Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Genre: YA, paranormal romance
Publication Date: August 21, 2012 (North America – Macmillan)
Source: Publisher review copy
Summary: Bethany, an angel sent to Earth, and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier, have been to Hell and back. But now their love will be put to its highest test yet, as they defy Heavenly law and marry. They don’t tell Beth’s archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, but the angels know soon enough, and punishment comes in a terrifying form: the Sevens, who are rogue angels bent on keeping Beth and Xavier apart, destroying Gabriel and Ivy, and darkening angelic power in the heavens.
The only way Bethany and Xavier can elude the Sevens is to hide in the open, and blend in with other mortals their own age. Gabriel and Ivy set them up at college, where they can’t reveal their relationship, and where there is still danger around each corner. Will Bethany be called back to Heaven – forever – and face leaving the love of her life?
☆: 2/5 stars – wraps up the series, but could have been a lot better.
Review: Oh wow. Okay, guys, just a warning: this one is all over the place. If anything, it wasn’t really the neat, tied-up package I was hoping for, but it felt a little over-crammed full of sub-plots and dogma, not-so-subtle misogyny, endorsing the purity myth, and self-righteousness. Yet, oddly enough, it addresses some of the more confusing pieces of the Christian mythology (a lot of contradictory things that go on in Heaven itself, etc), which I liked a lot. I’ll go more into all of this later, but I really don’t know how to put my finger on this one as it just is kind of…messy. And anti-climactic. Nevertheless, it finishes off the series, so if you’ve been reading up until this point, you may as well finish it. While I can’t say “Heaven” is one of the most amazing pieces of YA I’ve ever read (not even close), it was entertaining enough to pass the time.
Okay, so…yeah. In the vein of “Hush, Hush”, “Fallen” (which I initially liked, before it all kind of went downhill) “Twilight”, the level of co-dependency in the character relationships here (which is only kind of addressed once toward the end, and not even in a serious manner) is really, REALLY unhealthy. You get married, you haven’t even known each other three years, and you literally believe that you can’t live without each other. While in the technical area of things, this co-dependency between characters makes for great tension, I can’t say there’s a whole lot of character development as a result. Not until the last fifty pages of the book, and by then, I was just kind of too tired to care.
Now, let’s talk about the purity myth. While it’s still addressed here in the sense of slut shaming (Beth at college/frat parties/etc), it doesn’t really do well to dispel the idea that a girl is worth more than her virginity or looks. In fact, the whole “Beth and Xavier at college” portion of the book reinforces it. It made me incredibly sad to read, and it’s another area of the book giving YA the unhealthy message of how to measure one’s self-worth. On misogyny – as it’s pretty strongly connected to the purity myth/slut shaming going here, it’s pretty strong in this book, with the most overt example of Molly and Wade’s relationship – at least it’s made clear that it’s a very abusive one, both physically and mentally. But Molly can’t get out of it on her own – she needs Gabriel to do it for her. I have a problem with that. Molly isn’t strong enough to do it, she needs a man to do it for her. There’s even Wade talking about how women are full of sin because of Eve. The author at least has our angels tell him he’s wrong about that, but it’s a bit too little, too late. The damage from the imagery is already done, the message delivered.
This book is kind of all over the place, as I said before, in terms of plots and sub-plots. Xavier and Beth are on the run for getting married, but the author also starts talking about the Seven and Beth’s friend Zach, and a whole lot more Christian/angel mythology that just kind of got confusing. Plus, death and Lucifer make an appearance, which added to the confusion. Lucifer in Xavier’s body did help with the tension and did help a bit with character development for Beth, and a bit for Gabriel, but not as much as it should have been considering where we are in the final book of this series. The only thing that was really well done here was the worldbuilding – we finally get a look at what Heaven looks like through the author’s eyes, and it’s done really well. But the rest? It’s just kind of a mess that needed at least one or two more drafts in order to organize the sub-plots a bit better.
Overall, this book is messy, but it’s entertaining. I wasn’t bored, but I did roll my eyes quite a bit at the overuse of cliches that were rampant throughout the text. One or two more drafts/editorial passes were badly needed on the ARC I got, and hopefully by the time this hits stores, will get.
Final verdict? If you’re still reading this series or if you’re a fan, you may as well read “Heaven”. The pace is fast and time will fly when you’re reading it, and it’s an entertaining summer read. But that’s about all the good I can say for it. “Heaven” will be out August 28th from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out then.