Jenna Samuels is about to turn fifteen. It's been almost a year since her stoner brother, Casey, bit the dust. Almost a year since he returned as her guardian angel, along with his "angel boss," Amber Velasco, the hot twenty-something former EMT. Almost a year since Casey and Amber used up their one-time-only angel power of flight to save Jenna from the evil Dr. Renfroe, swooping down to catch her as she tumbled off the balcony at the Houston Galleria. In short, a lot of A-word shenanigans and a mostly happy ending.
Except now Casey's begun to wonder why he's still hanging around—not that he minds protecting Jenna. She's a handful, but there's got to be a bigger picture, right? Something to distract him from his on again/off again, doomed relationship with cheerleader Lanie Phelps, who has no idea her boyfriend is, well, dead. After all, he can't use his angel wings anymore. Neither can Amber.
Enter Bo Shivers, Amber's "angel boss"—a mysterious A-word guy Jenna and Casey didn't even know existed. Whiskey-guzzling. Handsome in a grizzled way. Unpredictable. Okay, make that crazy. Bo lost his angel wings in an earthly flight a long, long, long time back—and he's been a thorn in Angel Management's side ever since. But Bo knows something is coming. Something big. Something that was worth forfeiting wings for Jenna... something that might just change everything for everyone.
Preface: I read a lot of YA novels., both paranormal and contemporary. I don’t know why the genre appeals to me as much as it does, I just go with it and eat them up like popcorn at the movies. Some authors nail the narrator voice perfectly, some sound like adults that are trying too hard to throw teen-slang in there to sound relevant. In THE A-WORD, Jenna’s voice – both in her thoughts and dialogue – is spot on.
I’ve got two boys – 17 and 20 – and throughout reading this book, and the first in the series, it felt like I’d gone back to those early high school days with them and were listening to their friends tell me a story. I’m still trying to decide if this was a good thing. Yes, the author nailed the voice, but at the same time, it made for oppressive reading at times. I grew weary of references to her “signature look” or “signature jeans” and to the incessant reminders of her brother’s weed habit and the time she walked into his room and found him in a compromising position.
Voice aside, I have to applaud THE A-WORD for frustrating me. It’s a common pitfall in YA land when the hero or heroine is faced with mystery or decisions. So often, the author will forget that teenagers, for the most part, are reckless and quick to rush in…pardon the pun…where angels fear to tread. They employ an adult’s caution. Not in this book. Jenna is rash, quick to anger and even quicker to jump to conclusions that aren’t always the right ones. Did I want to shake her? Of course. At the same time, her actions were true to her 15 year old self.
I loved finding out more about Bo and Amber, about the bigger mystery carried over from This Sweet Dead Life, and new addition Ryan just added to the richness of the supporting characters. He was seriously wonderful and reminded me a lot of my sons at that age. And for all the frustrations, Jenna broke my heart a little, too. Her brother Casey did, too.
I’m sure to pick up the third in the series when it comes out. For all the repetitive phrasing about signatures and weed, I’m intrigued by the mystery and pulled in by the still-unanswered questions.
- The Sweet Dead Life
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