Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Calling For Angels

Alex Smith
Paranormal Young Adult
The Red Telephone
Available Now
Received from publicist for review

As is par for the course, Em's life is becoming decidedly more complicated as she gets older. Her best friend Caitlyn is pulling away from her, her parents are often fighting, and her grandmother has fallen ill. On her way home from school one day, a strange woman pulls her into a van and tells her to choose a wooden figurine to determine the guardian angel she receives. Thoroughly confused and a little disturbed, Em leaves the van with the trinket in tow.

She finds herself thinking about the the little figure of a boy and innocently wishes he could be real. Moments after she makes her wish, Kai is standing before her explaining how the two of them have been divinely paired together.

Kai isn't the only new male arrival into her life however, as new student Zak seems to have taken an interest in Em much to Caitlyn and the other popular girls' dismay. Em begins to struggle with her feelings for Zak and the increasing tension in her home life, all the while trying to figure out Kai's purpose and what it means for her and those she loves.

Calling For Angels is a cute story, one that highlights universal experiences with love and loss, and one that is written with a surprising maturity given the young age of its author. Ms. Smith clearly has an extraordinary capacity for storytelling, and she exposes us to characters that have us wishing for more time with them than we are granted in this short young adult debut. Though the story and love triangle scenario are not overly unique, they are written in a way that oozes potential and promises an author who has a future in writing characters inevitably capable of complex interactions and engaging emotional conflicts.

Though this story is an intriguing start for Ms. Smith, there is a sense of incompleteness running rampant as we read. A number of events take place, yet when we reflect back upon conclusion, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what we'll be taking away with us when we close the back cover and begin something new. There are several engaging plot threads touched upon, but our exposure to them is brief and fleeting as we are quickly lead somewhere else before we feel ready to go. The fizzling friendship between Em and Caitlyn plays out superficially despite its potential to be an element that succeeds in securing our emotional attachment, relationships like it being a part of growing up that so many of us experience, yet it remains on the periphery–alluded to but not fully explored. We have a similar reaction to a storyline focusing on Em's grandmother and her illness, and just when we think this may be the reason Em is granted Kai as a guardian angel, the references to her grandmother become increasingly sparse, tucked away behind Em's blossoming relationship with Zak. We in fact never truly learn much about Kai though we often see things through his point of view, leaving our connection with him, Em, and the overall story just shy of whole.

Typically, when a book divides point of view between the two main protagonists we get a deeper, more substantial experience, one that provides us with more information than if our journey flowed through just one character alone. While Kai's perspective is interesting, it doesn't always seem necessary as he remains a complete mystery to us, and the viewpoint switches between him and Em so rapidly at times it's as though we're reading a screenplay instead of a novel. Sometimes only a sentence or two will stream from either Em or Kai before we're transferred back to the thoughts of the other, leaving the story a bit disjointed as we struggle to keep pace with our young guardian angel and his ward.

Overall, Calling For Angels is a sweet story despite it's flaws, and is one that will likely appeal to much younger readers who enjoy just a touch of romance as they imagine what it might be like to have their own angel shadow.

Rating: 2.5/5


  1. hmmmmm doesnt sounds like somerhing I'd enjoy =/

    Thanks for the honest review hon!

  2. Hi! You've won the Stylish Blogger and Versatile Blogger Award! You can check out the post here: http://beasbookblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/stylish-blogger-award-and-versatile.html

  3. Great review Jenny. I like dual POV's but they must have a nice flow from one to another, and it sound like this one was lacking that.

  4. Year ago it would have been a complete no no to switch POV, but I have found that I often enjoy reading various POV for exactly the reason you mention in this lovely review. That being said, I also think the author needs to be very careful and it sounds like Alex was not as careful as she should have been. Still this book definitely has some interesting plot elements that could be worth the read. Thanks for a great review!

  5. Too bad that didn't work too well. I love the idea of focusing on a relationship between grandmother and granddaughter. That's an element of YA that isn't dealt with very often. And I do like the idea of choosing a guardian angel. Interesting mythology. Bad cover though.

  6. This books sounds like an interesting cute read. I like different POV but sometimes its too much for me. The switching back and forth, etc. Thanks for the review.

  7. This sounds cute, but I think it's kind of hit or miss when the viewpoint shifts, you know? I want to learn more, not feel more confused. I'll probably pass this, but I love your in depth review, as usual! :)

  8. That was a great honest review. I actually think I will recommend it to my friends niece--she is in Jr. High and I think this will appeal to her.

  9. Great review...at first I thought you were doing one of those cover critique things.....

  10. Larissa - You're welcome:) I think it would appeal much more to a younger crowd.

    Bea - Thanks!

    Nic - The POVs did become distracting, like I said it was almost like reading a script since their name would appear and then there would be a line of thought, and then the next character's name would appear.

    Jan - I usually really like several different POVs once I get used to them, this one was just a little much:)

    Alison - It has promise:) Don't get me started on that cover though.

    Savy - The switching was frustrating at times.

    Melissa - It was cute, I just wanted to stay with one character a little bit longer before I got transferred elsewhere.

    Felicia - Definitely a good one for younger readers!

    Tina - Ha! It's certainly cover critique worthy. It made me cringe when I saw it.

  11. This sounds REALLY cute, and I want to read it now! Awesome review :)

  12. Well I do love me some YA paranormal (obviously), I hate to admit it, but the plot description just seems to make the story sound really immature IMO- I almost wouldn't classify it as a YA novel, but as a middle grade novel. Anyways, at first the cover really threw me off, but it is kinda really growing on me... I think its cute!
    Thanks for the great review!

  13. This sounds cute. I think I would want to know more about the characters. I'm reading one now with shifting POV, but it gives you more info and I really enjoy that. Hmm... might be too young for me, but I'd have to think who it would be perfect for! :)

  14. Interesting. I hadn't heard of this one yet. Great review!

  15. Cindy - Thanks!

    Avery - It definitely reads younger, but the characters are more high school than middle school though I think middle school readers would probably enjoy it more:)

    Melissa - I would definitely say you would think it was too young:)

    Carissa - Thanks:)

  16. Well... at least the cover it cute...kinda?


    POV shifts are becoming wildly popular, and I understand why. It is nice to be in the head of both characters, to an extent and only if there is value to it.

    Sorry this one didn't quite work out. Guardian angels are so fickle now a days. ;)

  17. I absolutely love being able to read multiple viewpoints in a book, but of course, it only truly works when it's done well. Great review.

  18. Missie - They are fickle aren't they? This one especially:)

    Aylee - Me too! I like getting different perspectives, this one just gave me a little too much of a good thing:)

  19. I wasn't really a fan of the cover, and after reading your review, I think I'll skip this one. The premise sounds kind of cute though for MGers.

  20. Mmm... I have to admit that I'd be wary of reading a book which switches between character pov's and still don't give readers much insight into their thoughts and motivations. Also not really a fan of the cover, but admit to finding the premise of the novel very cute! Well-thought out and very thorough review Jenny!

  21. Thanks for the honesty, I haven't heard of this book before but I like teh cover and it does sound like a fun read.

  22. Multiple viewpoints are ok with me only if there is a certain flow to the story.I think I will give this book a miss.Thanks for the review!

  23. Zahida - The cover needs a little help:) It makes sense after I've read it, but it's not great!

    Tammy - Thank! It was cute and has a lot of potential, I just had a few problems with the shifting POVs.

    Jenny - It would be good for middle school kids I think even though the protagonists are more high school.

    Misha - I agree, there has to be a good reason for the switch where I get to learn something new:)

  24. I have this one on my Kindle ready to be picked up, but now I'm a little worried about the shifting POVs. I'm glad I saw this before starting it, now I'll be a little more prepared for it.