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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

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Stephen King
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Heaven (Halo #3) by Alexandra Adornetto

Heaven: Number 3 in series (Halo) - Alexandra Adornetto

While I was pondering over the best way to write this review, a little thought came to me.

 
‘Vanessa, why are you even bothering to review this book? I mean, I know you’ve read the whole trilogy, but you just aren’t the target audience. You aren’t a Christian, for one. You’ve also made clear several times that you don’t enjoy reading about teenage star-crossed and/or supernatural lovers, and you are now into your twenties. So don’t get angry at an author for not catering to your specific tastes!’
 
All of the above is true, Little Thought. However, is it wrong that I just want a romance done well? A supernatural mythos that shows the author isn’t just using Wikipedia as a ‘go-to guy’? Teenage character who actually behave like teenagers? I don’t think it is. Just make Baby Bear’s porridge in book form, and I will be one very happy Goldilocks.
 
Heavenstarts off where Hadesended. That is to say, Xavier and Bethany leaving their graduation ceremony so they can go get married and make their TRUE LOVE official. Our characters clearly have no foresight whatsoever, because the Heavenly forces shook the ground when Xavier proposed. It’s a rather passive-aggressive way of getting your point across, but okay.
 
Bethany and Xavier ignore this warning from up above, and go off to get married. And… ugh, you guys, vomit bags on standby as Bethany convinces the sceptical priest about their TRUE LOVE!
 
This isn’t some teenage crush,” I cut in, worried that he might need more persuading. “You have no idea what we’ve been through to get here. Please, we can’t go another day without belonging to each other in the eyes of the Lord.”

(Page 6)

 
I needed to try harder if I was going to convince him.

 

“It’s God’s will,” I said suddenly, and watched his eyes widen. “He brought us together for a reason. You of all people should know He has a plan for everyone, and this is ours. It’s not for us to question Him, we just want to embrace what He has created between us.”

(Page 6)

 
So Bethany and Xavier get married, with some church helper as their witness, and then, boom. A grim reaper walks into the church. And kills Father Mel. I guess he was going after Xavier, but Bethany throws herself over him, because there’s some strange tenet in angelic law that says: a reaper could never claim a soul while its guardian was watching over it.”
 

So, here’s the situation… Bethany just indirectly killed a priest. She might not have meant to do it, but if she had had just a bit of backbone, Father Mel might still be alive.

 
We are treated to a few paragraphs of purple prose about Father Mel’s soul popping out of his body, how heavenly it looks, etc., then when Gabriel comes in and demands to know what has happened, Bethany’s defence is simply: “We didn’t know it would happen!”
 
 
 
Okay, Bethany? I’ve never taken a Law class in my life, but uh… Imagine you are at Crown Court, charged with manslaughter/felony murder/whatever indirect killing can be classed as. You’ve chosen to represent yourself in court, with no defence lawyer. Do you think all the bad things you’ve done, and your upcoming punishment for them can be overturned by constructing an argument that is essentially repetitions of the phrase: “I didn’t know it would happen! I didn’t expect it to turn out this way!”
 
However, this is what we, the reader, are treated to. Bethany never, ever apologises when it matters. She is horribly selfish throughout this book. When Gabriel and Ivy try to get her into the car so they can drive away and keep her and Xavier safe, what is Bethany’s reaction?
 
“No,” I objected, pulling feebly away from them. “I’m sick of everybody telling us what to do!”

(Page 16)

 
When Ivy is still angry at her, Bethany whines that she wishes her siblings could see what it’s like from her and her true love’s perspective!
 
“I know we’ve made trouble, I said. “And I’ll never forgive myself for what happened to Father Mel, but I don’t understand! This shouldn’t involve anyone but us. We just wanted to be married. Why is that so wrong?”

(Page 18)

 
“That’s not fair,” I protested, and at the same time felt tears threatening to spill. I climbed into the back seat, devastated that our happiness had been shattered so soon.

(Page 18)

 
Maybe Xavier had been rash and impulsive, but that didn’t warrant the damning looks we were getting. What gave my siblings the right to judge us? We shouldn’t have to feel ashamed.

(Page 18)

 
Bethany, this marriage thing is being protested. You had fair warning, if I recall.
 
Exhibit A: The ground shook when Xavier proposed.
Exhibit B: The council of archangels castigated you in Halofor cuddling your preciousXavier.
Exhibit C: True love or not, your love is viewed as such an abomination that somebody was killed over it. Maybe that’s a sign you should break up, and not fawn over how ocean-like his eyes are and how his walnut hair flops over his eyes like a shimmering waterfall. Ahem.
 
Also, around page 24 or so, we are given a basic introduction to the Nephilim. You know, what happens when an angel and a human procreate? They’re considered abominations by God, and apparently it happened a long time ago, but nobody really knows what happened. Oh, you mean just like the vampire pregnancy in Breaking Dawn? (It also seems like everyone in this book has the memory span of Dory from Finding Nemo, because merely 4 or 5 pages after this discussion about the Nephilim, Xavier and Bethany are talking about how many babies they want to have. Oy. Vey.)
 
Anyway, hideously selfish brat who needs a good shake and a slap across the face or two aside, it is then revealed to us that there’s a group of military angels (the Sevens) who are now going to be hunting down Bethany and Xavier. Gabriel and Ivy shut our two lovers in a cosy log cabin in the middle of nowhere for a little while, but it doesn’t work. Why? Because one of the Sevens finds them after Bethany whines about how much she wants to take a walk.
 
Isn’t it funny how Bethany’s life is basically: “Well, something bad COULD happen, but let’s just see how it goes.” And when something bad does happen? “WAAH, I DIDN’T EXPECT IT TO TURN OUT LIKE THIS!”
 
This Seven, by the way, looks like and seems to have the same powers as Slenderman. I apologise in advance.
 
Like others of his kind, this Seven was faceless. His lips and nose blended so seamlessly, it was almost impossible to distinguish them. He had no eyes, just empty sockets covered by a white milky membrane of skin. The perfect contours of his face reminded me of the mannequins I’d seen in department store windows.

(Page 63)

 
Suddenly my thoughts began to blur, sinking like melted butter into bread. I tried but couldn’t shake myself free. The Seven seemed to have me trapped in an invisible vice-like grip.

(Page 64)

 
There’s also this strange, obsessive quality to the writing this time around. It really is as if the writer read all the reviews in which Bethany is criticised for being a weak character, and made sure to bludgeon us across the head with a squeaky mallet with CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT printed all over it! Sorry, Adornetto, but I am not buying that this utter wimp of a character has become so much stronger because of her Hellish ordeals when she’s still so pathetic.
 
Anyway, after Bethany somehow throws a brick like a frisbee (Page 68), and winds up setting the Seven on fire, Ivy comes along, tells her off, and Bethany uses her previously-mentioned ineffable argument of “I didn’t mean to!/I didn’t know it was going to happen like that!”
 
We are then told that this whole affair between keeping Bethany and Xavier apart is in the hands of the angels. God has nothing to do with this. So, I beg, as I have been for the past few books… why not just excommunicate Bethany from the kingdom of Heaven? It would save you a heck of a lot of work. Oh no, she’s told a human that angels exist. Let’s just… send down some archangels to tell her off once and then never come back to check that she’s behaving herself.
 
Ivy then tells Bethany and Xavier that she has enrolled them in a college in Oxford, Alabama (confusingly, referred to as just Oxford, which naturally made me think they’d be taking a plane to England or something), and somehow got them new birth certificates, passports, and… yeah. How in the hell do you get a new passport and birth certificate that quickly? You can’t just say: ‘Oh, I got them.’ They take around 8 weeks to be processed where I’m from, and you could at least have the common courtesy to say they were forged, or something. It explains the time gap, at least.
 
So yes, Bethany and Xavier get the all-American names of Laurie and Ford and enrol in college as brother and sister. Bethany doesn’t like her new roommate, Mary-Ellen, and sticks her nose up in the air at all the partying that goes on in the first few weeks. Let’s not forget in-depth explanations of sororities and fraternities, and how Mary-Ellen and her ilk are so shallow for thinking life revolves around being a scantily-clad house-bunny and partying.
 
Bethany and Xavier sneak away from a party, and go to a nearby forest and initiate sexy-times. Xavier doesn’t have protection. What does Bethany say? Basically: “oh, forget about it!” and then writing-wise, it fades to black.
 
Now, refer back to the point they made about the Nephilim. Cast your minds back to the later books in the Twilight series. In both of these series, our two love interests can’tremain celibate, because we’ve read all about their blossoming romance. There’s nowhere else to go. Now, you can create conflict by showing how sex or pregnancy will have a terrible outcome. (Edward because vampire x human sex is extremely dangerous and results in horrifying demon-children, and Bethany because she will probably reproduce Nephilim.) However, it still leaves you in the same place… so what’s the point, really? The sex isn’t even ever referred to again, so yeah. I guess girls in this universe only conceive when there’s a blue moon and all the planets align.
 
Shortly after Adornetto shows she’s taken a lot of inspiration from Stephenie Meyer, Molly worms her way back into the plot. Now, Molly was a moronic friend of Bethany’s in the first book, and in the second book, she tags along when Gabriel, Ivy and Xavier crowd into a car to try and find some portal to Hell so they can get Bethany back. Also, Molly falls in love with Gabriel, but it’s a textbook case of unrequited love. He rejects her, Molly’s heart is broken, and she leaves the plot entirely.
 
Molly here, however, transfers to Bethany and Xavier’s university because she’s fallen in love with a creepy cult member named Wade. Why has Molly wormed her way back into the plot? Are we really supposed to care about Molly being stupid and falling for somebody because she’s that desperate? Is it good character development that Molly has fallen for this unstable guy? No, not really. She’s stayed the same person throughout the series. Same thing with Bethany. The writer clearly wants us to believe that these two characters have developed (i.e., Bethany’s long-winded rants early in the book about how she’s stronger now because she’s been to Hell and is no longer going to stand for her and Xavier’s love being unfairly annulled), but they haven’t changed in the slightest. It’s just… rip-your-hair-out frustrating.
 
Things soon swing back Bethany’s way, though, as she is informed that the denizens of Hell are running riot because of her marriage to Xavier. Because… demons need that kind of excuse to run riot? There’s nothing about extra portals having opened up, nor any other plausible explanation, but hey. Bethany got married, all Hell broke loose, Bethany whines about how she just wants to be normal and have a loving relationship.
 
I felt my stomach sink to my shoes. Was this my fault? Were people now dying because of me, because I’d been stupid enough to make Lucifer angry?

(Page 145)

 
Yes, Bethany. People have died because of you, and you have been unbearably stupid throughout this trilogy. Perhaps if you’d just take responsibility for a second, and stop looking glassy-eyed at your one true love, or whining that whatever has happened isn’t your fault, this novel would not have made me so angry.
 
Bethany dashes off to tell Xavier. Her one true love has just come out of the shower, though. The moment Bethany manages to pick up her jaw from the ground, she tries to tell him this important information about the demons. But Xavier decides that it can wait, because he wants to be lovey-dovey at the moment. Bethany doesn’t even try to broach the subject again. Why? Because you have to obey your husband or some crap like that? Why?
 
Anyway, there’s some stupid drama that ensues when Mary-Ellen catches Bethany and Xavier making out and shrieks that she’s going to tell everybody about how they like to keep it in the family. Bethany chases after her, erases her memory… it was stupid, but hey, at least I got to finish off a bag of popcorn.
 
“I don’t feel like we’re two separate people anymore,” Xavier said, smiling dreamily over the rim of his sweet tea. “It’s like I live inside you and you live inside me. We’re pretty much the same person.”
 
“That’s how Our Father intended Man and Woman to live and love,” I replied. “Mimicking the relationship of the Trinity, in unity with one another.”

(Page 160)

 
I think I’m going to leave this quote as is and leave you guys to Hulk-smash the nearest table.
 
Anyway, Molly gets back into the plot, and it’s revealed that Wade has proposed to her after one month of dating. And she has accepted. While Bethany is busy sticking her nose up at Molly for being so stupid as to get married young and after only knowing the guy for a relatively short period of time (pot, kettle, black), I was wondering why the hell Adornetto ever even though to include such shitty female characters in this series. Just why? I’m not saying girls should be as tough as nails, but in real life, girls’ lives do not revolve around one guy. If I were to meet a guy and fall in love with him, I think he wouldn’t want to touch me with a bargepole if I started acting like my life revolved ENTIRELY around him. Don’t you think? That’s why the majority of people in a relationship get married after getting to know each other for a couple of years, finances notwithstanding.
 
Classes start soon enough for Bethany and Xavier, and she brings him into an English lecture. Xavier rolls his eyes and moans because poetry is girly, and then, all Hell breaks loose.
 
When I looked up at the vaulted ceiling, I saw the solid plaster become as ductile as dough.

(Page 167)

 
Trying too hard, my dear…
 
So yes, a load of Sevens descend upon this lecture hall, and proceed to attack and kill random people. Xavier and his roommate wind up dead, and Bethany screeches at Ivy to heal him back to life. Ivy succeeds, but Xavier ends up with Lucifer possessing his body? Why? Because Adornetto has a dartboard with plot ideas on her wall.
 
What we get after that is The Exorcist-lite, and… really? Are we supposed to be scared by Lucifer in this series? He looks like Doug Dimmadome from Fairly Odd Parents in my mind’s eye, what with his Texan accent and rodeo performer outfit. Bethany tells Lucifer that she pities him, and he’s only a lost little boy looking for Father’s approval after getting kicked out of his family home and… here’s where I seriously begin to wonder where the hell Adornetto is learning her theology from.
 
Then Jake comes back and says he wants to wager a deal between him and Bethany. It’s not sex, like it was in the last book, no, it’s a pair of angel wings. So Gabriel comes in and agrees to have his wings cut off, but then Jake and Lucifer are chased away by Raphael. Now, Raphael in this series is characterised as a quirky ginger-haired joker, and he goes away shortly after he makes his entrance. Aww. His appearance was like soothing balm on a nasty rash, you know?
 
We then move back into the realm of pointless drama, with Molly and Gabriel, then there’s this bizarre part where Xavier starts saying he no longer feels human. Ivy explains that it’s because she blessed an infertile couple with an immaculate conception baby (Xavier) eighteen years ago, and ‘healthy bodies’so they could have more. So Xavier is a ‘halfling’. Bethany wonders about any incestuous complications for a bit, which are then waved away.
 
Molly and Wade continue to contrast with Xavier and Bethany’s strong, healthy relationship. Wade tries to force Molly to marry him, Gabriel comes in the nick of time, Wade goes and trashes Gabriel’s house. So everyone goes back to Venus Cove.

 

However, the Sevens finally catch up with Bethany, and force her to come back with them. Bethany finds Heaven so omg BOOORING and acts like a spoilt little bitch throughout the last sixty or so pages before finally busting out of Paradise and into the Godly realm. God, however, does not smite Bethany on the spot for all the crap she’s caused. In fact, He forgives her. Yuck, yuck, and more yuck.
 
Bethany then wakes up on the beach in Venus Cove, her body metamorphosing into a human’s. She then makes her way home, and boom, falls back in love with Xavier.
 
Goodness gracious me, was this book an utter slog. The writing is confusing, with purple prose and over-description of non-essential things everywhere. Walking past a building on the way to class? Describe it! In every little detail! And this writer is no Victor Hugo, my friends. All of the characters are bland, at times obnoxious and idiotic, and their interpersonal dramas are frustratingly uninteresting. There’s nothing really to recommend this series. If you want a neutered supernatural romance series, maybe? If you need to stock the book shop at church? If you enjoy getting angry at book series you are not the target audience for?
 
Eh, I don’t care anymore. I’m off to play some Pokémon. 1/5.
Source: http://nessasky.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/book-review-heaven-by-alexandra-adornetto