Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review | Angel Eyes

Angel Eyes
Angel Eyes Trilogy #1
Shannon Dittemore

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  YA Fiction, Christian
Released:  2012

[Goodreads]
Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .

ANGEL EYES

Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.

Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

[The Basics]
This, to say the least, is an intriguing story.  Haha. But you know I can't stop there!  (I apologize in advance, this review is lengthy.  :-/ ) I was pleasantly surprised with quality of writing and the simple, yet supernatural plot.

First of all, this tale is written in first person.  And while that is my least favorite of writing styles, I was drawn into Brielle's story right from the start.  Shannon Dittemore has a way with words that is unique and will leave you thinking, "Wait. Why didn't I think of that?"  Her imagery is fantastic.

Brielle Matthews has just returned from the big city to her tiny, small-town hole of Stratus.  Two years prior, she was given the chance to begin her ballet dream, for which she is naturally gifted, and given a scholarship to attend a pristine dance school.  At first, things are fabulous and she makes friends.  But all too soon a terrible tragedy tears her world in two and she seeks refuge in her old hometown.  Upon arriving home, Brielle's father, a giant of a lumberjack, greets her openly.  Because of her mother's death many years ago, it has just been the two of them and they have stuck pretty close.  At least until she left for the city.  Turns out, the only thing that has changed in her absence is herself.  Little Stratus is the same old same old.  Well, except for the new kid.

Jake Shield is a mysterious guy.  And his guardian, Canaan, is just as much a puzzle.  Brielle can't quite figure them out, but she does find a friend in Jake, and for that, she is grateful.

[Positives]
Her relationship with her father is sweet.  There is no doubt her loves her deeply, but his work keeps him away more often than not.  Dad gives Brielle the space she needs and even goes so far as to make sure one of her old friend's is around to keep her company for a day.

Jake answers Brielle's questions as best as he knows how.  He tells her what she wants to know, but doesn't press his beliefs.  All too often, as Christians, we think that what's best for an unbeliever is to get a good Bible-thumping one way or another, right?  But not so, the human soul is a fragile thing, something Jake knows by pure experience.

[Negatives]
A girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, though she and her boyfriend plan to later get married.

[SPOILER] An underlying plot of human trafficking takes place behind the scenes, though it is hinted at many times.  Children and teens are kidnapped to be later sold.  This doesn't go into detail, thankfully, but you are aware of this horrid crime.  The captives are kept in a warehouse, secured like dogs to poles and paralyzed with terror.

[Spiritual Content]
Whew, boy.  Well, this little tale centers around the supernatural, so of course God's angels and those of the Fallen play a huge part in the story.  First, you must know there are two realms.  The Celestial, that by which the angels and demons see, and the Terrestial, where we humans live in.  In the Celestial, emotions are clearly visible.  Fear is described as a tar-like substance, which can anchor a person down and hold him/her paralyzed.  It oozes from the body and is just all-around nasty.  Colors swirl in constant motion and what is invisible to human eyes becomes visible.

Both demons and angels have the ability to take on human/Terrestrial forms, where other humans can see them.  Angels, in this story, are male or female.  This kinda threw me off for a bit, because angels are never really given a gender according to Scripture, but for this tale, it fit.

According to this story, the 2/3rds of angels who resisted the Prince of Darkness were rewarded by God with crowns, or halos.  These halos have a heavenly light and emit comforting heat and peace to whoever holds it and helps to reveal special abilities.  Jake has a gift: the ability to heal.  Brielle learns that, with the help of the halo, she can see into the Celestial, whereas Jake cannot.  I could add a lot more regarding the halo, but moving on.

Jake, having been raised by Canaan (have you guessed what he is?), seems to radiate heat and light, which shows his devotion to God.  References are made to Scripture.  Brielle's father, because of the loss of his wife, is angry with God, who he deems as cruel and nonexistent.  When Brielle shares this with Jake, he says, "[God] can't be both."  Jake trusts wholly in God, even though He doesn't always understand His ways.  Brielle has more difficulty in such simple faith.

In one scene, we are given a glimpse of heaven and the Throne Room of God.  Angels are singing praises in the background.  At other times, the angel guardians shout praises to God while on their earthly missions.  For angels, these assignments are highly regarded, whereas for the Fallen, they are despised and often given as punishment.  The angels have full ability in the Celestial, but the demons are limited.  The light is painful to their twisted bodies, and while they exult in flight, to them, being in the dark halls of their Prince is the more favored of jobs.

[Violence]
A demon-man shoots a woman in the gut  [SPOILER] but she doesn't die. . . The same demon shoots another man, then stabs him in his heart/soul with his sword.  One man is shot in cold blood by another bad guy.  We hear the shots and see the results in the Celestial realm.  Another is shot twice and dies.

Two men beat and batter one another, eventually resulting in one man pinning the other's arm between two palettes and starts to swing a board with projecting nails--he's stopped.

Wings (of angels and demons alike) are stabbed, tattered, torn, and broken.
Demons are stabbed and slashed, one beheaded. (They disappear as ash, apparently returning to their "home" to face the wrath of their Prince.)

A girl is stabbed in the chest by a thrown knife.

[Language, Alcohol & Drugs]
One "sheesh."  Curses are muttered under the breath, but not spelled out.  Brielle's dad drinks beer a time or two.

[Love-y Content]
Several kisses.  Yep, you knew this was a romance, right?  A good deal of holding hands, embracing/ comforting through hugs.  It's obvious Jake and Brielle come to care for one another.  But they wisely choose boundaries.

[Conclusion]
Overall, I really enjoyed this.  In a way, it reminded me briefly of Frank Peretti's books (absolute favorites), "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness," in how the angels and demons are portrayed.  Because we don't truly realize, and some blatantly ignore, that there is a supernatural realm, it takes a bit of imagination and I love how Shannon Dittemore visualizes it.

This book makes it clear that one realm (Celestial/Terrestrial) does not operate without the other.  Brielle realizes this and comes to understand that God is in total control.  Not one thing happens that He did not already foresee.  I was pleased this story made a point to state this fact.  God is in control, even when hope is gone and Darkness seems to hold the victory.

And He's given us a promise!  The battle is already won.

"For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens."
-Ephesian 6:12-

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Recommended ages:  YA, 15+


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5 comments:

Jillian said...

I loved this book! I read it on Christmas Eve last year and I was surprised by how amazing it was. Like you said, Shannon does a great job with crafting imagery. I've been meaning to read the rest of the series for the longest time too.

Great review, Sarah! Thanks for sharing :)

Christine Smith said...

AHHH!!! Your reviews are just the best! So thorough and helpful.

Thank you so much for reviewing this. This book very much intrigued me, but I get wary about angel books, especially in the YA genre, because sometimes they get...weird. A lot of people portray angels and demons far different from the Bible. But it sounds like Shannon Dittemore handled it beautifully.

I'm so happy to know this book is a good one, because I really did want to read it. Now I must get my hands on it!

Thank you again for the fantastic review!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Thanks you, Jillian! If you ever get to the sequels before I do, I'd love to hear what you think! :]

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Christine: Yes! I totally understand. Why, when people hear of angels, do they think of drop-dead gorgeous women or baby cherubs???

I guess that's one of the reasons I loved this book so much. Because she stuck to the tall, warrior-like men (there is one lady angel, but she's awesome). Have you read the Peretti's books I mentioned? His vision is very similiar. Love it!

My pleasure, dearie! ;D

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Christine: Yes! I totally understand. Why, when people hear of angels, do they think of drop-dead gorgeous women or baby cherubs???

I guess that's one of the reasons I loved this book so much. Because she stuck to the tall, warrior-like men (there is one lady angel, but she's awesome). Have you read the Peretti's books I mentioned? His vision is very similiar. Love it!

My pleasure, dearie! ;D