Full review can be found here
The first thing that struck me about this book upon completion of it is that the prologue and the epilogue are separate from the story itself. For one, they’re narrated in the first person by Emily herself at some unknown time in her life and they’re in the present tense. Well, most of the prologue is anyway. Part way through it slips into the past tense for a while for no discernible reason before going back to the present tense. They also don’t really make sense with what information we glean from the story. In both, Amy is disillusioned with her life as an angel but we encounter nothing in the book that would explain why she has become so disillusioned. As such, I felt that they stuck out: they didn’t make sense in the context of this story and though there are hints that we may come to understand her feelings better after the next book, there could potentially be an infinite number of books, or ‘lives’, before Emily gets to this present.
The main body of the story is presented as Emily reading about herself – one of her human lives. As an angel, she gets sent to live out a human life that ended before its time but there’s a catch: once she’s sent to live a new life, she doesn’t remember the old one. So the stories of the angels' human lives are recorded in books for them to read. Until Next Time is about Emily’s first mission to live among the humans.
On Earth, she is forced to come to terms with human emotions and she has no memories of her angelic self. For all intents and purposes, she is Liz – a young Irish woman at the turn of the 19th century. The other half of her angelic team, Matt the warrior, is also there but because their memories have been wipes, they don’t remember each other.
Liz runs the local pub with her friend, Faith. When two strangers beg for shelter during a storm, both of their lives are turned upside down. The strangers turn out to be two young men, Charles and Jason, who very conveniently turn out to be romantic interests for Faith and Liz. This is where the book doesn’t just touch on one of my personal pet peeves but really chucks it in the reader’s face. I’m not fond of love at first sight at the best of times but in this case it happens to four characters at once and I just didn’t buy it at all.
What’s more, Matt was also presented as a romantic interest. Of course, he’d grown up with Emily and they’d spent all their time together in training. I can understand where feelings came from in this case even if I’m not shown the evolution of them – not that I’m shown the evolution of them with Jason either; they just suddenly sprouted there.
I never really knew which of the two men in Emily/Liz’s life I was supposed to be rooting for. I still don’t. Honestly, I didn’t really like either of them all that much. I found Matt to be hypocritical when he gets high and mighty because Emily went and fell in love with a human but he did exactly the same thing. And Jason never grew as a character beyond his love for Liz and his willingness to take things at her pace even though he wants more from her (because he fell in love with her the moment he met her and wanted to marry her, as Charles and Faith did, but she held back).
Another thing that left me unable to appreciate Jason as a romantic interest was the whole thing with Angela. (view spoiler)[It was far from romantic. Especially as Jason admits that he never stopped loving his angel. It’s… I don’t know, I feel like Angela deserved more. Every woman deserves to be loved completely by her partner and Jason couldn’t possibly love Angela completely because he still loved Liz. (hide spoiler)]
All in all, neither of the males really appealed to me and I didn’t buy the relationship between Liz and Jason, so the romance aspect of the book didn’t work for me.
I liked the ideas behind the angels, though, and how they worked by taking on a life that was destined for more but the human soul left the shell too soon. It seemed a little weird to me that they didn’t really meet any other angels while they were rushing around Heaven. Other than the well-known saints, that is. Maybe in future books, hey? The saints and archangels that were around were all fun characters very different from how I tend to picture them myself. I thought it was a great twist to give them a sense of humour!
The portrayal of Heaven was original as well, if a little confusing at times. Ok, so it was the wands in the lightning room that confused me. I don’t know what happened, whether I zoned out as their explanation was given (very possible) or what. Despite this, I did like how Heaven worked and the scenes where the angels were brought back to Heaven were a good breather from the scenes down on Earth.
Obviously, this being a book about angels, it has a significant religious aspect. My only problem with this is that it sometimes becomes so Christian that it ostracises readers of other religious beliefs. There are some parts that are particularly preachy and I’d find myself zoning out each time. It could just be the Christian fiction I’ve read but I’ve found that each time there’s a passage that could be construed as insinuating that I, as a non-Christian, should be pitied because I don’t happen to believe in the Christian God. I realise that the author is American and that society’s view of religion is very different there, but I find it insulting when it is implied that I should need to turn to someone else’s deity to live my life right.
Other than this, I enjoyed the book well enough and the epilogue has piqued my interest enough for me to want to read the next book. Maybe then I’ll figure out whether I’m supposed to be rooting for the angel or the human!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>