Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

Title: In the Arms of Stone Angels
Author: Jordan Dane
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 03/22/2010
ISBN: 0373210299

I finished this a few days ago but waited to post the review because I had to stop & kind of chew over what I was going to say about this book. The reason behind that is mostly due to the fact that I had quite a few criticisms with the book but still enjoyed it as a whole. If you don't want to listen to my criticisms (which I will warn you, are a little spoilerish) & just want to know if this is a good read, then I'll just say it right here: it's a good read & I do recommend it for the most part. Now on to the more full review.

Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend--the first boy she ever loved--of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac "White Bird" Henry isn't in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she's pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn't understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she's up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she's as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won't turn her back on him. She's the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret--a "gift" she's kept hidden her whole life.

As far as the plot goes, this had a pretty intriguing hook. This does deal with spirits & ghosts, but rather than just be another "girl sees ghosts & does some sleuthing" type of book, Dane tried to bring in elements of Native American mysticism & work slightly out of the box while still stick to the tried & true trope. (Not that there's anything wrong with the trope- being common does not equal being bad.) This part works out fairly well & Brenna's a nice spunky enough heroine in that she refuses to give up despite a lot of obstacles in her path.

That's where some of my spoiler criticisms come in. A few of the obstacles were far too underdeveloped. After turning in her friend & moving to another state, Brenna supposedly takes up cutting. This is a very huge thing, yet in the book it's very suddenly brought up & very suddenly dropped. We're pretty much given no hint that Brenna does this earlier in the book & after burying her cutting blade, that's really where the mention of the cutting stops. It's not brought up again later, something that I really found hard to believe- especially since Brenna's been given such a hard time by so many people in the town. I would have been happy with a few sentences sprinkled here & there about how Brenna had the temptation to cut or maybe more harassment by the local mean teens about it, but that's not here. For that matter, the way the local bullies discover that Brenna cuts is a pretty traumatic event. I'm not going to list what happened during or immediately after the event, but needless to say it's something that would cause many to curl up into a tiny ball & Brenna bounces back from it a little too quickly & cleanly. I also couldn't help but wish that we'd gotten a little more description about how Brenna learned about her abilities & how she'd dealt with them during her time away- it'd have made her cutting have more of an impact & given us more of an insight into her character.

Elements like these were woefully underdeveloped while other parts such as the Native American elements & her interactions with White Bird are far more fleshed out. It just made for a somewhat uneven reading experience.

I don't want you to think that this was a bad read, though. Despite my criticisms I managed to speed through the book pretty quickly & found it an addictive & easy read. It's something that I'd definitely recommend for you to read, but I'd probably suggest checking it out from the library or borrowing a friend's copy to glance through first. It's no Soul Screamers but it's still well worth reading.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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