By Shannon Dittemore
Published May 29, 2012
Ages 14 and up
Nelson Thomas, Inc.
Reviewed: e-book provided by publisher
Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through…
Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.
Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.
Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.
A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
Thank you to the author, the publisher and to YA Bound for allowing Making the Grade to be part of the Angel Eyes Blog Tour!
Shannon Dittemore’s debut novel, Angel Eyes, is an amazing first installment to a new trilogy for the YA paranormal genre. To say I loved it would be an injustice as there aren’t words ostentatious enough to describe how much I truly enjoyed this book! I feel obligated to say that although this book resonated with me, it may not be for everyone. Angel Eyes has heavy spiritual undertones that are vital to the plot of the story. HOWEVER, even though it tackles concepts of Heaven, Hell, angels, demons, and God, it doesn’t come off as “in-your-face” or “preachy”. Dittemore gives a twist on some biblical references … short retellings on stories of Elijah the prophet, to support the back story. There are dictums of the celestial, their purpose, the atmosphere of Heaven, as well an element of pure evil, the devil, his fallen angels, and their purpose. This story had me so enraptured it gave me goosies!!! If you decide to give this book a shot, which I highly recommend that you do, please keep in mind that this is not gospel. It is fictional literature. Although for believers, it is easy to find the truth that is interwoven into the fictional material. Shannon Dittemore’s writing is ingenious and I commend her for her brashness in tackling spiritual fiction! You go girl!
Brielle went to the big city in pursuit of a career in fine arts. After the tragic death of her best friend, Brielle abandoned that pursuit and returned home in an attempt to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams. Brielle meanders through life, going through the motions, lost and consumed in her grief and guilt. That is, until a chance meeting with a new kid at school named Jake. Or is it a divine appointment? For reason’s she can’t explain, being close to Jake eases Brielle. It gives her a sense of peace she hasn’t experienced since the loss of her best friend. More than that, he brings warmth into her life that was otherwise frozen by fear. Jake introduces Brielle to a world that she didn’t even know existed; a world she can’t help but struggle to accept as reality. But the more she experiences, and the more she sees, the harder it is to deny. With new eyes to see, and an awareness of a war that extends beyond the natural, Brielle and Jake set out on a journey to discover the purpose they were both designed to fulfill, together.
Dittemore is a brilliant writer. The technique she uses to build her characters makes them nearly palpable. Beyond that, they are believable. From the emotion they emanate during some pretty tough circumstances, to the choices they make in the face of danger, makes these characters stand out in a very unique way.
Brielle is emotionally complex. There is no hiding the fact that she is very troubled. She has dealt with some serious loss in her life that makes her question God. When she isn’t questioning His ability to stop terrible tragedy, she is questioning His very existence. To add to it, she blames herself for situations that are not her doing, taking responsibility that isn’t hers to take. She has a habit of putting her guard up due to her past losses and has a hard time trusting people. As the story progresses, we get to watch Brielle embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing that transforms her into a more stable minded, emotionally sound, individual.
Jake is a breath of fresh air. He is a very upbeat and light-hearted character whose very presence brings life to the story and evokes a smile from the reader. Where Brielle waivers with whom she is as an individual and what she stands for, Jake is a solid pillar of faith. Jake also experienced a great deal of tragedy in his earlier childhood. Dittemore doesn’t sugar-coat the complexities of the situation that led Jake to being cared for by a guardian named Canaan; a guardian who helps mold him into an unwavering man of faith who exudes peace, stability, and confidence that is humble, but certain.
Dittemore took her time depicting the surroundings of the story and she did it in a fashion that was purely majestic. As a reader, I was pulled into the story almost immediately and found it hard to depart from the world she created in the story. Whether it was on the terrestrial or in the celestial plane, Dittemore crafted a story so vivid that it lives on long after you finish the book! This is defiantly a meat and potatoes kind of read full of grit and lots of food for thought!
It is always nice to come across a book that doesn’t sag in the middle. The book was written well, balanced well, and had smooth transitions that kept it moving forward without any hold-ups. I honestly found it difficult to find a place to stop reading. If not for the fact that I am a stay at home mother of five children, I would have finished this read in one sitting. I was that engrossed in the story!
Dittemore’s writing is superb with intricate plot twists that are established from the very first page. The story starts off with morose foreboding and you get a real sense of Brielle’s torment with the death of her best friend. The technique she uses in building her story adds a fantastic element of mystery that only adds to the depth of the plot. I also thoroughly enjoyed the way she wrote each chapter in alternate perspectives of Brielle, Jake, Canaan (Jake’s guardian or shield, a Heavenly angel), and Damien (a demonic/fallen angel). It gave me an intimate look at each of the characters in the story and their particular motives or intentions.
Dittemore manages to bring many biblical principles to life in a world of fiction and I am grateful for her boldness to engage readers in the subject of spiritual warfare. As a woman in the ministry that deals with spiritual warfare, this is a subject that is very dear to my heart, and it is refreshing to find it portrayed in a fictional story that all readers can enjoy no matter what their beliefs are.
I want to put one last disclaimer out for parents of younger readers that may be considering this book. Though this is a clean read and promotes good morals and integrity, there are some strong scenes of violence, human trafficking and concepts of Hell’s army that can be a bit menacing. Review the content before giving it to young readers. I personally wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of fourteen.