Angelfire is the first book in the Angelfire Trilogy. The beautiful girl on the cover is seventeen-year-old Ellie, who has begun having nightmares about past lives where she fights reapers. Ellie notices a boy stalking her, but since he’s handsome, she is intrigued. The stalker, Will, turns out to be her immortal guardian, and she turns out to be the Preliator, Latin for “warrior.” Every time she dies, she eventually reincarnates into another human body, but Will has to wait until she’s seventeen to activate her memories and her power.
An uninspired love interest
If you guessed that despite Will’s immortality, he looks about twenty, then kudos. If you thought seventeen, sorry; that’s Twilight (which I liked much more than Manon). Will is the kind of immortal who never bothered over his years to learn the meaning of humor or levity, because (1) how else would a girl know that this guy is ancient and “wise” unless he’s also unfunny? and (2) this reaper threat is serious business. Serious, but not urgent, it seems, since he has to wait for his Ellie, who sometimes bides her time in the reincarnation process and must grow to the ripe age of seventeen before her powers are activated. Since there’s no competing love interest, all that’s keeping the lovebirds apart is Will’s sense of… honor? I’m not completely sure. After a half-twist reveal, though, I suppose I would also feel uncomfortable if they were to become an official couple.
More (unrequited) romance than adventure
Ellie’s girl friend proclaims that girls are hardwired to desire nothing more than a shining white knight, a sentiment that proves unfortunately sincere in Angelfire. However kickass Ellie may turn out as the series progresses, it will remain secondary to her love for Will and his oh-so-noble sacrifices to protect her. This is disappointing.
That is not to say there is no action; though I would distinguish said “action” from “adventure.” There are plenty of fight scenes in which reapers randomly attack and bellow threats while Ellie’s trying to date Will and convince him to do normal teenager stuff. These scenes seem contrived, failing to build any suspense because Ellie and Will are never in real danger. While they accrue battle wounds, those wounds heal quickly because the two have supernatural abilities. The fights serve more as an excuse for the pair to cry out each other’s name and declare their love for each other without actually declaring their love for each other.
An unimaginative story
As I was reading Angelfire, I could not help but fantasize how even smallest touches would have injected the story with more life. Since Ellie is in part a different person every time she reincarnates, why couldn’t she have, for once, not been attracted to Will? Think of all the additional moping Will could do. Or, since Will never knows exactly how long it takes for Ellie to reincarnate, Will could feel bitter towards Ellie. Maybe he could even decide to abandon her. Think of all the additional moping Ellie could do. I don’t mean these suggestions in earnest, just as a warning that this book can prompt meandering thoughts.
Why should you read this book?
The author absolutely nails the young adult experience; perhaps that is why legions of teenagers who have received advanced copies of this book vehemently disagree with me. However, I cannot imagine very many adults who would enjoy this book, and even to a teenage reader, I would recommend looking at the other young adult books that we have reviewed.
Benni received a review copy of this book courtesy of Harper Teen.