Alex – An “AK” or Angel Killer. He’s been an angel killer since he was little. His parents were killed – his mother by an angel – and his brother too. He is on a mission to destroy all the angels before they can do any more harm. He meets Willow on an assignment but realizes that she’s not an angel and he ends up determined to protect her. After traveling with her for a little, he realizes he has fallen in love with her.
Willow – always the different one, Williow is a teenage girl who is into fixing cars and dressing differently in vintage/thrift store clothes. She lives with her mother, who is mentally ill, and her Aunt Jo. She doesn’t really know what is wrong with her mother (at least at the beginning of the book). But she loves her mother. She’s also always been psychic. She meets Alex and falls in love with him.
Cully – Alex’s mentor and teacher in the AK’s. Turns out he is subject to Angel Burn and turns in Willow and Alex when they come to see Cully in New Mexico.
Nina – we don’t see much of Nina after the first few chapters. She’s Willow’s friend – although she’s skeptical of Willow’s abilities. We do learn in the end that she hasn’t given up on Willow and she doesn’t believe the cover story the Church of the Angles put out.
Beth – the classmate of Willow’s who goes to Willow for a reading. Willow knows that if she does the reading, things will never be the same. Despite that sense of foreboding, Willow does the reading. She see’s that Beth has seen an angel. Beth was hoping that Willow could help give her guidance. When Willow warns Beth that the angel isn’t good for Beth, that the angel is harming her, Beth freaks. She drops out of school and runs away to join the Church of Angels.
Raziel – The angel at the Church’s main site. He has been feeding on humans for hundreds of years. He is coordinating the next wave of the invasion. He volunteered to come with the first wave. Turns out to be Willow’s father. He’s been having Jonah forward orders to the AKs, as “Project Angel” has been infiltrated, to kill what he calls traitorous angels (we find out that those angels are the ones who do not believe that angels should fee off humans). He is injured in the end, but survives.
Lailah – A female angel who is on Raziel’s side.
Main Premise: Angels are real. But, they are not the benevolent beings modern religion classifies them as. But only a very few people know that. Alex, an AK (angel killer) is one of the people who knows that. And he roams the country killing angels. He receives a message directing him to kill someone at a particular address. Turns out, he sees Willow sleeping and sees that she is at least part angel. We learn that she is half angel. And, she has the potential ability to destroy all the angels. So, the angels want her dead. Alex wants to protect her because he wants the angels destroyed. Alex and Willow are trying to make their way to New Mexico, where Cully is. Alex hopes Cully will be able to help them. They have to run from crazy Church of the Angels members, who are looking for Willow too. After discovering Cully’s betrayal, Alex and Willow try to figure out what to do. While hiding in the mountains, a helicopter lands, bringing a lone CIA member (Sophie) with an angel who is on their side (Nate). They have a plan for Willow to try to stop the wave of angels that will be coming through to our world.
Other Important Things to Remember for Later: Nate is killed. Sophie left Willow because she had to survive since she would be the last person to know the truth if Nate and Willow didn’t survive. Alex rescues Willow and manages to wound Raziel, but not kill him. Raziel and Willow know that Raziel is Willow’s father. Jonah, who helped Willow, appears to have escaped. Cully was left alive but isn’t on Alex & Willow’s side. Nina hasn’t stopped looking for Willow. The second wave wasn’t stopped by the Angelica being placed at the gate where the angels crossed into our dimension, like everyone had hoped. Alex and Willow are headed to Mexico to try to recreate the “AK”s and Alex and Willow are, happily (in my opinion), together.
Review: I love it when an author takes something that is considered normal, conventional, and turns it all around on the reader. Here, we are given a world where angels are real, but they aren’t good for us. In fact, they cause disease, mental illness, and death. The angels feed off of people by draining their energy while at the same time the angel deceives the human into believing that it’s a wonderful experience. People who have been touched by an angel think it’s a miracle and they are blessed. But, we learn early on from Alex that any time an angel comes into humans life and feeds on them from there to humans life will never be the same.
The story follows, Alex, an angel killer, and Willow, a half-human/half-angel, as they travel across the country to try figure out what to do. The CIA, who Alex worked for, has been infiltrated and he doesn’t know who he can turn to. The pair, who start off hating each other, spend time together and get to know each other, and of course, fall in love. Just in time for Willow to have to decide to sacrifice her to stop more angels from coming to our world.
There were a number of really wonderful things about this book. Finally! We have a young adult book where we get the development of the relationship between the young girl and young man. It is typical in this genre to get a very brief picture of the two and then all of a sudden they are in love. And so often, it’s superficially based on “he’s so gorgeous” or “she’s so beautiful” but there is no real depth to the relationship, despite the undying love for each other. That was not the case here. And it was so refreshing.
Aiding in that, I believe, is the fact that we get multiple narrators, but only one of them is in the first person. It is also much easier to keep track of what was going on and who is telling what at any particular moment because of the way the narration alternates between Willow’s first person perspective and an omnipotent third-person narrator.
The story was engaging. We knew that Alex was after Willow from the start and we knew there was more to Willow then first meets the eye. There was action throughout – car chases, gun fights, angles chasing them across the desert and more. The presence of the crazy Church of the Angels people was a way to point out how fanatical people can be, especially when they are mistaken, but firmly believe in something, no matter how wrong that belief it.
It was also both interesting and a relief to see at that a story which was very much about angels had very little in the way of religious undertones. It was about faith, but didn’t matter or address, whether or not the reader believes in God. The true religion was left out of the story. It made for a much more enjoyable read.
One of my pet peeves is when an author doesn’t spend much time on character development. I personally, prefer character driven books (versus plot drive books) and here we saw some wonderful character development. It was as if the author really wanted to make sure we could feel for the characters, and route for Alex and Willow. The author made sure that the reader learned about each of the characters as as they told each other their stories about themselves and they got to know one another. You could almost see the relationship being built. It left me feeling very attached to the two characters I feel invested in knowing what happens next. The author paints nice robust characters and wonderful settings.
I also appreciate the we learned part of why the angels are invading without having to wait for the next book before learning anything. I’m sure there are details that’ll come out in the next book but I was very glad to feel like I had a full story in front of me between the two covers – without being left guessing while waiting for one of the next installments.
The authors ability to provide me with the detail I need to create the movie scene in my head is so important. Here. we had just as many details as I needed to do this, without being overwhelmed by extraneous and unimportant descriptions just for the sake of descriptions (newer authors tend to have this problem in spades). Sometimes it was what the characters were wearing, sometimes it was how they felt, and sometimes it was the setting they were in – but they were all in perfect balance so that I could se the mini-movie in my mind (which to me is the mark of a wonderful book!). It also helped build the relationship between the characters and left me feeling connected to them, as well as feeling the connection between them. Too often in this genre that connection is missing.
The only thing a little disappointing was the fairly obvious and not-so-shocking relationship to Raziel (from Willow’s perspective). It was fairly obvious from the beginning that there was going to be some connection. It also felt like it was fairly easy to see Cully’s betrayal a mile away too. However, I was surprised to look at a page count and see that I still had about 90 pages left when we get to the church to try and prevent the second wave. As a result, I knew that things were not going to go according to plan with Willow and her stopping the second wave. I knew things were not going to get tied up in a nice little neat little bow since there are two more books to come.
I think this is definitely a four-star book. I am excited for the next installment. Twilight fans, fans of the Lauren Kate Fallen series and others of that ilk will definitely enjoy this wonderful story.