Monday, July 18, 2011

Feel that Heavenly fire...

Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly:

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil.

In the first book in an action-packed romantic trilogy, L. A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill ride of a road trip — and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

Summary from GoodReads.

While reading Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly, I was struck by how easily this could have transitioned to the adult Urban Fantasy market. Despite being teens, both main characters act older due to the situations they’ve experienced. It would be easy to just age the main characters up a few years and let them follow through on certain actions, and voila! This book could go live in a second section at the bookstore.  Really, I mean it. The characters – one of whom is a trained killer – experience end of the world making events and make decisions in accordance with these situations. While Willow certainly reads younger than Alex, one could argue that it’s due to her lack of life outside her small town, not age. The resulting story manages to overcome a few faltering steps to tell a compelling adventure.

Here’s the deal: Willow is one of those girls. You know, the ones that wear funky retro clothes and work on cars. She’s an outsider, who makes herself even more of one by acting as the living, breathing Oracle of Pawtucket , NY. Sure, her classmates value her ability to divine what college will accept their middling grade point average, but they are just not that excited to invite her to the next beer bash. The exception to this is her one and only friend Nina who accepts Willow for who she is because she doesn’t believe in all that fortune telling nonsense.

Obviously this makes it a little hard for Willow to share the burden of the darker futures she foresees. With her Mom mostly off in la la land (see: semi functional coma), and her aunt resentful of her presence, Willow has pretty much been making her own decisions for years, which is why she barely hesitates to give a reading to her popular classmate Beth. Instead of seeing SATs and college admissions, her vision shows the impossible: Beth has seen and interacted with an Angel – one who is sucking the energy from her with every meeting.

You see, in Willow’s world Angels exist. Only instead of passing on heavenly enlightenment and being guardians to all things great and small, they harvest our energy and leave their human victims with Angel Burn. The burn manifests during the feeding as euphoria, but this brain suck results in a whole spectrum of physical and mental illnesses. The drainee doesn’t realize this, of course, and its this compelling desire to once again be an Angel’s fruit smoothie that has driven the masses to build places of worship to these heavenly beings.

The Church of Angels is nationwide, mega-sized, and coming to a city near year.

Working to combat these parasitic faux saviors are the Angel Killers (the AKs for short*) - a cobbled together band of hunters started by Alex’s father after his wife became an Angel victim. The AKs recently became the jurisdiction of the CIA – despite the fact that the CIA does not operate on US soil – who now texts solo hunters the address of disguised Angels so that they can go blow some halo.

Still with me?

Good, because that was just the back story. You see, Beth – the originator of Willow’s not so heavenly visions – tips off her Angel to our psychic friend, and he realizes that Willow is an even bigger threat to Angel-kind than Miss Cleo.

Seeing as how she is actually half angel. That’s right, if biblical history has taught us nothing else, it’s that nephilim will not be tolerated.**

Next thing you know, Alex gets a text and makes his way to Pawtucket, to go hunting.

Props to Weatherly for giving Angels the soylent green spin, and creating a couple of characters who have a habit of making the right decisions. Once Willow and Alex head for the road, Willow does not give in to the need to call home, and Alex is willing to see beyond the Angelic obvious. Combine this with the author’s use of the hysterical religiosity of the Church of Angel followers with a splash of current social networking, and suddenly there’s a creepy sense of halo-ed Big Brother hunting our protagonists.

Angel Burn is a road trip story, an Urban Fantasy and a new creationist tale all rolled into one. As the only two people out to save the world, Willow and Alex have to set aside their differences and grow to love and understand one another while trying to stop a massive Angelic influx.

It is the building of this relationship where the story experiences the occasional hiccups. Due to her isolation with Alex, Willow’s feeling read a little Stockholmish, while Alex overcomes his prejudices and goes a bit flowery pretty quickly. Truthfully, I was willing to completely accept both of these things until the couple has some Garden of Eden time up in the mountains. They choose to acknowledge the physical, but not go all the way. Not because they don’t have any birth control or that it wouldn’t be the best time for Willow to get knocked up before they save the world, but because Willow isn’t ready. Sentiment appreciated? Yes. Is the behavior all sorts of gentlemanly? Of course. But truthful to the situation? Eh, I fully believe that given a chance those two would have been getting it on like the Rapture was tomorrow.

Alternating between first person (Willow) and third (Alex, the villian, and others), L.A. Weatherly creates a story of action and adventure that reads like a movie. Readers will be compelled along as Willow and Alex fight to bring down the Church of Angels, and save us all from unknowing from their touch.

Angel Burn is the first of a planned trilogy that has even this paranormal burnout interested in what will happen next.

Recommended for paranormal fiends looking for something new, YA-oholics who don’t want an Edward/Bella/Jacob love triangle and any reader who wants something to burn with over the summer break.

You can purchase Angel Burn from these fine retailers: Powells, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Your Local Indie, or you can pick it up at your local library.

Book Source: My church of choice – the library. 

*Yep, and just like the 47s, you just aim them and fire.
**and that it’s okay to get it on with a sibling in ye olden times.

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