A decent book with strong characters that unfortunately gets bogged down for nearly 2/3rds of the book with Dru flailing around, not sure of what to do. Although this is good, I don't see myself checking out the rest of the series because A) there are virtually no other women (and certainly no positive female role models) in this book, B) females, once again, are cut out of being supernaturals unless they are REALLY REALLY special (the next book, Dru is the ONLY FEMALE at the school because nearly all dhamphir are male), and C) the book closes nicely enough, there really isn't much of a sting to read on (NOT a bad thing BTW).
I would not hesitate to recommend over similar books like "Shatter Me" (seriously, this book is nearly exactly like it, but WAY better).
Dru Anderson lives with her dad. Together, they roam the country, hunting the beings that go bump in the night. Everything is going as smoothly as things can possibly go when your livelihood involves vampires (suckers) and werewolves (werewolven) until one day, a zombie shambles into Dru's home and changes her life forever.
Eons ago, I picked this up on sale at a used bookstore. It might have stayed on the shelf for many many more years, but for a few reasons:
+ This year's goal is to weed through all these books I've had sitting lonesome on my shelves for years.
+ I also have this goal of trying to eradicate my shelves of young adult fiction, a "genre" that I am increasingly growing out of (yes, it makes me sad too).
+ Don't spend any more money on new books (this has been going REALLY WELL!)
+ If you must read a book you don't own, get an audiobook at the library.
Whaddya know - there was an audiobook at the library! So naturally, I put this on my iPod, held my breath and dove in.
This project hasn't been very kind to me, as you can see. At best, the books I've waded through have been "meh" or "not my thing". At worst, we have Patch.
So when I say that "Strange Angels" is the best of the recent bunch I've waded through, it's a HUGE compliment. The writing is better, the characters are better, the world-building is better. Part of me wonders if this is because Lili St.Crow is the adult author, Lilith Saintcrow, who has already written quite a few books so is very well aware of the ropes. Part of me wonders if someone FINALLY wrote the hard-bitten, tough girl right (can't help but put in a jab at LKH and her Mary Sue, Anita Blake).
I really liked Dru. She was a tough kid put in a sh!tty situation, and she handled it about like I imagine I would - terrified out of her mind and trying desperately to understand it. I also liked how she wasn't drop-dead gorgeous, how her first thoughts weren't about how hot the guys were around her, how she was just so NATURAL.
I also adored Graves. In fact, I may like him more than Dru. Graves is half-Asian, and I'm just like FINALLY!!! I am SO TIRED of everyone in these novels being so blooming WHITE. (Which is why I undertook a different project to challenge my white bias.) He's a great friend, smart, resourceful, just all around NICE. I love his interactions with Dru, I love how he likes her, but isn't like, "ZOMG, lemme save you, you poor whimpering baby!" Oh, and I love how they don't fall insta-love and have time to GET TO KNOW each other (a shock, amiright?).
The unfortunate thing is that Dru and Graves pretty much live in a world alone, until the very end when we get Christoff, a teenaged hunter (really? I mean, really?). We have Dru's dad (who is cool), but other than him, we have Dru's teacher, who is a b!tch, and that's about it. No females of note - and to make THAT worse, it's because, in this world, all the special suckers and supernatural woowoos are male. To be a female in this world is VERY VERY RARE.
The fact that YET ANOTHER series starring a female protagonist in an almost exclusively male world (along with Mercy Thompson, Anita Blake, Merry Gentry, and many, many more) says something about us. It says that the default is male. That men are the ones to be and do special things. To be a woman and equally special, you have to be EVEN MOAR special than the men - not just the same special, but EVEN RARER. And that if a woman does become that special thing, she becomes the sole woman in a world of men. It's sad, that in the year 2014 (I know, this book was published years ago), this mentality is still very much the norm.
Enough about the book's sexism. I have to now get into the biggest reason this is merely 3 stars and not the 4 I very much wanted to give it. And the reason is simple enough: for 2/3rds of the book, NOTHING HAPPENS.
Oh, sure, Dru has to kill a zombie, flee werewolves (no, I refuse to call them "wolven" because that is stupid), befriend Graves, and mourn the loss of her dad (not spoiler - this happens in the first few chapters). And I didn't have a problem with this for a good 40% of the book. But by that point, I was like, "Come on, Dru. Get off your @$$ and start hitting the books." (Which she doesn't do until the 80% mark, and even then, that's one big huge ugly infodump.) By the time I got to the end where some pretty cool revelations and action scenes happen, I was so bored, I had tuned out. I didn't care what happened anymore, I wanted this book to be DONE. A shame, truly, because this book IS really good.
And one more thing to note: while I loved the narrator, her voice for Christoff SUCKED. HARD. She like talked in Shatnerese...pausing...whenever she...felt like it might...create some...drama...for the story.
Since this is a young adult novel, I also want to bring up some items that parents might be interested in. First off, there is a LOT of swearing in this book, and I'm taking f-bombs, not just "damn" and "hell". There aren't any objectionable sexual situations, but the violence is pretty gritty and non-stop. I would recommend for teens 16+.
"Strange Angels" is one of the strongest vampire/urban fantasy novels in the young adult age group. It's got some great characters, great ideas, and some great action. That said, I doubt I will go further in the series because A) I've heard the end really sucks, B) I have a lot of other books to read, C) I don't have the other books in this series, D) the next book is more about how Dru is the only female in this male-centric world. Regardless of that, I would not hesitate to recommend, if you are a fan of vampires or liked the idea of "Shatter Me", but thought Juliette sucked. (Seriously, "Strange Angels" has a similar plot to "Shatter Me", but WAY better characters.)