Monday, September 5, 2011

YA book review: Airel by Aaron Patterson and Chris White

Paperback: 425 pages
Publisher: StoneHouse Ink; 1 edition (August 31, 2011)

Blurb: All Airel ever wanted to be was normal, to disappear into the crowd. But bloodlines can produce surprises, like sudden mysterious illness. Then there’s Michael Alexander, the new guy in school, who is impossibly gorgeous…and captivated by her. Somewhere in the back of her mind she can hear the sound of pages turning, and another, older story being written. It is the story of an ancient family, of great warriors, of the Sword of Light, and the struggle against an evil so terrible, so far-reaching, that it threatens everything she hopes for even now. Airel knew change would be inevitable as life went on. But can she hold on when murder and darkness begin to close in and take away everything she loves? Will she have what it takes when the truth is finally revealed?

Our review: Patterson and White have certainly created a special niche for themselves in the angel genre. Airel was unlike other celestial tales I've read. Split into two parallel storylines: one is told in the past by Kreios, a sword-wielding angelic warrior, one of the 'fallen', determined to keep his baby daughter alive and away from the clutches of evil. After the death of his beloved wife, Kreios is desperate to keep his family intact and travels to his brother's town for help getting back home, despite risking detection by the bad guys monitoring the area. The other main character is present day Airel, a regular seventeen year old girl. She gets nervous around a new cute guy at a local coffeehouse. But she is far from normal, as only she witnesses a murder, then spots the murderer outside her house, and, oh, there's the strange way she heals and the weird pain in her stomach. As Airel begins to wonder what she is, an immortal guardian will step up to protect her at all costs. 

At first I didn't care much for Airel. I thought she was another eye-rolling emotional teen lamenting about her life. I found the opening chapters too slow and thought she told us too much about herself instead of showing us her life. Her story didn't pick up for me until Chapter 7 when she heads to the mall with her bestie, Kim, and James and Michael. I began to see more of Airel as a person as she interacted with friends. And just as I was getting into the story, Chapter 9's abrupt change in point-of-view threw me out the story by introducing the more adult, dry and intense immortal Kreios. From the intimacy of first person I had to adjust to third person.

The good news is I did adjust. Kreios was such a demanding presence--I wanted to learn more about his story and what his connection to Airel would be. What I didn't enjoy was the distance between their viewpoints. First there would be Airel for many chapters (like 1 through 8), then Kreios for a bunch, and back to her. I would have liked to see their chapters alternate in order to maintain the tension. At times Kreios' story lagged in parts, drawing out the book. When Airel and her boyfriend Michael are abducted in a parking lot after their first date, the story took off for me and I became fully involved. Kudos to the authors for the sweet twist towards the end and for letting me know this was the first in a series. 

I also thought the addition of two more characters as narrators (both bad guys) wasn't necessary. By then I was invested in Airel and Kreios, I didn't want to hear from them. Airel also changed so quickly in personality. I first found her kind of easy going, then she became this teen so absorbed in her new beautiful face and hair. When she comes to grips with her situation, I was finally able to like her transformation. As for her love interest, Michael didn't really become fleshed out until the end. If there was another pov to put in this story, his would have given me the knowledge I wanted to understand his sudden attraction to Airel. Otherwise, their romance didn't ring true until the ending.

Once the pacing picked up, I really enjoyed Airel. She became a believable heroine longing to discover her history and place in the world. I liked how she didn't forget her parents at home while she was taken away and how she dropped everything to help her best friend. I may have liked Kreios even more if his story was told from first person. The storyline and angelic history/mythology was fully realized, the settings were picturesque, especially the last section at the mountain, and for the most part the dialogue sounded real. The battle scenes were gripping and Kreios' Sword of Light and ability to speed through the air was mighty cool. Michael at times came across too perfect to be true but now that I've read the book and the teaser, I want to experience his story in the second installment.

I don't see angel tales stopping anytime soon and Airel is one fans will want to experience for themselves.

Rating: Despite my concerns, I have to rate this 4 stars--I really liked it once it took off.

Favorite excerpts: ""Michael..." Kim said as if pondering his name for the first time. "Good to meet you! This is my friend Airel." She pointed to me and I could see the wicked smirk on her face. I was going to kill her. Murder, kill--and then for sport--unfriend her on Facebook."

"The people in front of us, all the way down to the front row, were all a blur--all but two, who sat in the second row. It was a tall man with short blond hair and a shorter man with a ball cap on. They were talking  and from where I was sitting, I could tell they were not happy."

Cover comment: Isn't it gorgeous? And for once the picture truly reflects a scene in the book. I could picture Airel wearing this black dress on her first date with Michael. I'm not sure where the feather fits in though (without stating the obvious).

Book source: Received ebook from book tour for my totally honest review.


  1. This has such a beautiful cover! Best of luck to Chris with it.

  2. I agree with the cover, it is gorgeous! The story sounds very good too, I'm going to add it to my list :)