Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Halflings by Heather Burch

Title:  Halflings 
Author:  Heather Burch
Genre:  Young Adult/Paranormal
Publisher:  Zondervan
Format:  NetGalley/Kindle
Release Date:  February 1, 2012

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves Halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret-and the wings that come with it.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys' powers, as well as her role in a scientist's dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world (summary courtesy publisher via NetGalley).

My initial reaction to Halflings:

This book left me scratching my head, for a variety of reasons. Not one single question put forth in this book was answered at the end. Usually when a book gives you some type of mystery or question to be explored and answered, even if sequels are planned, the author will give you some answers. I knew about as much when I finished the book as I did when I started it. Too many things were left unexplored and unanswered.  Another thing I had a difficult time with was the occasional slip from third person to first person.  The first couple of times it happened, I assumed it was because I was reading an ARC and it was simply a mistake. But it kept happening. I finally realized about half way through the book that those occasional slips were actually the characters thinking to themselves. To me, it just looked like an editing mistake. Quotations marks or a simple “she thought” would have fixed that problem. Sometimes, the story line was a bit difficult to follow because time didn’t flow consistently throughout the story. It would jump forward and back in time, leaving me stumped as to what exactly was happening. A lot of this could have been solved with editing.

I also found it difficult to connect with any of the characters. The boys and their personalities were built solely on their looks. Every time any of them appeared in the story, the reader heard about “muscles under shirts, muscles flexing, and muscles rippling” or their hair and how it flowed around them. The one character I felt had the most potential to be interesting was never given any other characterization other than a description of what his long, blond hair was doing while he fought, or walked, or ran. Oh, and he liked candy. After about ten chapters, I was beyond tired of hearing the boys being described. I know what they look like, move on!  The main character Nikki, was really hard to figure out. Sometimes she seemed confident and put-together, other times she seemed wishy-washy. Other times, she came across as a petulant brat. Burch seemed to put action before characterization, which was disappointing.  A little bit of character-building could have gone a long way toward making this a better book.          

Unfortunately, I had a bigger issue with this book than some unanswered questions, editing issues and lack of character development. Let’s just say that I have read this book before. Only that time, its title was Twilight. Maybe this book should have been called Twilight 2.0—The Angel Version. I thought maybe I was just imagining things, but then I decided to jot down the similarities I found between the two. It was definitely not my imagination. Similarities to Twilight (*may contain spoilers*):
·         Paranormal boy(s)
·         Girl that needs protecting
·         Boy breaks the rules to see the girl.
·         They are “inexplicably drawn to each other.”
·         The boys are gorgeous, often referred to as “Greek Gods.”
·         The boys move with unnatural speed,
·         One of the boys can “pick up a thought or two.”
·         Almost a direct quote from Twilight (and one of the most famous): “…there was a tiny part and she wasn’t sure how powerful that part was…”
·         The boys can drive really fast because their reflexes are better than a humans.
·         The girl feels “a gaping, empty hole” in her chest after a break-up, clutches her chest to keep the pain in.
·         The boys have fantastic hearing, can hear things others can’t.
·         The boys move faster than the eye can see, they even say “You can’t outrun us.”
·         One of the boys struggles to achieve goodness despite what he is.
·         Girl loves both boys.

Do you see what I mean? I’m sure it’s flattering to Stephenie Meyer that so many authors copy her, but we as readers want to see something new. Halflings is definitely not that something new.

I tried to enjoy Halflings, I really did.  I tried to ignore the fact that it was really just a blatant rip-off of one of my favorite books. Unfortunately, I couldn’t overlook it. Writing a book that follows a formula (Paranormal Hot Guy + Girl Who Needs Protection = Bestseller) is not entertaining or original. As readers, we’ve been there and done that. We want originality, not a re-worked version of a previous bestseller.  Sadly, Burch doesn’t give us that originality. I wish she had. 

My grade for Halflings by Heather Burch: 


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