Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: No Angel by Theresa Sneed (Whitney Finalist)

Title: No Angel
Author: Theresa Sneed
Enjoyment Rating: 5/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Electronic copy
Books I've read this year: 44

When I was filling out my college applications, there were a couple of instances where I had to name my favorite book. I'm pretty sure that I said it was The Grapes of Wrath but in the interest of full disclosure, it wasn't really my favorite book. There was a book that I had read half a dozen times, a book that never failed to reduce me to tears every time I finished it (and honestly, I think that's why I read it-- I needed that cathartic release or something). It was called Star Child, and was written by Doug Stewart and Linda Higham Thompson, and like its companion book, Saturday's Warrior, it dealt a lot with how relationships formed in the preexistence were complicated on earth. I'm sure that if I read it now, I'd find it abhorrent (and I guess I'll find out since I found a copy online and just ordered it), but at the time, it helped me through my teen years in Connecticut when I thought I'd never find a Mormon boy to marry me.

If you take two parts Star Child and one part It's a Wonderful Life, you have Theresa Sneed's No Angel. The protagonist, Jonathan Stewart (which feels like an intentional allusion to IAWL) is a guardian angel, chosen by Celeste, a spirit on her way to earth. Jonathan doesn't want to be a guardian angel-- he's not good with people, hated his time on earth, and just wants to spend out his eternity living his neatly ordered little life. But Celeste picked him, so he goes along, kicking and screaming the whole way. I started reading this book reluctantly-- in general, I stay away from books that delve into some of the "it's impossible to know this" areas of Mormon theology, but the early chapters of No Angel were quite good-- quick moving and tight. I found myself grudgingly approving of it-- it felt like it could be more like Defending Your Life than Saturday's Warrior.  But the last third of the book takes a decidedly weird turn, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. If the book had been more about Jonathan's relationship (and not a romantic relationship, which I found icky) with Celeste and less about him trying to overcome guardian angel prison, I think I would have liked it better.

1 comment:

Theresa Small Sneed said...

Hi Shelah ... my first reaction from your review of my book was, "That's fair." Because, in truth - it's the one part of the book I wish I could write over ... :) Once you get through the 'weird' part though, it goes back into the same kind of story it started out as. I hope you will enjoy its prequel better - From Heaven to Earth will be out the first of May ~ Theresa Sneed