Title: Airel [The Airel Saga 1]
Author: Aaron Patterson & Chris White
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: (2.5) 3 Stars
All Airel ever wanted was to be normal, to disappear into the crowd. But bloodlines can produce surprises, like an incredible ability to heal. Then there’s Michael Alexander, the new guy in school, who is impossibly gorgeous…and captivated by her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she can hear the sound of pages turning, and another, older story being written. It is the story of an ancient family, of great warriors, of the Sword of Light, and the struggle against an evil so terrible, so far-reaching, that it threatens everything. Airel knew change would be an inevitable part of life. But can she hold on when murder and darkness begin to close in and take away everything she loves? Will she have what it takes when the truth is finally revealed?
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I desperately wanted to like this book. It had a beautiful cover, an intriguing synopsis, and it was free on Amazon when I picked it up. A few days after I downloaded it, I made the choice to join a book tour for it as well. I probably should have read it first, because I didn’t enjoy this book. Though I’ve given it a 3-star rating, please understand that my opinion falls on the lower end of that rating—and it is just that… my opinion.
From a very technical standpoint, the book was mostly well written. There wasn’t an abundance of grammatical or spelling errors, but there were quite a few punctuation problems, and more than once the POV of the story changed from First Person to Third Person. Unfortunately, the narrative was riddled with probably well-meant words that felt as if they’d been randomly picked up out of a thesaurus and littered throughout the text. At times the narrative was extremely poetic—and while poetic narrative isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in a young adult novel such as this, I found it to be inappropriate for the age range of the targeted reader. Consequently, the descriptions were sometimes hard to follow. There were quite a few times when I had to re-read a line three or four times to grasp what it was describing. The frequent redundancy didn’t help. Here are just a few examples:
Now he poured out his soul once again, drowning it in her grave—and he felt the unjust spitefulness of a life lived in subjection to fallen reality.
There, between the mirror and me, was a moment like ripples in a pond. The girl in the mirror looked defiant and brave, I felt scared but impulsive, and the shard of glass exuded wickedness.
The parasitic exhaust of a hostile organism feeding on its host, giving off its scent in waves of cloud like the spores of a fungus, was ever present. One was consuming and excreting its waste, the other was being consumed and rotting. The connection was both eternal and temporal, both spiritual and physical.
The horizon was jagged rock shining oily coal black, its ridges cantilevered out of the ground at discordant, unharmonious angles, on purpose.
He was dangerous. That was it. Different. Different from anyone else on the planet. And he was unexpected. He was a pleasant surprise, an enigmatic shock, a lightning strike in broad daylight at the center of a high alpine meadow.
I stood and tried to reason, each irrational dream throughout coming as a surprise, comic strangers that couldn’t possibly have issues from my own internal process. I let these apparitions of possibility parade absurdly before me until finally I decided there was only one thing to be done—whatever needed to be done.
The characters themselves were rather lackluster, with the exception possibly being Kimmie, Airel’s best friend. Ariel at times seemed to try and sound smart (particularly with her use of thesaurus words), but in reality she came across as a bit air-headed. She seemed confused at times when she really shouldn’t have been, and other times made quick decisions when more caution should have been warranted. She was quick to jump into a relationship with Michael/Alexander (who, by the way, switched back and forth between the first and second part of his name throughout the text), despite her occasional misgivings. I have to wonder if the author was trying to make it seem as if there was some sort of mystical reason behind why Airel was so drawn to Michael–like some form of love-at-first-sight. Instead, it came across as rushed and flimsy. There was very little interaction between the two teens to support their relationship, and so I found it unconvincing that the two would fall so madly in love in only a few days.
Kimmie on the other hand, though infrequent in the story, was the only character that jumped out at me as being of any worth. She was fiercely loyal to her friend, and I enjoyed her enthusiastic personality. She livened up the otherwise dull scenes with her silliness and boy-crazy demands on Airel.
The main reason I didn’t enjoy this book however, was the lack of plot and slow pacing. There were several chapters laced throughout the book that took place in an ancient past—and though I’m sure they had something to do with the plot, I cannot fathom what. The characters in these chapters were not explained as being related in any way to the present-day part of the story. There was an inordinate amount of backstory being explained, but its relationship to Airel and what was going on in her lifetime wasn’t clear. By the end it felt as if half the book had been wasted on a secondary story without any way to tie it into the main plot. I’m sure that these bits and pieces will be explained farther on in the series, but it definitely slowed down the pace of this novel in a way that was not beneficial to the story. In fact, outside of a date, a high school football game, and a trip to the nurses office… nothing seemed to happen in this book. There was no climax, no quest, no tension-filled battle or drama to suck me into Ariel’s story (or even make me care about her). At most there was a little bit of interest when Airel started to gain some mysterious powers. Any bit of information pertaining to what Airel was or how she was related to the events of the past were completely guesswork on the reader’s part.
The book ended with what I can only guess was meant to be a surprise ending—but even that was ruined by the author’s insistence on describing the scene and the characters in it in the most convoluted and vague way. By the time the big reveal of “who the man in the bed was” came around, I felt like I’d been lied to. The description I was given of this character did not match what I knew of the character throughout the book. It was confusing and unsatisfying.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I hated everything in this book. There were some moments in the narrative that really stuck out as excellent writing. It was unfortunate that they were few and far between. I found the author’s initial description of Airel’s dream sequence at the beginning of the book to be familiar in such a way that I said “Oh! I know this feeling! I’ve had this happen!” It resonated with me in a way that isn’t easy to accomplish. Also, I found the chapters that contained Airel interesting. They were a breath of fresh air in between the slower past-history chapters, and they continued to pull me along through the narrative all the way to the end of the story.
Though I’m not a huge fan of bits and pieces of information thrown into books that can date the narrative—the character’s familiar slang and pop culture references were quirky and fun. I also enjoyed Airel’s very real moments of silliness. They felt natural—like any real teenager would have, and it lightened up the otherwise heady passages of narrative. I’ll even admit to a giggle when Airel admitted her name had often made her the butt of mermaid jokes (‘cause I was totally thinking that already!) These little bits and pieces of interest really popped in the narrative.
I think when it comes down to it the story could have used another go-around with a fresh set of beta-readers to iron out the poetic narrative and ratchet up the tension a bit. I just couldn’t get past all the monologues and in-head over-thinking that seemed to plague most of the characters. It dragged for me. Still, it was a relatively quick read, and I think the author showed some promise. I didn’t love the book and I don’t know how well the style fits the target audience, but the premise is an interesting one. Though it wasn’t for me, I’m sure there will be a good number of readers out there that will enjoy it far more than I did. I suggest you give it your own read-through.
Airel Book Tour
If you’re interested in seeing some other reviews on the story and some more info about Airel, please check out the book tour:
About the Authors
Aaron Patterson is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author of over a dozen novels. He writes hard-boiled thrillers and young adult fantasy. He was home-schooled and grew up in the west. Aaron loved to read as a small child and would often be found behind a book, reading one to three a day on average. This love drove him to want to write, but he never thought he had the talent. He wrote Sweet Dreams, the first book in the WJA series, in 2008. Airel is his first teen series, and plans for more are in the works. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his family.
Chris White is an award-winning author and editor, and is co-author of the Airel Saga with Aaron Patterson. Chris also writes psychological thrillers under the nom de plume Jet Deaver, and has penned some short stories as C.P. White. He blogs occasionally about writing and the journey of the Christian artist at C.P. White Media Blog and lives in Idaho with his family.
Praise for the Book
“This is not your typical fallen angel story. It is one that has left me breathlessly waiting for the next one in the series.” –Sandra Stiles, Amazon review
“A beautifully written and crafted fiction about teenage innocence, faith, loss and love. A must read for teens and adults alike.” –Vincent Zandri, International Bestselling Author of The Remains, The Innocent, and Concrete Pearl
“This was such a unique twist to the common way angels are portrayed…. The struggle between good and evil is the forefront of this great story!” – Courtney, Amazon review
Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.