Angel Eyes – A Review

I rarely do reviews apart form blog tours, but from time to time, I make an exception. Angel Eyes is one, and I am so, so happy with that decision. Angel Eyes, officially releasing tomorrow, is the debut novel by Shannon Dittemore.

If you frequent Speculative Faith, Shannon’s name may well sound familiar. Besides being an occasional commenter there, she wrote last Friday’s guest post.

    The Review

The Story. Brielle, short for Gabrielle, is a talented dancer. An opportunity arose for her to study in the city and pursue what she hoped would be her dream job, but tragedy forced her to return to the shelter of her home.

Now, back in the little town where she grew up, she meets Jake, and he helps her to see the world through different eyes. Some of what she sees is glorious, but then there is the sticky black tar of fear. And danger.

OK, I’m keeping it cryptic because I don’t want to spoil the story. The action unfolds like a rose, each petal pushing outward a little at a time until the whole flower is in view. I have no intention of taking your corsage and yanking the petals apart.

Strengths. What isn’t a strength in this book? The language is beautiful, the setting poignantly realistic. The characters are authentic, down to their fears and sacrifices, their motives and heartaches, their hopes and struggles. There is such gentle (the flower image comes to mind again) character development–believable, gradual change that’s revealed through action.

Speaking of action, there’s plenty of it. Some is anchored in the mundane world of the every day, and that is typically teen and interesting. Most of the action, however, involves the interconnection of the here and now with the eternal. I guess you’d have to call this a spiritual warfare book.

That being said, this is one God-glorifying story, consistent with the Bible. It is faithful to Scripture whenever Scripture speaks of such things as you’ll find between the covers of this book.

At the same time, Angel Eyes is imaginative and unpredictable. About the time I thought I knew what the issues were, like Brielle, I found out things weren’t as they appeared to be.

Yes, there is tragedy and sadness and a look at hard things. As both Brielle and Jack acknowledge, sometimes the hero doesn’t make it. But this book faces the hard parts and asks the harder questions. No easy answers here, but thoughtful, truthful ones.

Weaknesses. I don’t really have anything for this section. The worst thing I can say is, the parts from Brielle’s point of view are written in first person, present tense.

Generally I find that voice annoying, and I thought at first this book would be all about teen angst like so many young adult books seem to be these days. It’s sort of the flip side of chick lit–same tense and person but the snarky, flippant tone has been replaced with the cynical, fatalistic tone of youth that has grown up too fast.

In truth the beginning of Angel Eyes had a bit of that tone, but there was more lurking around the edges. In addition there were occasional chapters from other characters’ points of view that gave a different voice. I appreciated the change. And as the story unfolded, Brielle’s voice mirrored her character development. It was masterful. (I told you I didn’t really have anything in “weakness.”)

Recommendation. I hope Frank Peretti endorses Shannon’s next book. He should. She is marvelously contributing to the supernatural/spiritual warfare genre he established with the Darkness books years ago.

Although this book is directed at young adults, all-the-way-grown-up adults can enjoy it just as well. A must read for Christians. I highly recommend Angel Eyes to anyone who loves a good story.

One last thing: keep your eyes on Shannon. I have a feeling you’re going to be hearing a lot about her from now on.

And yes, the publisher provided me with an advance reader’s copy of the book, though I made no agreement to give a favorable review. That was solely my decision.

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Published in: on May 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. Agreed! I loved this book and couldn’t put it down! I’m so excited that it’s a trilogy and that it was portrayed angels in a biblical way. So cool!

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  2. See, that’s saying A LOT coming from you, Jill.

    I hadn’t realized it was a trilogy until after I finished the book. And the thing was, it was a completely satisfying ending, with one major open question, but not one that robbed this book of its power. I like that, just as I like trilogies that are three books telling one story such as Lord of the Rings or your Darkness trilogy (Blood of Kings? My mind isn’t cooperating this morning. 😉 ) It’s the books that make me think I’m reading a complete story only to find critical questions won’t be answered until the next book or the next that aren’t my favorite.

    So, yea! More Brielle and Jake and probably Marco and Canaan to enjoy in the future.

    Becky

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  3. […] It’s not my favorite. I’ve tried to figure out why, and the main things that come to mind are moot points if the technique is executed well (see review for Shannon Dittemore’s Angel Eyes). […]

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  4. […] fiction. Take Frank Peretti, author of This Present Darkness, a point of comparison for Angel Eyes in this blog (at the end of the post). That name-dropping was supposed to be encouraging, but I’ve actually […]

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  5. […] Twilight? See why I disagree with those reviewers? You can read my much more accurate and truthful review to counterbalance these scurrilous attacks deviant claims contrasting […]

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  6. […] in my Day 1 post for this tour, I was fortunate enough to have received Angel Eyes earlier, so reviewed it then. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to recommend the book and […]

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