18 March 2011

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Angel books, why do I keep reading you even though I'm usually disappointed? Perhaps one of these days I will learn my lesson. Books like Angelfire make it hard to learn, though. There was a lot to like in this book. The plot and idea were fresh and new, and I was excited to see how the mythology was woven into the book in exciting ways. I liked the strong female fighter angle, although it did seem like she was still weaker than Will and Nathaniel, but that can be excused away by the fact that she's not fully aware yet of who she is and how to work what she's got. It's also not like she had much training prior to starting to fight monsters. Will and Nathaniel both seem like rounded characters, and although Will comes off a little Edward-esque his angles and issues are fresh and more rounded and modern and I like him for them. The relationship between Ellie and Will was the best aspect of this book. It was understandable, age-appropriate, and felt very realistic to me. I thought that the Logan-love-triangle was weak, but I don't think I would have wanted him in any more of the book, so I count that as a good aspect as well.

On the other hand, although I liked the plot and Will the human characterization felt off to me. Ellie reads as ageless even before she is *awakened*. Yet she also reads as reckless. Perhaps this is a result of the author trying to interweave Ellie's young age with her immortality, but it just didn't work for me. I also didn't get the point of Ellie's father being characterized as an abuser. It really seemed like a plot point in the making, but it ended up going nowhere. I did like Ellie's mother, although in the last chapter of the book she seemed rather preachy. Then again, she had a lot to be preachy about, which is my main problem with this book. Ellie does a lot of things that are, in my opinion, wrong. She lies. She drinks. She runs away to other countries without telling her parents. And yet there's really no consequences for any of these actions. I'd expect the author to at least address that drinking would slow a fighter's reaction time, but although Ellie is portrayed as plastered in the scene she still manages to fight unhindered. I found these things both unrealistic and disturbing, especially considering the big reveal at the end and what Ellie really is. However, even if Ellie was completely human I wouldn't approve, either. I didn't like Kate and her issues with these either. However I'm not sure that issue is enough that I'd not recommend this book to an adult or a mature teen. If there are more books in the series I will be sure to get them.

I was provided with a free copy of this book through NetGalley, but I also went out and purchased a hard copy for my library.

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