Source: I received an e-book from Netgalley (thank you, StoneHouse Ink!)
All Airel ever wanted was to be normal, to disappear into the crowd. But bloodlines can produce surprises, like an incredible ability to heal. Then there’s Michael Alexander, the new guy in school, who is impossibly gorgeous…and captivated by her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she can hear the sound of pages turning, and another, older story being written. It is the story of an ancient family, of great warriors, of the Sword of Light, and the struggle against an evil so terrible, so far-reaching, that it threatens everything. Airel knew change would be an inevitable part of life. But can she hold on when murder and darkness begin to close in and take away everything she loves? Will she have what it takes when the truth is finally revealed? (Goodreads)
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My rating: 2/5
I requested Airel on Netgalley for the gorgeous cover and the intriguing synopsis … but I hate to say that it’s one of those books where I struggled quite a bit to get to the end.
First of all, there’s Airel, the girl who only wants to be normal. And she is – she loves to wear pink, likes coffee and has a quirky best friend. And then she stumbles across this drop-dead-gorgeous blue-eyed boy, Michael Alexander, who’s new in town, and instantly falls head-over-heels in love with him, even though they’ve only had one incredibly stilted conversation. She can’t stop thinking (and gushing internally) about his wonderful, deep, blue eyes and how he makes her feel. This is a sample of her (very repetitive) thoughts about him:
His face, his eyes, his expression was pure, and as he looked deep into my eyes, I saw a profound and enfolding desire there within him.
Because of course – of course – Michael is just as smitten with Airel as she is with him. But the fact is, we know next to nothing about this guy apart from the fact that Airel thinks he’s very cute. She’s just irationally attracted to him. Instantly.
He was dangerous. That was it. Different. Different from anyone else on the planet. And he was unexpected. He was a pleasant surprise, an enigmatic shock, a lightning strike in broad daylight at the center of a high alpine meadow. – Not only does this sound distinctly unpleasant, Michael never, ever does ANYTHING unusual that would make Airel’s belief legitimate.
But Airel also starts experiencing a kind of a transformation: she is violently sick several times for no apparent reason, experiences headaches – AND grows more and more beautiful every day! Her skin is flawless without makeup, the lack of sleep doesn’t really show on her face, her hair falls just so without her fussing with it … guys, it’s … annoying. She’s as perfect as she can get, physically, and if this is a superpower, I don’t think much of it.
When I say Airel’s physically perfect, I want to underline the physical part, because she’s certainly no gem when it comes to her intellect. She’s very vain, and is not above admiring herself in the mirror several times a day, but what threw me the most is her behaviour during and after a rather traumatic event (she witnesses a murder). I know teenagers are supposed to do stupid things, goof around and generally be teenagers, but some things just fall under the category “too dumb to be allowed”. I really want to get into detail here, but I won’t because I’d have to include all sorts of spoilers … and some of you might still want to read the book after this.
Another weird thing about this novel – and I’m perfectly aware that it’s just the first part in a saga with numerous sequels, apparently – are the flashes to an indetermined Arabian country in 125 B.C., where a group of fallen-but-good angels is trying to escape demons and save one of the angels’ half-human baby girl. These are entirely too long and complicated (name-and-mythology-wise), since we don’t know exactly how they relate to the storyline that’s happening in present-day Boise, Idaho. They also sound pompous and unorganic, like the goal was to give them some authentic epicness (this is totally a word).
Thus, we can only speculate. Is Airel the descendant of the angel? (Probably.) Is her transformation a weird manifestation of angelic powers? (Quite likely.) Is Michael human? (??) Is he a good guy? (??) Is the killer a demon? (??) Is he hunting Airel or trying to help her? (??) Why did Michael really move to Idaho? (??) Are Airel’s parents aware of what’s happening to her? (??)
I KNOW this is only the first part, I do, I really do. But the whole thing just left me feeling clueless, the ending wasn’t in any way clear on how things will proceed, there were questions raised but never answered … I like knowing where I stand. I recently had a similar problem with another book, actually: Unwept by Tracy and Laura Hickman was just as foggy as this one, so maybe it’s just a pet peeve that leaves other readers completely unfazed.
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Have you read Airel? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Do you like to know what’s happening or is the mystery what keeps you craving more?