Author: Meradeth Houston
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Date Published: May 11, 2012
Genre: Paranormal (YA)
Source: Provided by Bewitched Book Tours
Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.
What a beautiful book! It's not like I am surprised...Per Se...but I have to tell you that I'm always extremely cautious when I find out that a book I've been asked to review has those feathery beacons of hope and love: Angels...One of my biggest issues with the whole Angels and Demons aspect of Paranormal literature is that I struggle greatly with religious themes. I find it very difficult for authors to approach such a topic without sounding like they are on their soap box and striving to convert the world. I've spent entirely too much of my life being preached at (usually by people who should NOT be role models for anyone) and reading about religious themes tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth that taints the rest of the novel, no matter how well written it is or how much I would have liked it otherwise. That being said, I absolutely ADORED the way that Houston approached angels.
The Sary are basically everything you've ever thought you knew about angels. Particularly guardian angels. They've got wings, they have missions to save lost souls on earth, and they strive to protect their charges at all costs. The only additions here was that if people find out about them, they lose their wings and immortality forever and die among humans. Also, there was no religious identity. No god, no devil. These angels are fighting the good fight because that was their choice. They could have gone into the light when they died, or they could stay on earth to protect people from war, famine, revolution, and suicide. It was actually quite beautiful really. Made even more ethereal because the only way you can become a Sary is if you never experienced real life on earth. I.E. Sarys are children who died before taking a single breath of life. Totally fascinating concept and I could have used a bit more depth when dealing with that. How did Sarys come about? Who gives these people the choice of living or dying? I said I didn't want religion to be a huge part of it, but maybe I do want SOME kind of explanation into the Saries pasts and purpose in life.
Julia was an interesting character to say the least. I didn't really get a true sense of her personality and character because she was so tied up in the pain and grief of losing her lover and best friend Derek. She kind of hid behind her own pain so that you never got to hear her true voice...only a sort of miserable cry of heartbreak and loss. She tried to do her job the best she could and the times when she was talking with Marci were when she truly seemed to come to life as a character, but when she was left alone with just her own thoughts for company she became a bit sad and kind of boring. It's a good thing that she was almost never alone after the first few pages. If she's not with Marci, she's going toe to toe with Edison, a Sary from her past who brings with him more than memories and old hurts. In fact, if it weren't for Edison, I don't think I would have found the characters quite so awesome. He just brings a whole new level of depth because of how he's dealt with his own pain and trauma, and I loved how he helped both Julia and Marcy with their respective issues.
The storyline alternates between the past and the present as we experience Julia and Derek's relationship and then her pain at losing him. Though there was a lot of time spent on the emotional turbulence from Julia's past, the bigger story now revolves around Julia's new charge Marcy, and how Julia has been working to keep her from committing suicide. I really enjoyed Marcy's story. She has had a rough life and still keeps her spirits up for the most part, and she is pretty damn hilarious. Her abusive relationship with her boyfriend and her alcoholic father was a really fascinating story line and I wished that there would have been some more time spent on it. There's a lot of complexity involved as Houston weaves the past together with the present, but I have to say what kept me thinking about the book after I put it down, and then had me coming back to read minutes later, was the past flashbacks. You just wanted to experience more of Derek, more of their companionship, and more of the love that they felt for one another, even as the story progresses and you know that tragedy is about to strike.