Saturday, 1 December 2012

Review: Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler

Okay, firstly I need to make it known that whilst I will read the occasional angel-based fiction, I'm not a believer. I don't normally let this bother me - after all, I'm reading fiction. I don't need to believe in vampires or werewolves to enjoy reading about them, so I shouldn't need to believe in angels either. Except it doesn't always work like that. I love, love, loved Lauren Kate's Fallen series - a love story that spans the ages, hot boys with wings, a strong female lead - what's not to love? But when it came to Elizabeth Chandler's Kissed by an Angel, I realised that angels + YA - not always a great recipe.

Kissed by an Angel is a good, chunky book - the kind I always look forward to getting me teeth into as I know it's going to last me for more than a couple of hours. It didn't take me long however to realise that I was in for a disappointment. There's no one thing that I can say is wrong with the book. I read it to the end, even kind-of enjoyed it, but there were a few things which niggled. We're given a fast-forward romance between Ivy and Tristan to set the scene, before Tristan tragically dies. No spoiler there - it's all in the blurb on the back of the book. It's the whole point of the book. But I wasn't convinced by the young lovers' relationship - they seem deeply in love in some ways, yet they hardly know each other, and they're missing the little things that make a couple a couple. If you've read my review of Shiver/Linger/Forever, you'll know how I enthused over Stiefvater's writing and the way she makes a relationship come alive... That was totally missing here. So Tristan dies, and things get weird.

Obviously, Tristan becomes an angel. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But Chandler's imagining of an angel is really much more like a ghost in my mind. He can't be seen or heard except by people who are sensitive; he has to complete some unfinished business before moving on to whatever comes next; he can walk through walls... any of this sounding like an angel? Maybe if the book was called Kissed by a Ghost and we forgot all the faith stuff I'd like it more.

For a love story, things start to get pretty weird once the hero dies. Obviously, he can't stay with his true love if he's dead and she's alive, so how's that going to work? I'm not going to drop any spoilers, let's just say it's a very unusual ending for a love story. I actually admire Chandler for that - in a world of novels full of girl meets boy/they fall in love/something stands in their way/happily ever after, it takes guts to break free of the formula. I'm just not sure I like how she's done it.

To be fair, Kissed by an Angel is more than a love story - it's a bit of a mystery thriller too. This keeps things interesting for a while. I'm not going to give anything away, so you'll just have to read it if you want to know. Towards the end though I just couldn't help thinking 'get on with it!'. I found Ivy a bit lacking in guts and interest to be honest. She falls in love way too easily, which many teen girls can be accused of, so I guess that's realistic enough, but there's just something about her that grated on my nerves. Don't get me wrong - I was happy to keep reading to the end. Chandler kept my interest enough that I wanted to know everything that happened, but I have to say that I won't be looking out for the next book - sorry. Don't take my word for it though - plenty of people have enjoyed the book so as always with these things it's a matter of opinion. If you like the sound of it, read it. Reviews don't always have to be good, but they are always personal. This is my take on the book, but give it a chance and let me know yours...

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