Author: L.A. Banks
Series: The Dark #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 03/29/11
Reviewed by: Sara
But the Book:
National bestselling author L.A. Banks’s electrifying new paranormal series is set in a sizzling world where Dark and Light are trapped in an eternal struggle for the fate of mankind.
Celeste Jackson has fought all her life against a fog of hallucination and substance abuse, but it’s not until she meets her protector, Azrael, an angel who has left the safety of the Light, that she learns of the evil forces that have been trying to ruin her, and why. A fierce battle for control of the mortal realm is brewing, and only Celeste -- with the help of the Remnant, her half-human, half-angel brethren -- can stand in the way. Together, Celeste and Azrael must gather an army of sensitives to defeat the dark powers that have ruled humanity for centuries, but time is running out. If Azrael surrenders to his growing desire for Celeste, he risks being trapped among humanity forever. But the longer he stays, the harder she is to resist. To save the world, Celeste must draw on her own dark experiences with addiction to help Azrael overcome the one temptation that could possibly make him an eternal prisoner -- his obsession with her.
Plot: 2 Stars
My biggest problem with this novel: I don't like my fallen angels to be tied to religion. I read paranormal fiction, not religious fiction, for a reason. Although Azrael explains that all religions tied together to the same God that he never really named, there was still a large amount of religion within the novel. I could almost deal with that, but there was a lot of preaching added on to that. In order to help Celeste, Azrael had to help her cleanse her body. Not just from alcohol and drugs, but from processed food and drink also. I could handle that, except for the delivery. Instead, I felt like the author was using these characters to preach to the reader about all of the horrible things humans put into their bodies. Also, I wouldn't recommend reading this novel unless you have the sequel ready to go right after it. This novel didn't end in a cliffhanger, but there wasn't much resolution.
Pace: 1.5 Stars
This book really dragged. It felt like everything had to be explained to Celeste in painstaking detail. Azrael was one of the most long winded characters I've ever read, and Celeste wasn't that far behind. The worst part about these super long explanations was that they didn't feel real. It didn't feel like conversation. It felt like I was back in college, sitting through a lecture for 400 pages.
Characters: 2 Stars
The novel starts off with Celeste thinking she's schizophrenic and using alcohol to make the voices go away. She is also living with an abusive boyfriend who is a horrible person. Azrael comes into her life because she is a piece of the puzzle between good and evil. He cleanses her body of her addiction, and it's like Celeste had never had alcohol before. It just wasn't a very realistic description of an addict fighting to stay sober. I understand that this was an Urban Fantasy, but I think Celeste would've been a much stronger character if she continued to fight with her addiction throughout the rest of the drama. In regards to Azrael, I don't think the book's description found on the back cover holds true. It talks a lot about Azrael's obsession with Celeste and how awful it could turn out. But in the novel, he is intrigued by her and develops feelings, but it is never portrayed as an obsession.
Cover: 3 Stars
I applaud Pocket for embracing these characters and not white-washing the cover. The characters were people of color, so they used models who were people of color. I think the cover model chosen for Celeste was a great match to the descriptions within the novel. I wish that the cover model they chose for Azrael wasn't facing away from the reader. Although it allows for a better shot of his wings, I would've liked to see him turned towards Celeste since he was sort of a Guardian Angel to her. The greens in the title blended well with the background were a good choice for the cover. It stands out on the shelves in a genre that has much more reds, oranges, purples, and blues.
Overall: 2 Stars
Disclosure: I bought this novel for my own reading pleasure.