Review of A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received A SHIMMER OF ANGELS by Lisa M. Basso from NetGalley.
While reading reviews of other angel books, I noticed more and more readers were being put off by this fascination with angels in recent YA literature. As an author who has written several books with angels (Adult, not YA), this has certainly upset me. In my quest to figure out why readers are automatically putting angel books in their Do Not Read pile, I’ve taken up reading other books with angels in them. Now I’m starting to understand the new trend to ditch the angel books.
A SHIMMER OF ANGELS has a fascinating premise. I was particularly interested to see how Basso would deal with the mental illness the main character, Ray(na), had. It’s always bothered me when a character finds out about the supernatural in a book and doesn’t question their sanity. Not just question it as a throw-off line, but REALLY question it. I was completely on board with Ray thinking she was insane. Totally. However, the author clearly didn’t do her research into the establishment and procedures of mental institutions. From personal experience with a dear friend, it’s hard to have someone committed, even when they SHOULD be. Despite this flaw, I continued reading.
Ray, for understandable reasons, is a bit skittish, but it’s to the point that it’s annoying. She’s jumpier than a pedophile in a bear costume at a kid’s birthday party. On top of that, her friendship with Lee was never really established. His part in this story was more of a subplot that could have easily been replaced with another subplot that had more to do with the angels and their background. The story would have been fine without Lee’s character.
Insta-love with new angel boy at school, Cam(ael), stumbled out of the gate and later fell so flat I’m sure an iron–or an anvil–was involved. Basso does well with “showing not telling” in her writing. However, forcing Ray’s emotions caused the supposed love connection with Cam to be a spectacular flop. He did nothing to win her affections, and when she needed him–was literally calling out for help–he turned around and walked away. Just left her without a second glance. Mind=blown. WHAT? I find Cam’s character to work well as an angel who isn’t allowed human emotions, which is why there was NO CONNECTION between the two characters. None. So while Ray is all “feeling” these emotions between them, the reader is left scratching their head, wondering why.
Of course there is a weird little love triangle in this book (isn’t there always?). “Bad boy” Kade is a Fallen angel who isn’t really all that bad. HE is the reason this book is receiving two stars. His character was the most fascinating and intriguing. What I don’t understand is why Ray treated Kade so terribly. He broke her out of the mental health facility when Cam walked away, he took care of her, flew for her (which apparently is precious, and an angel can only fly so many times–don’t understand this), and risked his life for hers. So WHY does Ray even give Cam a chance later? *shakes head* It made no sense.
Okay, okay. At this point, I’m trying to understand how such a fascinating premise with all kinds of possible plots (especially at the beginning with the suicides) turned out to be such a let-down.
The plot was iffy and a bit ridiculous, I was left with more questions than answers, most of the characters were simplistic to downright insubstantial, and Basso clearly failed to do her research. Even though this book was received from the publisher via NetGalley, which means it’s an ARC and is not the final draft, the grammar, punctuation, and bizarre prose was horrendous. As an author, one should know where to place commas and what the differences are between perfect and simple past tense. It actually amazes me that this story was picked up by an agent and/or publisher with that many errors, let alone get through 1st pass. (Examples: distain instead of disdain was used several times; bore instead of bored was used often, even though the chapter was written in past tense; commas where periods should be, commas where they shouldn’t be, and no commas where they should be.) I really hope this book reaches an editor before publication. On top of that, I’m not impressed with the poor graphic design on the cover. Since the author has nothing to do with that, I can’t hold it against her. Still, there is no creativity, and the artist probably slapped it together in an afternoon.
In conclusion, I was wholly not impressed with this book nor would I recommend it. I just hope readers understand that not ALL angel books follow this same plot path. I also hope major revisions are made before this hits print. Books in the YA genre, in particular, should use proper grammar because they’re more of an example to young people than adults books are.