I want to mentally hi-five Adrienne Kress, because this book, apart from some pacing issues, is exactly the kind of book I anticipate from a YA read. It was so much fun and I’ll admit I had a grin on my face in many places within the story, and was surprisingly gut-punched by the way things turned out in the end.
The story revolves around 16-year old Riley Carver, a young woman living in a small, secluded town with deep religious roots, and a problem of descending angels abducting the residents. It affects Riley directly when the first boy she ever kissed gets abducted, and in the following year, Riley ends up shooting an angel in the face. When the first chapter ended on that note, I thought “Well, this is going to be interesting.”
Riley discovers that the “angel” she shot turns into a human, teenage boy named Gabe who was abducted and went missing over 70 years time, which makes him a “time traveling angel” if you will. Gabe is incredibly self-aware and charming (and it’s not just the priceless one-liners he delivers when Riley ties him up while naked). The two team up to try to figure out exactly what happened, with Riley being more apt to discover if there’s a link to the missing boy she knew and loved. In the meantime, Gabe struggles to connect to the life he lost since his abduction and what he doesn’t remember. This causes a rift between the two in spurts, alongside other matters when Riley realizes there’s something not quite right about Gabe’s being there or his respective identity. Maybe even something that might be connected to her.
I really enjoyed watching the character dynamic in this novel, especially when it was on point for the main characters as well as the secondary ones. I had a clear idea of the motivations and the stakes. Coupled with the humor and natural narrative and interactions, it really pulled me into the story.
Yet the biggest detractor that kept me from rating this higher? Pacing. There were times when the pacing in this novel was incredibly slower than it needed to be in turns, and I could tell that it struggled in trying to deliver the revelations and establish connectivity with the characters in places. But when the connections worked, they worked remarkably well. I kinda wish there were more characters like Riley and Gabe in YA, in that they have flaws, but they’re also likable and funny in that you feel invested in watching not only their interactions and personal trials, but their connection as well.
Overall, I would certainly recommend this as a solid read in YA paranormal/supernatural measures. It’s one of the better reads I’ve had as of late.
Overall score: 4/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Diversion Books.