ARC Review: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso

Paperback: 263 Pages

Series: Angel Sight #1

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC

Find on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can’t admit to seeing?

~Contains spoilers!~

Let my start by saying I have a  serious case of cover lust! Pretty, so very pretty.

On to more serious stuff, like Rayna’s mental disease. The MC of A Shimmer of Angels can see angels. She had the hallucinations for a long time, but a 3 year-long stint in a mental facility cured her. Doc Graham, her psychiatrist, assures her she is in remission and well enough to go home. The problem?  Queue in three months later, after she’s already made a good friend, Lee, and gotten a job as a waitress in a diner, she sees another angel. Only this hallucination proves inescapable as she imagines it/him, Cam, going to her school.

Rayna is such an interesting and well written MC. After being stuck in the hospital for so long, she’s skittish, jumpy and terrified her illness might come back. A very sweet, gentle, yet strong character. At the beginning of the book, she actually comes across as batshit crazy, which is such a refreshing new take when it comes to a YA heroine.

Her best friend, who is, coincidentally, her only friend, has no idea Rayna was/is sick or that she was hospitalized for it. This makes for a fun and easy-going relationship between the two; their banter is so normal, friendly and funny, it reads real and I can’t help but wish their relationship was explored more in the novel.

The characterization is pretty much non-existent for secondary characters, like, say, angel boy Cam, but it’s really well done for Rayna and Kade. She’s smart, tries to be as logical as she can be in extreme situations, she even keeps track of the number of angels she’s ever seen, inside her closet on the back panel, like a convict might keep track of the days passed.

Actually, I’d go as far as saying Basso treats her main character cruelly. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Rayna, does indeed, see angels. Before coming to this realization, she’s terrified she might be getting sick again, a cold fear that’s so well described and put into words, it makes you feel so sorry for her. After she understands the truth, she really starts going crazy because of all the scary, uncontrollable things happening around her. Cruel, see? But it creates such a different and novel premise/heroine. In other words, it’s awesome!

Also, teen angst? Well, as long as there’s the possibility ( in her head, anyway) of being actually bonkers, then it’s not angst. It’s real fear and I say bring it on.

The other fleshed out character is Kade, the Dark One.  He is crazy. Unhinged. Weird. Dangerous. And totally hot. Plus, unlike Cam who sounds like your garden variety teenager, Kade actually sounds like an old soul.

The rest of the characters are sketched out but that’s about it. Not even her family, the dad and the sister, aren’t that present in the book.

The angel lore is handled well and ties up in nicely with the plot, the string of murders in her highschool. There are a lot of questions that remain unanswered, starting with what the heck is Rayna and ending with what the heck is Rayna, but I’m assuming they’ll be answered in the second installment of the series.  To be honest, even though I would have liked an answer while reading, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Knowing what she could do was enough to be able to follow the storyline without any difficulties. There are a couple of hints to what she might be, but that’s it.

The book is uneven in that it has such a promising start, a rocky middle in which Rayna handles a couple of things very badly, and an unexpected ending but an engaging one nevertheless.

The writing’s alright. It flows smooth and easy, it’s well structured and edited and it’s funny. A Shimmer of Angels is a very funny and light read, which is not to say it’s fluff because it’s not. There’s perfect blending between the fun parts of the novel and the heartbreaking, dark parts. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Of course, my biggest problem was the almost-s0rt of-maybe love triangle. No! Cam? Cam’s a cookie cutter, almost non present, cardboard cut out who must obey the rules – rules that clearly indicate he can’t be with Rayna . All the while, Kade’s awesome. Fun, sarcastic, saving her ass at every turn. Sure, there’s the slight problem that he dated her mom but, come on, don’t you people watch Gossip Girl? That’s totally a non issue.

Despite its flaws, I really liked Basso’s book, most definitely going to read the next book in the series, too.

*I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. That in no way influenced my review

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4 thoughts on “ARC Review: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso

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