's hard to explain but Adornetto's novel is not just a good story, it creates a real place where you can really see the people and can feel like you really know them.
*TAD bit of SPOILER*
The first half of the book concentrates on Bethany, an angel, her two (angel) siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, as they integrate themselves into Venus Cove beginning to re-establish belief and trust in the community. Through school Bethany meets Xavier, a sweet slightly messed up boy, who has lost interest in girls until he meets Beth. I would identify these 4 as the main characters in the first half of the book but Molly, Bethany's friend, is also well developed though I didn't pay too much attention to her as I was too hung up on Beth and Xav. The story then introduces Jake Thorn to the mix, obviously a baddie, and from then on the speed picks up. I felt a little disorientated by the quick pace of the story from then on - having enjoyed the slow establishment of the storyline in the first half the second half felt a little rushed and action-packed... However this could just be because I enjoy lots of detail and love the part when the characters are just leading relatively normal lifes with minor funny interruptions but then I suppose it wouldn't be a story just more of a depiction of a celestial beings life on Earth!
Bethany is sweet, good and kind (also very naive - the sex discussion with Molly is rather hilarious) It might sound sickly but she really is an angel.... I'm not an extremely religous person but the way Adornetto writes the book presents God and religion in a brilliant way which makes you realise it's not all about church etc. The angel/religion aspect also does not intrude on the book at all so if you're adverse to religion don't worry it wouldn't upset/annoy you. You can't help resenting her for her luck with Xav and her beauty etc but she is a really good person! Darn her! Adornetto develops her well and you can relate to her feelings, things that would sound cheesy from a different character sound right from Beth and the reader really begins to care what happens to her.
The warrior - Gabriel is one of the archangels and is extremely dedicated to his task set to him as God. He loves humans in a condescending kind of way - he is there to protect them but not associate with them, however as the book goes on he relaxes a little and goes on to warm (a little) to Xav. Gabriel is the epitome of an angel and provides the needed bit of a adult presence to make the book seem authentic. (He's not going to let Beth party all night or forget her 'divine' task ....... like she would!)
Ivy is a healer - and one of the seraphim (those closest to God) - she spends her time defusing any tensions which arise (often between Gabriel and Bethany!) Ivy is amazingly elegant, eloquent and empathetic. She spends her time trying to restore trust and belief in the community - being a bit of an eco-warrior! She can't begin to understand Bethany's feelings for Xavier but she does her best to support Beth even though she thinks she's gone a bit mad!
When Xav lost his best friend/girl friend in a fire he distanced himself from girls - sure he's friendly and all but he wouldn't go there. Of course not till Bethany comes along. Possibly my favourite part of the book is when Xavier starts to fall for Beth and tries to get her to talk to him but she avoids him for fear of breaking the rules of God. Xavier is a true hero - kind, smart and funny - although he seems to good to be true you can imagine him standing in front of you! He is a great character to follow and Adornetto gives him some small quirks and flaws - his insistence to protect Bethany - her and me both find it a little annoying but understand his reasons and secretly love him for it! One of my favourite quotes from the book is when Xavier replies to Bethany who has said there's nothing interesting about her (LIAR!) " I disagree. Even your reaction to being called interesting is interesting". I mean, c'mon girls, who wouldn't want a boy to believe in you that much!
All in all Halo is a brilliant book, it's definitely one that I'd go back to on a cold day, and I need to get the other two in the trilogy. I think Alexandra Adornetto has done a brilliant job on this book and I have really enjoyed reading a fantasy book that wasn't too fantasy (I mean I know angels are imaginative but the way the book is written you can quite believe they are real).
So Halo gets a strong 4 out of 5.
It's published by Little Brown under the imprint of Atom and you can get it from Amazon for £5.27
Good Reading (I suggest you put it on your Christmas list fast!)