Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso is a new book coming out this week, January 29th 2013. Do you think this book is something you’ll want to pick up? Check out my book review, below.
A Shimmer of Angels Book Summary
In this compelling and spirited debut novel, 16-year-old Rayna Evans has spent the last three years in a mental institution for seeing angels—intent on remaining free, she ignores signs that she may be slipping into a world she has tried to climb out of.
When her hallucinations begin showing up at school, can she keep her sanity and prevent students from dying at the hands of angels she cannot admit to seeing? Psychiatry, fantasy, and realism come together here in a story of a young girl struggling with identity, secrets, and confronting her greatest fears.
A Shimmer of Angels Book Review
I do not want to seem trite when saying this, but… I found the cover to be absolutely gorgeous. Don’t you think so, too? Unfortunately that is probably the best part of the entire book. So the saying is definitely true, here. “Never judge a book by the cover.”
Reading the book summary, I was absolutely intrigued by the thought that this teenager Rayna would be dealing with the experience having been in a mental institution for seeing angels. Now that she is returning to a normal life of being a teenager and going to school, things take an unexpected turn when the angels show up and students start dropping dead from apparent suicides.
I felt that Rayna was an incredibly unlikeable character and believe me when I say, my dislike of her had nothing to do with her label. It was her ridiculously weak-minded, neurotic, self-absorbed, and overly clumsy personality. If you thought Bella from Twilight was stupidly clumsy, she has nothing on Rayna from A Shimmer of Angels. I could barely read a few pages without her falling down, falling out of her chair, bumping into someone, spilling coffee, breaking plates, and over all being a complete idiot.
Rayna’s best friend, Lee, befriends the new kid at school which – ding ding ding – is an angel. His name is Camael aka “Camel” or “Cam”. I imagine he was based on the rouge angel by the same name. I felt that if Lisa M. Basso was going to incorporate actual mythology into her book, then she should have provided more history within the novel that she was writing. But I think she must have chosen Cam simply based on the fact that even Wikipedia doesn’t say much.
Cam is likable, although a bit boring. It’s apparent he has feelings for Rayna, which is annoying. Rayna has this habit of having all the boys fall in love with her, yet she is the most idiotic boring character I think I have ever read about. She has absolutely nothing to bring to the table. Nothing. Furthermore, why does SHE get the gift of seeing angels and “saving the world”?
*Bites my knuckles.*
Since Rayna is trying to be normal, she starts a job at a local hangout/diner. You have your stereotypical diner women working there including the token “full of life” waitress that acts like she has been there and done that. I found it insulting when Rayna described her as being pretty old, only to guesstimate that she must be in her late 20s. Excuse me? Pssh.
Rayna meets Kade, a dark-winged angel (aka a “Fallen”) and he is the only remotely multidimensional character in the entire book. Of course Kade was handsome (as was every other boy in the book) and everyone loves him. Heck I loved him even though I disliked the book. He is the “bad boy”, but I never remotely even got an inkling impression that he was bad, even though the color of his wings would say otherwise.
A Shimmer of Angels Doesn’t Make Sense
- Why was she in a mental health facility for three years even though she was not a danger to herself or others? When I wrote a review on the book January First written by Michael Schofield, they struggled on a daily basis to get their daughter to stay in the facility. Jani was both a danger to herself AND others to epic proportions. This is just how it is with the mental health system in the US. Yet Rayna (with no real back information about her history with the angels and what drove her to the schizophrenic diagnosis) gets to stay and receive help for three years? Somebody hasn’t done her research.
- Rayna has been seeing angels for years, but what drove her to the diagnosis? There was no real discussion about why she was in a mental institution. You don’t get admitted simply for seeing things.
- Rayna has a best friend, Lee. I don’t know how she has a best friend already when she has just exited out of the institution? Sometimes when describing her friend Lee, it sounds like they have known each other a long time (but that he knows nothing of her 3 year stint in “S.S. Crazy”.) I am very confused.
On another note, Lisa M. Basso referred to the clinic as “S.S. Crazy” one too many times. It felt like she had a complete lack of respect for anyone within the mental institution; a lack of respect for the system, the mental health crisis, or the patients themselves. A Shimmer of Angels does nothing to repel stereotypes.
From about 30% on, I kept checking to see if I was almost done with the book because I was so over it. I just couldn’t put it down because reading it was like standing on the sidewalk, witnessing a head on collision. You just can’t look away. You want to but you can’t.
And so I conclude with this — admire the book for what it is; a beautiful shell with nothing inside. It’s hours out of my day that I can not get back, even if I tried. (And I apologize for the obvious disorganization of my review but my thoughts are so everywhere on this book that I am having a hard time putting them to print.)