After what seems like an eternity (almost two years), I finally finished Finding Angel by my friend and editor Kat Heckenbach. And now I owe her a review. I owe others reviews too and I intend to get to those quite soon.
Kat would scold me if I wasn’t honest in this review, because after all she’s written blogs about being honest in reviews and I don’t think she’d appreciate me holding my punches. So here’s my honest opinion (you asked for it) about this YA Fantasy, available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook. Check it out here. http://amzn.com/1927154138 and Kat’s website www.KatHeckenbach.com.
The bad news:
Finding Angel felt at times as if influenced way too much by Harry Potter. A child raised in secret, returned to the world of his/her birth by the very person who carried him/her to safety. A prophecy about the return of the villain, thought to have been destroyed trying to capture/destroy the child in the first place, and a certain magical item inheritance a la Deathly Hallows. Not to mention the wonder of discovering a new world of magic. Sure there were a lot of unique spins and new ideas. But for following some of the same paths already blazed by JK Rowling, 45 points will be taken from Heckenbach house.
Finding Angel may feel slow in the middle. After what seemed like a solid start, once everyone reached Toch Island the pace fell to a crawl with plot advancement almost on a drip feed until about 75% through the book. I’m not saying this time isn’t interesting, but it’s more about…well…finding out who Angel is than it is about resolving the fiery opening and the cryptic shadowed intermittent scenes about the bad guy. Is this a good vs. evil story? Or is this a self-discovery story? For trying to juggle two story dynamics such that the pace is affected, 40 points will be taken from Heckenbach house.
Finding Angel may feel like the climax is rushed in comparison. Because so much time is spent in the mid section devoted to “finding Angel,” and because there is so much ticking time-bomb material scattered throughout, when we finally do get to the climax it feels almost rushed and a little lack-luster. With such a build up and so much waiting to get there, I wanted more from the climax. For cheating me the satisfaction I was looking for, 30 points will be taken from Heckenbach house.
The good news:
Finding Angel is fun. The lilting prose of Kat’s YA style is quick and easy to read, giving you a low impact, low challenge, fun read. That being said, there’s enough meaty science, in the vein of Michael Crichton, in here to give one pause for thought if you’re so inclined to analyze such things. But the brilliance of this book is that it is not necessary. If you’re going to read Crichton, you’d better put your thinking cap on or you’ll never get through it. If you’re going to read Heckenback, your thinking cap is optional. And that’s great, considering it’s YA. Young adults tend to go both directions…full-tilt ADD fun or sit down and think. For a perfect blend of science and noncommittal fun, I award Heckenbach house 50 points.
Finding Angel is difficult to figure out. I value plot lines that are not completely transparent, those that keep readers guessing up to the very end. And though I had a bead on the ending probably earlier than most readers, I know I am not average. Yet, those crucial details that solidified what was going on seemed simultaneously just within reach and completely unattainable until the moment Kat wanted the reader to know for sure. And even then, there was enough ambiguity to think maybe she was about to pull a double-switch. For dragging the reader along by the nose, I award Heckenbach house 50 points.
Finding Angel is exceptionally written. Perfect word choice, perfect sentence structure, perfect timing, and perfect picture forming. Everything flowed effortlessly and seamlessly, giving the reader an experience of witnessing events rather than reading type-copy. For filming a movie with the written word, I award Heckenbach house 60 points.
Assuming my calculations are correct… (60+(50(2)))-(30+40+45)=10X, where X represents the number of stars I should award. I award, Finding Angel 4.5 stars. And since I believe in rounding up, instead of rounding down when reporting these things to entities like Amazon…
Well done, Kat.