Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 448 pages
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility.
Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.
Okay, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. Actually, to be more accurate, I've got a whole lot of really bad news and I've got a little bit of fairly good news. Therefore, I think I'll try softening the blow somewhat by starting this review off sunny side up.
The good news is that I thought the writing flowed naturally & smoothly and possessed an eloquent, mature quality that I found quite appealing. Also, I thought that there were some rather intriguing ideas incorporated into the story with lots of potential for growth.
Unfortunately, that's where the Happy Meal ends and the spanking begins.
First of all, I just did not find the characters to be original or even interesting. They were all made from the same molds we've seen used in YA fiction over & over again. It seemed as though they each followed a designated checklist of traits based on a specific character type and nothing more. Don't believe me? Well, allow me to present you with the following evidence:
Exhibit A: Darius - The Bad Boy/Older Brother
- Has a prickly exterior with an air of superiority. Check.
- Smirks when not looking bored. Check
- Alternates between sitting in the dark (for no apparent reason) and nonchalantly leaning against the nearest wall. Check.
- Is constantly brooding and making sarcastic remarks. Check.
Exhibit B: Griffin - The Golden Boy/Younger Brother/Love Interest #1
- Is the sweet & gentlemanly boy next door. Check.
- Follows the rules and says all the right things. Check.
- Wears his heart on his sleeve. Check.
- Has a White Knight Complex, making him overprotective and self-sacrificing. Check.
Exhibit C: Raum - The Mysterious Emo Boy/Love Interest #2
- Is perpetually angst-ridden and has a Woe Is Me mentality. Check.
- Repeatedly appears out of nowhere whenever the heroine is alone. Check.
- Keeps lots of secrets and has a tendency to speak cryptically. Check.
- Has a chip on his shoulder and a tragic past that leaves him damaged on the inside. Check.
Helen, the heroine, doesn't bring anything new to the table either. Unsurprisingly, she's incredibly beautiful & special but doesn't acknowledge it herself. We're lead to believe that she's supposed to be strong & independent, but she repeatedly finds herself playing the role of Damsel In Distress. She talks a big game, insisting she doesn't want to be treated like a porcelain doll, but continuously disregards other people's justified warnings and walks straight into trouble she's not at all prepared to handle.
What was even more frustrating & disappointing was the fact that despite being taught by her parents to be clever & observant, Helen constantly did and said things that made me wonder whether she'd been beaten over the head with a stupid stick. Time after time, she'd ask pointless questions whose answers were either already provided or clearly obvious, and she'd make decisions that completely disregarded all common sense. For example, a scientist named Galizur gives Helen a handful of tranquilizer darts to be used on guard dogs and says to her, "The ends are covered in a sleep-inducing toxin." Helen responds to this by saying, "You mean the darts will put the dogs to sleep?" And then some time later she follows that up with this little gem of insight: "Hitting an inanimate object in the corner seems a bit easier than a moving target." (Yeah, no shit Sherlock.) Sadly, that's only a small fraction of instances that had my face getting personally acquainted with my palm and eventually led me to dub her Snooki (Captain Obvious came in a close second).
My other problems with A Temptation of Angels include the plot, which in all honesty seemed rather barren and unevenly paced. Come to think of it, the plot didn't really start to develop & pick up momentum until the last 3rd of the book. Additionally, besides a couple of brief instances of info-dumping, not much insight (aside from very basic facts) was offered about the Keepers, the Dictata, or the Legion. Concepts that the premise is based upon were defined in an almost clinical fashion and then left mostly unexplored. Furthermore, besides being told that the story takes place in an alternate fantasy version of historical London, there was absolutely no world-building.
Finally, there were a few things that not only didn't seem to make sense but that irritated the hell out of me (FYI, some of the following tidbits are spoilerish, so consider yourself warned):
#1. The Dictata is allegedly a powerful organization tasked with the responsibility of watching over and aiding the Keepers, who are the destined protectors of the world. But despite the fact that the Keepers are now being systematically hunted down and assassinated to the point of near extinction, the Dictata does pretty much nothing to stop it. They don't relocate the Keeper families to hidden safe houses. They don't provide them with trained guards. They don't use any of their quickly-advancing technology to setup a security system of some sorts. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Someone obviously didn't read their mission statement.
#2. So, one of the most badass & dangerous demons around is about to make a power play that can potentially bring humanity to its knees, and instead of doing something about it, the Dictata makes the shoddy excuse of not being able to mobilize in time and decides to let four teenagers (one of whom has repeatedly described herself as "not being good at physical things") to devise their own version of Mission Impossible armed with nothing more than a few sickles, a handful of darts and one sword. World, kiss your ass goodbye.
#3. I really did not understand the love triangle that formed in this book. The romance between Helen and Griffin was of the insta-love variety and given the fact that she had just lost her home & family two days earlier and was now essentially running for her life, it seemed forced & unrealistic.
As for her romance with Raum, well that was just outright ridiculous & wholly disturbing. I could never even entertain the idea of having any kind of warm, fuzzy feelings towards someone responsible for the brutal murder of my loved ones. I don't care how sorry he is or what a messed up life he had. There is no justification for something like that, and it's not something I could ever forgive. If I was in Helen's shoes, I'd slit Raum's throat the first chance I had without a moment's hesitation. What does Helen do? She falls in love with the bastard based solely on a hazy memory of having tea parties together at the age of four. Furthermore, she not only completely disregards the fact that he has played a major part in the assassinations of multiple innocent people, but also the fact that just days earlier she professed her undivided love to Griffin.
On top of that, after she expresses her love for Raum, Helen also tells him that she forgives him but that she cannot forgive herself. WTF?! So let me get this straight, he willingly assisted in the complete destruction of her home & family and clearly demonstrated that he didn't care who he hurt just as long as he could undo his own pain & loss, but she's willing to forgive him at a drop of a hat while also drowning herself in guilt on his behalf and for the sake of some twisted love built on absolutely nothing? In what frakked up universe is that supposed to be romantic?
Seriously authors, you need to cut this shit out. Stop reducing adolescent females to the equivalent of Pavlov's dog, making it seem as if all it takes is a hot guy (regardless of who he is or what he's done) to say, "I'm drawn to you; I want to protect you" for a teen girl to automatically lose all conscious control and start salivating all over herself. Ugh!