Who is Astrid Kreiger? One of those people who you really should hate, but somehow manages to create her chaos with enough style and chutzpah that you admire her in a way. At least, that’s what Iserson wants her to be - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
She reminds me in a way of Cher from Clueless, and of course by extension, Emma. They have the same rich obliviousness and assumptions about life always going their way. But where Cher and Emma are basically good hearted, Astrid is far more negative a character, one that does deliberate harm to others without caring.
The book starts with Astrid having recently been kicked out of her preppy private boarding school and back home with her family. She doesn’t like her family and she doesn’t like the public school they make her go to. She doesn’t even really like the private school she’s obsessed with getting back to. What does she like? Besides being sarcastic and superior to everyone? That’s the real journey in the book - Astrid getting over her detachment and joining the rest of the world. That’s also where the book loses some steam. Astrid goes a little too quickly from being completely self-involved to caring about her collection of misfits.
And that’s why this book doesn’t get a higher score from me. There’s a lot of humour and laugh out loud points, but there isn’t much heart or emotional truth to her transformation. The relationship between Astrid and her grandfather comes the closest to feeling real, but isn’t enough to hold the core of this story together.
If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be inoffensive. I was looking for a quick, fun read and that’s what it delivered. What it didn’t deliver was a world that I wanted to immerse myself in or characters that I wanted to get to know better.
There are two viewpoint characters - Ebony, our lovely young angel, and Jordan, our troubled young human. Ebony doesn’t have much of a personality, which is a trait that all of the angels share. Despite being a major player, we don’t learn much about Thane beyond that he is totally awesome. Duh. And most of the others are nothing more than a name. Jordan and the other humans fare a bit better, with less mystery and more back story. I didn’t actually mind the love triangle in this book, which is unusual, as I generally abhor them. Everyone’s role was clearly set out, and there wasn’t any uncertainty over who Ebony wanted.
I’ve been trying to figure out where the book lost me, and I think it was in the build up. The threat didn’t seem dangerous enough and the good side was so overpowered. The final battle seemed to come out of nowhere, as the main conflict earlier was getting Ebony to realize the truth. It was especially anticlimactic considering the roles that out protagonists played (or lack thereof). I think I would have enjoyed the book more if Ebony had had a chance to learn of her power and her place in this changed world so that she could be something other than a damsel in distress. That would also have given a chance to get more of a feel for the relationships between the angelic characters.
In general I think this book suffers from trilogy-itis. There’s a good concept, but Curley was holding back for the rest of the series, leaving this book to feel like a prologue. We have the players set up, but there wasn’t enough substance to hold it all together.