Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hades by Alexandra Adornetto

Title: Hades
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Pages: 422 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Amazon Vine-provided ARC

Hades (Halo, #2)
Even the love of her boyfriend, Xavier Woods, and her siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can't keep the angel Bethany Church from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell. There, Jake Thorn bargains for Beth's release back to Earth. But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly, her loved ones. Can he be trusted in this wager?

Alexandra Adornetto's Hades has it all--good and evil, angels and demons, romance and heartbreak.


Almost six months after Halo, Bethany and her boyfriend Xavier are preparing to graduate from high school and go to college. Jake is freed from Hell after some fun with Ouija boards at a Halloween party goes wrong and he easily tricks Bethany into going to Hell with him. Bethany finds herself miserable, but the Lake of Dreams provides a way to see how Xavier, Gabriel, and Ivy are faring. While they try and find a way to break Beth out of the prison called Hell, Jake is working his hardest to seduce Bethany because if he gets his way, she's staying in Hell as his princess.

I can sum up why I felt the way I did about this book in two quick points:
  • Bethany uses a Ouija board. Again, an angel of God uses a Ouija board, a very powerful and dangerous occult item.
  • If Bethany had applied any logical thought to the situation, she could have avoided being tricked and taken to Hell. Everything about the situation, from how they left on foot but came back with a motorcycle to the person's admittance of drinking, should have made Bethany wary of riding with them. It didn't.
This was an error in the ARC that didn't make it into the final copy, but it was such a gem that I want to make sure people know it was there: Jake steps on the gas pedal of his motorcycle at one point. Motorcycles have throttle on the right handlebar that you twist, not gas pedals. Adornetto's lack of experience and inability to do research show, but this no longer counts toward the book's rating.

Are you still unconvinced and feel I need to go more in-depth? Keep reading.

The characters remain nearly unchanged. Bethany has me convinced a side effect of an angel so young coming to Earth is that her brain didn't come with her. Xavier is still a bland love interest with shades of controlling and Jake is still a failure in every corner as a villain. Ivy takes a level in badass and Gabriel manages to change a little too. Molly's growth or likability is debatable, but her dramatics later in the book didn't endear her to me. New characters such as mean girl demon Asia and friendly demons Tucker and Hanna are flat too. Even Lucifer, the legendary fallen angel of legend, falls flat and is unconvincing as someone charismatic enough to make other angels turn against God.

There is a noticeable lack of research and there are discontinuities between Halo and Hades that desperately need correction before final publication. In Halo, Xavier was school captain and there were rugby players; in Hades, he's the class president (the US term for school captain, the latter being what it's called in the author's native country Australia) and they now play football instead of rugby. The motorcycle gas pedal gaffe is another example, and I could go on.

In fact, I will because a lot of the inaccuracies have to do with myths. As far as I know (and supported by one of the BFFs), a third of the angels in Heaven fell with Lucifer. In Hades, only eight fell, which is directly stated because of its importance in the worldbuilding. There were more than twenty-four angels in Heaven in the beginning, I'm sure The river Lethe makes you forget everything, not just the bad deeds you did, and of all the fallen angels to make an Original and a prince of one of Hell's nine circles, Arakiel isn't a good choice. Try Semyaza, leader of the Watchers and Arakiel's superior. (Thanks and credit go to Kira for teaching me that.)

This is a pet peeve and it had no bearing at all on my rating, but I was disappointed at how little research was done into the setting too. Venus Cove is stated as being in the coastal county of Sherbrooke County, Georgia. Sherbrooke County does not exist, but there are approximately 18 coastal counties in the state of Georgia. Maybe this bothers me because I'm a Georgia-born girl and I would like to see my home state get a more accurate spotlight put on it (or maybe the book could just not be set in Georgia at all; that would be nice).

Bethany and Xavier's relationship remains unhealthy as they continue to focus on one another's physical attributes instead of their personalities. Bonus: They both creepily take a whiff of each other's clothing before they go to bed. This book somehow made me more confused as to what they see in one another. Bethany sees how snappish and moody Xavier gets when under pressure and never considers that if she stays with him, she would be the target of his misdirected ire. And there's a chapter early in the book that lacks any significance to the story as a whole; it reads like a "screw you!" from author to reader specifically written for that purpose.

Did you hate how Bethany let Xavier protect and save her instead of trying to protect and save herself? It gets no better. In all her time in Hell, she makes one escape attempt. And of all the reasons one could come up with for wanting to get out of Hell (because it's a terrible place, or because demons are either trying to sex her up (consent optional) or kill her), she wants to leave because she needs her boyfriend fix. She flat-out admits she was content to wait to be rescued. Quotes would be given, but I can't because it's an ARC. In the end, she still ends up the damsel, being saved by others once again and literally hiding behind her rescuers during the climactic scene. We get some purity myth indoctrination too about being worth less or less lovable if you have sex, but I'm not even getting into that. This review is long enough as it is.

Because Bethie isn't around on Earth to narrate what's going on with them, we have the Lake of Dreams plot device, which allows someone who drinks from it to see what their heart most desires and lets Bethany narrate what's going on elsewhere. Someone told me that it could be used for psychological torture when I thought the Lake of Dreams was ridiculous, and that's a valid point. But why isn't it ever discussed as though it were once or still being used for psychological torture? Then we get another dose of deus ex machina where, if Bethany had just done that earlier in the book, so many pages could have been cut from a book that both is long and feels long.

Adornetto's vision of Hell is hopelessly muddled and contradictory. The world she built in Halo and Hades is heavily rooted in the Bible and Christianity. In those, Hell is a place of punishment not only for the humans that sinned while alive and did not gain or attempt to gain forgiveness, but also for Lucifer and the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God. In Hades, Hell is appropriately hellish in one part of it, where the human souls are tortured, but then there are nightclubs and high-class hotels for the demons, undermining what Hell is all about.

Hades. Is. Not. Hell. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Hades is sometimes used to refer to the Greek Underworld, though it is also the name of the god of the Underworld. All souls, good or bad, went to Hades and were then sorted into afterlives appropriately depending on whether the humans were good or bad while alive. The Christian Hell is a place of punishment for the fallen angels and sinful humans, as stated previously. The two are so radically different that trying to call the Hell within this book Hades is irritating because the two are not interchangeable. The attempts at blending the two into one realm, along with the parallels and allusions to the myth of Persephone, didn't work out.

The writing is still as atrocious as it ever was, maybe even more so in ARC form. There is repetitive description and wording (I will scream the next time I see "I know" in a book because it was used that much in Hades), purple prose, unnecessary description to bog down the pacing and scenes, numerous instances of cheating at narration (Bethany talks about how other characters feel or think when she has no way to know that), and one scene so badly worded that I had to reread it two more times to figure out what happened. The narration-cheating gets significantly worse during segments concentrating on Xavier and co.

But I will give some credit where it is due: Hades is an improvement, however slight I feel it is, on Halo. There was an exorcism scene late in Hades that was somewhat enjoyable and the plot took center stage fairly early in the book; I didn't have to wade through seemingly endless amounts of useless fluff to get to the plot like I did with Halo. Little details such as these weren't anywhere near close enough to countering the many problems within Hades, sadly.

I made the bad decision to read Halo, I made another bad decision to read Hades, but nothing short of having my dreams served to me on a silver platter with no strings attached and no possible way for it to backfire on me will get me to read Heaven. Not even to finish the series. Not even to entertain a few friends. I don't recommend starting this series at all, let alone reading Hades. Now I'm going to go watch two hours of Tokyo Mew Mew because when my brain needs relief, good-cheesy magical girl anime is the solution.

0 stars!

What am I reading next?: The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade


  1. Um Ahleigh, since the first book was infinite ukeleles, why did you even bother reading the second book?
    Oh and The Ghost and The Goth rules!

  2. Because I'm an idiot. There's really no escaping that. I also wanted to entertain some friends on Goodreads that I thought would enjoy it. They did, and that is what made reading the book even slightly worth it. But I'm still an idiot.

    And I'm loving The Ghost and the Goth so far! I definitely needed a funny book like this.

  3. i think your being a bit harsh she has tried her best and even made a good name for herself. i don't think what you have said is fair, especcilly the way you said she portrayed hell to be completely differnt from what it is in the bible. we dont even know if hell is even real and that is her personal view or it could just be completely made up. i am still longing for the book to come ( got anouther 52 days for it to get to waterstones) and nothing you said has put me off.
    i thought halo was brilliant im reading loads of angel and fantacy books at the moment and they are all great. they are mostle quite deep maybe you should just look better.

  4. I don't think I was being too harsh. Even if she tried her best and has made a name for herself, I feel Adornetto wrote a bad book and wrote a review that reflected my feelings. It was so long and talked about so much because I felt there was so much wrong with the book. (Also, I have a bad habit of being wordy and babbling. I'm sure you've noticed.)

    It's very true that we don't know if Hell is real and it's her right to create a version of Hell as she pleases. I have no problems with different visions of Hell, but Adornetto's just didn't work for me and felt contradictory in both its own universe and as a vision of Hell in general. My reviews are just as much about a book's objective quality as whether or not certain elements of the book work for me. What doesn't work for me can be just fine for others.

    I'm glad I didn't put you off the book! I may not be a fan of the Halo series, but it's wonderful that you are and I hope you enjoy Hades when it comes out.

  5. I would like to see you write a best seller, Ashleigh.
    I respect the fact that you honestly gave your review of Hades, but undermining it and saying it isn't what it's all cracked up to be isn't reviewing, it's bashful towards the author and the book.
    If you didn't like how Alexandra ardornetto portrayed her version of hell, that's fine. Some people will love the way hell and it's characters are portrayed and some won't.
    Giving reviews isn't something that should be taken lightly, because of your words Hades will now have a negative impact on those who were deciding to read it, so thank you for showing us your view point. Please respect the fact that the author has accomplished alot at a very young point of her age, trying to ignore bashful reviews of her book.
    When I read Hades, if I decide to post a review I would be offering the negative and positive points of the book.
    Why don't you read another book off a best selling author and ruin that for us.

  6. I agree with anonymous.
    This is one review that I actually find myself doubting to even bother to pick up a copy when it's released.
    Then I remind myself that this isn't a person offering a review of the Hades book, but simply undermining and spewing distasteful words.
    So when I do eventually read Hades, I'll be thanking the author for her commitment and thanking her for a series where nothing is ever as it seems and Hell is shown as a trendy torture spot not all screams, fire and red skinned demons with pitchforks.

  7. Anon 1 (technically 2 because there was already another anon before you on July 9, but I will call you Anon 1), the closing line of your comment is especially immature. For all the good you're trying to do with your comment, that line doesn't help your agrument.

    I don't need to write a bestseller to be allowed to talk about what I do and don't like in books or whether or not I think a book is good. I just need to be a reader. If only bestsellers could talk about books, we would have far fewer reviewers, reliable ones fewer still.

    It doesn't matter how old the author is or how much she has accomplished at her age. She is a published author and I judge her work on the same level as any other novel. Age means nothing. I write reviews partly to help people avoid bad books, so I don't see the problem with writing a negative review. I'm not going to lie and say it was good or tell them it was bad but they should still pay twenty dollars or more for it.

    As you can see by your own declarations that you will still buy Hades, my negative review has less of an impact than you think. I've bought more than a few books based on curiosity after reading negative reviews (including Halo) and those who truly want the book will still buy it. I would dare to say negative reviews sell more books than positive reviews sometimes.

  8. ashleigh, you're awesome. that is all.


I love hearing what others have to say about books and it makes me feel less like I'm talking to an empty auditorium, so comment away. Thank you for reading my blog post!