Tuesday, June 28, 2011

H.Y.P.E. Project: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Title: Halo
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Pages: 496 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Got it on my Kindle for the H.Y.P.E. Project (details here)

HaloNothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from Heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings.

But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.


It is suspected that the town of Venus Cove is under attack by Agents of Darkness, so three angels are sent to the town in order to help the people regain their faith and become closer to God: warrior archangel Gabriel, healer Ivy, and Bethany, an angel only seventeen years old in mortal years. They're not supposed to get too close to the humans while on their mission, but Bethany immediately falls head over heels in love with Xavier Woods. Their relationship is not without its obstacles, including the objection of Bethany's angel siblings and the arrival of a strange new student from Great Britain named Jake Thorn who wants Bethany.


The characters in this book lack any depth and it would be more accurate to call them caricatures. The angels lack any personality; in-book, Bethany says that angels have no need to develop humans personalities because of what they are, but this excuse doesn't work because characters, angels or no, need personalities to make a good novel. (I would cite this quote exactly, but I am unable to due to reading it on a Kindle.) Xavier and Bethany's relationship is no sort of love anyone would call healthy; at best, it's an unhealthy infatuation between teenagers and at worst, it's obsession.

Every human character besides Xavier is made out to be shallow; boys only want to get in girls' pants and girls talk about nothing but prom. As anyone who knows real teenagers would know, real teens are nowhere near this shallow. It seems like they're all portrayed so shallowly and placed around Bethany to make her look better, but the trick doesn't work. Even Jake Thorn, the antagonist, was just a bunch of cliches thrown together instead of anything halfway memorable or remarkable.


The plot was nonexistent until about the last fourth of the novel, when the antagonist Jake Thorn (whom Adornetto goes through pains to make obvious as the antagonist with passages far too heavy in foreshadowing) stepped up his game. Before then, it had been all about Bethany and Xavier becoming infatuated in one another. Neither of the characters are interesting enough to make the first three-fourths of the novel character-driven and the pacing suffers for it.


Feminists should stay away from this book at all costs. Many of the themes and messages within Halo carry a heavy antifeminist slant and it's not easy to ignore or avoid while reading. When many of these themes came around, it felt like I was being preached to by the author, and I didn't enjoy that at all. To start with (all of this is according to the book, not me; I don't believe in any of this), Christianity is the only way. The mistakes of a young woman reflect badly on the reputation of her entire family. A young woman is not responsible for her own mistakes because the man of the family takes them on as his own mistakes. You should judge a person by how they look because if they wear Gothic clothes, they are either evil or under the control of evil.

Throughout the entire book, women are very passive and it's always the men that take the first step or fight the big battles. The women are always the ones in need of saving. Even the dog refuses to sit when a female tells him so and then immediately sits when a male tells him so. This book is supposed to take place in the twenty-first century, and all these outdated values and blatant displays of sexism deserve no place here.

Conflict? There was none. Bethany and Xavier's relationship never faced anything I thought was a threat for even a second; I always knew they would just go around it or ignore what they were told to do so they could be together. The battle of good vs. evil didn't happen until the last ten percent of the novel and even that climactic scene lacked any tension or true conflict. To demonstrate, the following song was stuck in my head throughout the climax:

(What can I say? Sailor Moon will always have a special place in my heart, and this song fit the climactic scene too perfectly not to tell the world about it.)
Halo's writing was amateur at best and at worst...I really don't know what to say about it when it was at its worst. So much description could have been cut from this book without negatively impacting the reading experience--actually, cutting even half of the overly purple prose, unnecessary description, and just plain outlandish description would have made for a significant improvement. I'll just drop a few quotes here that I found while reading. They should say enough. Once again, I'm unable to cite page numbers due to reading it on my Kindle.
"Gabriel turned to look at me, his eyes the color of thunder."
"That was the effect he had on me--an explosion of happiness in my chest, scattering like little beads and making my whole body shiver and tingle."
And finally, the quote that has made many a feminist reader angry, one that definitely shouldn't have made it into the final copy. I take offense to this too and nothing I can say hasn't already been said:
"For the evening at least, feminist philosophy had been abandoned, and the girls, like fairy-tale princesses, allowed themselves to be led up the flight of steps and into the foyer."
Logic Only a select few books have ever made less sense. If my Christian mythology is correct, God has thrown angels out of Heaven and made them fallen angels before for putting anything, from love to their own selves, above God and their duty as angels. Bethany did just this, but she was not and never becomes a fallen angel. Angels are supposed to possess all human knowledge, but Bethany has no idea how to use a tube of lip gloss, and that's human knowledge too, albeit a different kind. It doesn't stop there. Where does a demon from Hell get a British accent from? Who brings a human who can easily get killed to a battle between a warrior angel and a demon? If Xavier is so in love with Bethany, why is he so unwilling to let her give her side of the story about what happened on prom night? Didn't the author know that an inverted pentagram (which is worn around Jake's neck at one point) is a pentacle, which is a symbol of good and white magic instead of black magic like she likely meant it to be? I could still go on. As I said, only a select few books have ever made less sense. Was it worth the hype? Admittedly, all the hype I heard for this book was negative. This is one of the worst books I've ever read, many friends said, and you should never read it if you value your sanity. Can it be helped that I got curious? But now that I've read it, I have to agree with them. It lived up to its negative hype and exceeded it. The one nice thing I heard was the the cover was lovely and in that respect, it also lived up to the hype. Bonus cover section The cover, I admit, is beautiful. The models' poses and the sun shining through creates a striking effect. Such a lovely cover is part of why Halo had so much hype. When beautiful covers like this are made, word gets around and people want to see if what's between the covers is as good. Some say that good covers often hide bad stories; in this case, I agree. Lovely covers do not a good book make. 0 stars! Halo was as bad as I'd heard it was and then some.
What am I reading next?: Chime by Franny Billingsley


  1. I like how your rating is done with ukuleles. :)

  2. My radical feminism tells me that the Religious Right wrote this and I won't EVER read this!
    Oh, and the Sailor Moon part made me LOL!


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