It’s been a while since I last read a good Paranormal Romance novel, and not for lack of trying. Sunniva Dee’s Shattering Halos reminded me how awesome this genre can be. I was gushing about it right after I read it but after some much-needed stewing, I couldn't ignore the major hang-ups I had while reading the book. I liked the fact that it’s got the whole NA thing going on but this series has its work cut out for it if it wants to make it into the big leagues of PNR. Given that assessment, I still think Shattering Halos is a book worth reading (and Halos a series worth following)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Sunshine Stars
I traded my death for love. I wasn’t given a choice. His decision has caught up with us, so now I am a living, breathing catalyst to war between Heaven and Hell.
The violations he committed saved my life. Since the collision, he’s appeared everywhere. In my hospital room, my school, even my house. He shows up in my paintings, my drawings, in all of my art projects. I can’t stop thinking about him.
He says his name is Gabriel, and he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. He doesn’t know how I can see him or why he wants me in ways that should be impossible for a Celestial.
My obsession grows. I need him to hold me, kiss me—give all of himself. For every day he protects me, the consequences loom darker and taller. Soon, they’ll crash down on us.
The war is about to begin.
First, I thought the story’s beginning was pretty confusing. Okay, so the book is narrated from two POVs (which I will get into more detail later). The story starts when Gaia (POV #1) finds herself the lone survivor of a car wreck that took the lives of her closest friends. She should have died with them and it was mind boggling for everyone involved and their mother how she’s still alive.
After the accident, the story revolved more on how Gaia tried to reclaim her old life; going back to school, making new friends, etc. This was one part that I definitely did not like all that much. It was a bit of a contradiction. There were a few times when the story dragged on and seemed to dwell on stuff that the book definitely could’ve done without, IMHO. But then there are other times when it felt all rushed and glossed over. Even the dialogue was a bit flat and monotonous. As I was reading, it also felt as though it didn't give the readers enough time to properly digest the events that played out. It’s like, one thing happens but before I could fully wrap my mind around it, I’m bombarded with a series of other events that I can’t successfully reconcile with one another. Okay, maybe being fast-paced and event-filled isn’t a totally bad thing in a novel. Heck, that’s even what makes some stories exciting. I guess, what Shattering Halos needed in that regard was better transitioning when it comes to the events that happen in the story.
It sure made for one confusing start to the book.
Okay, back to the story. If everyone wondered how Gaia survived, their questions have nothing on hers because what’s even more peculiar than her miraculous survival is the ridiculously good-looking apparition of a guy that Gaia sees everywhere. This is where I thought it went a biiiiiiit overboard on the love-at-first sight angle. It felt like a whirlwind romance of epic proportions. For the first half of the book, I could barely keep up with the amount and degree of love-at-first-sight-itis. I’m not a big fan of insta-love and I’m sorry but, God, that was unbearably painful. I got whiplash by the speed at which they fell for each other. There was no build up between them. AT ALL.
The funny thing was, as much as Gabriel and Gaia felt undeniably attracted to each other, they go to great lengths to make sure than nothing really happens between the two of them. Gaia eventually finds out that there is more to Gabriel than his freaking good looks, obviously. This revelation does not only cause Gabriel to pull away from Gaia but it also leads to a heartbreaking separation reminiscent of Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon. It was then that I start to wonder whether this was really YA or NA. I was really contemplating about putting the book down at that point.
I’M GLAD I DIDN’T.
Things start looking up for Shattering Halos when Gaia went to college. And when I mean look up, it just completely obliterated the first half of the book that I kinda, sorta hated a little bit.
As the story revved towards a more substantial and intriguing storyline, things between Gabriel and Gaia heat up, as well. Now THAT is more like it. In the beginning I thought this was going to be another love-dovey, cutesy love story. But I must admit that Gabriel degli Angeli *wink wink* is smoking hot. That whole protective thing he has going on for Gaia definitely does wonders for his macho persona.
And man, don’t even get me started on Cassiel! He’s POV #2, by the way, which I found particularly interesting. Almost always, when a novel is told in multiple POVs, they’re usually told in the MCs’ POVs. In this case, it would have been Gaia’s and Gabriel’s. I’m not complaining, though, because this bad boy Fallen Angel gave Shattering Halos some much needed comic relief with a huge side of sexy.
Gaia and Gabriel’s characters were too uptight and stiff. It made it difficult to connect to them as characters and that’s a huge point against Shattering Halos because, well, they’re the main characters! They were too one-dimensional and the dynamics of their relationship fell flat. One could only ogle the love of one’s life for so long before it becomes terribly tiring (for readers, that is). He’s hot, we get it, move on and find something more interesting about your angel!
Cassiel was the saving grace in my opinion. Without him, I would’ve grown bored of Gaia and Gabriel. There was very little character development. Although the plot and the story zoomed by, the characters were left at a standstill. I get how Gabriel was starting to feel more human, but I think that was about it, and it wasn't even that ground-breaking, either.
The story's build-up was getting good, well, until the information overload, that is. The lore behind the story was very interesting. I loved Shattering Halos’ take on the well-worn theme of angels. But there was too much happening at once. It would have been better if the author just eased in the information instead of dropping it all in one go: the grigori, the gates (yes, gates) of heaven, the tomes... It all felt a bit disjointed. The story generates more questions than it answers and it was frustrating as hellfire to keep on trying to catch up to the story. I had to struggle to connect one thing to the next thing, and by the time I get there, the story sprouts out new branches I have to decipher and connect all over again.
I think that was the main thing I struggled with in Shattering Halos. I would’ve appreciated the story more if it was written more fluidly.
I’m happy with how the story wound up. The climax was that, a climax. It was exciting and fun to read. I just think that it would have been even more exciting if the battle scene was written in the POV of a character in actual battle-mode. I’m sorry but it felt like a cop out to write about what could have been such an EPIC scene from the POV of a character watching it through the angelic equivalent of a television screen. Case in point: Cassiel’s POV of the battle in Galdhopiggen felt like the barebones of that action-packed storytelling I was talking about. However, he didn’t really do any of the action himself. Even though he was in the middle of the action, he was just an observer, a by-stander, much like Gaia.
If Shattering Halos is anything to go by, sequels in this series would need some badass ass-kicking to raise it to the level of epic PNRs. Definitely looking forward to the next book because even though I did not love it SHATTERING HALOS much as I thought I would, I must admit that it was enjoyable to read.