Jazz's Reviews > Strange Angels

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
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's review
Jul 07, 2009

liked it
Recommended for: Those who want a strong heroine and want to read characters depicted as humans, not stereotypes
Read in July, 2009 , read count: 1

Lili writes emotionally charged scenes that are not over the top, which immersed me in the story. She is skilled at breaking down gender stereotypes to depict the characters as what I call "just people." Scenes where characters appear as "just people" are scenes where race and gender don't come into play because the characterization is about them as human beings. When a girl pulls a gun on a guy, we expect the guy to call her bluff. In Strange Angels, we don't see that. Lili shows us emotions without masculine or feminine stereotypes getting in the way. She shows us fear we can feel from both sides of the trigger, and the emotional strength it takes to pull it or not.

This isn't to say that the entire book is genderless in characterization entirely; it isn't and I wouldn't want it to be.

Initially, I was skeptical about Strange Angels. The tagline promoting the sequel, "Will Dru discover just how special she really is?," did not give me any confidence that this was going to be anything but a YA paranormal romance with a blase Mary Sue. I was pleasantly surprised when Dru turned out to be exactly what she should be: the product of an upbringing in which she is motherless and accompanies her father into supernatural territory on what are most likely suicide missions.

Dru is uncouth; she says "goddamn" and belches as often as she pleases. She may be an amateur, but she doesn't curl up in a ball when evil knocks on her door. She does something about it. Dru is an interesting girls. She even has interests of her own; drawing! Yes, dear readers, this is not a girl who is desired by the entire school body despite hating everyone and everything. Dru doesn't get a lot of attention at school, and she doesn't try to. With the paranormal hunting her down, she has real things to worry about.

In regards to her drawings, I'd like to see her depicted as someone with an artist's eye. I appreciate the fact that she has a personality underneath that rough exterior, but I don't see it in action. At one point Dru says she can probably describe all of the places she has lived in terms of the way light and shadows hit her different bedroom ceilings. Probably doesn't make me believe in her ability to do so. I want her to show me that attention to detail in her astounding, daily life.

In addition to a strong female lead, Lili delivers a solid supporting male character in Graves. A cute half-asian boy who is afraid he is becoming a werwulf, Graves offers comic relief in the presence of Dru's serious business attitude. He plays a lot of roles throughout the story including the maybe-hopefully-boyfriend and the voice of reason for Dru whose life is bereft of role models.

I found Graves to be the most interesting character in the book. We learn just enough about his past and every day life to become intrigued and wonder what it was that got him to where he is, and how his history will affect his choices now that he knows about the existence of paranormal beings.

Though, I think dangerous ground is tread when Dru describes Graves as a "half-breed," and thinks it is good that Graves "hadn't drawn the really slit-eyed card a lot of half-breeds have to play." Maybe some racially mixed people like the shape of their thin eyes, Dru.

Strange Angels is well-paced with a balance of action and down time for most of the story. Around page 200, however, there is a lull that dragged on far too long for me. I've noticed this in many novels that near the climax. The characters finally begin to make sense of the crazy things that have been happening to them, then proceed to spend chapters wondering when the evil is coming, what it wants, why is it after us, let's consult the books, maybe make a few phone calls, is the evil hear yet let's wait. So the final confrontation gets crammed into one chapter that only serves to offer a little more back story and a set-up for the next installment in the series.

In the end, Lili shows us more of her skill at depicting the human condition after the shock of terrible events and ushers in a new setting that will bring more exciting and dangerous adventures, and continue the quest for revenge and retribution, to the lives of her characters.

I am excited about the sequel, Betrayals, which is being released this November. It is likely to be an entirely different animal from Strange Angels with limitless directions that story could take.

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Reading Progress

07/01/2009 page 150

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