Strange Angels


Author: Lili St. Crow

Publication: 2009, Razorbill

Pages: 291

Overall Rating: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Rating for Action: bth_45_zps06f87659[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Dru Anderson and her father hunt things that go bump in the night. But when her dad turns into a zombie and tries to eat her, Dru’s life goes from weird to terrifying. Along with new found friend and goth boy, Graves, she’s in a race to survive. But evil creatures are coming out of the woodwork, and Dru doesn’t know why they’re after her or who she can trust.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: St. Crow uses some freaking amazing descriptive language – especially when it comes to describing the snow and cold of a North Dakota winter. Take this bit, for example: “The stairs unreeled under my feet. It was snowing again, big fat flakes whirling down in patterns I didn’t have time to study; they looked like the tribal tattoos on the door, rivers of frozen stars.”

And while there’s no shortage of vampire/zombie hunter books out there, St. crow provides a fresh take on the subject as we learn exactly who and what Dru is – and the unusual nature of her two possible allies. It’s paranormal with a slight but satisfying twist.

What I Liked the Least: St. Crow inserts a LOT of italicized internal thoughts into the text. Some of it works great – especially when Dru hears her Dad’s voice inside her head, urging her on. But a lot of it is just plain repetitive and overdone. It felt particularly onerous when she kept inserting Dru’s thoughts into the same short paragraphs as her dialogue. In almost every case, the dialogue alone – along with the occasional physical action – was all we needed. But we got the internal thoughts anyway. The following is a perfect, and utterly representative, example of what I mean: “Sends his minions. Would they happen to include a burning dog, too? Or was that something else? “What about the burning dog?””

My only other major complaint was that some of Dru’s decisions – especially towards the end of the book – didn’t make a whole lot of sense, even accounting for how stressed out and freaked she was.

How Good was the Action? Most of it is excellent – lots of short sentences and thumping good tension, along with plenty of fist-on-bone action and bullets. The scenes hum along at a razor clip and are just about impossible to put down. Damn good stuff.

The problem is that in a few places it moves too fast. I couldn’t follow what was happening and had to go back, re-read, and try to work out. In one or two cases that proved to be a real challenge. Too fast and too confused to really make sense of. Luckily, those scenes were in the minority and most of it was pretty rocking.

How Engaging was the Story? The tension weaving through Strange Angels is more or less non-stop. Even the quiet moments are filled with desperation and uncertainty. And when the odd moment of happiness does come along, you know it can’t last. Plus, Dru’s got the kind of voice that gets under your skin. Scary as her world is, it’s hard not to throw yourself into it.

Overall Assessment: A cool read, pimped out with beautifully descriptive language, a new take on the vampire hunter story, and some seriously awesome fight scenes. While it is hampered by overuse of Dru’s internal dialogue, and some of the fights are so fast it’s hard to follow what’s going on, those are relatively minor complaints in an otherwise rollicking good book.

Profanity: Yes and lots of.

Sex: Some mild references to nudity and appreciating a cute face or hard body.

Violence: Absolutely. Dru suffers a lot more nasty bruises than actual blood, but it does flow. And the descriptions of her re-animated dad are pretty gruesome.

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