Review: Halflings

Halflings (Halflings #1) by Heather Burch
Release Date ~ Februay 1, 2012
Zondervan Publishing
ISBN13: 9780310728184
ARC received from another blogger

Goodreads Synopsis:
After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

Halflings struck me as a fairly typical YA paranormal romance (with angels, no less) with one very interesting twist: it's written by a Christian author and published by Zondervan, and is heavily influenced on some Christian teachings.

But let me first establish that it is no way church-cheesy or annoyingly preachy; it's very subtle, and if not for my own Christian beliefs and background I would have missed many of them. So don't be scared off by that if it's something you like, it really isn't that different from other YA paranormal reads.

  1. Interest-grabbing action:
    The one thing I really loved about Halflings is that it sucked me in right away and stole my attention from everything else by jumping in with a BANG! The first couple chapters are very fast-paced and filled with action, which is one of my favourite ways to be thrown into a storyline. The plot continues in this vein, sticking with just enough mystery to keep you on your toes and constantly guessing what will happen and action to keep your eyes glued to the pages.
  2. Characters that grow on you:
    The story mainly revolves around Nikki, Mace and Raven. I ended up being a big fan of Mace right from the start, and while it took me a little bit longer to be charmed by Nikki I really enjoyed her as a character overall. She's got just enough spunk in her, but she still maintains this vulnerability and ended up striking a delicate balance between the two. Exactly what I like from a heroine. Raven, on the other hand, took a lot longer to grow on me but we really don't get to see much of him at all. He's definitely more complex that he lets on, and I'm curious to see what else we'll learn about him from the sequel.
By the way, the love triangle is reminiscent of the one between Tessa, Will and Jem in The Infernal Devices. You've got your extra special, mysterious girl, one brooding bad boy, and one equally hot but safe good guy. Mix it up and see what happens- oh, and of course it's all forbidden love. But the triangle in Halflings does progress differently than TID, but we'll see what happens.

But overall, this book ended up feeling a little bit vanilla for me. There aren't any real complaints, but I didn't find much to make it stand out in my mind either (besides the fact that it's based off of Christian mythology). You've got your standard love triangle - check. Paragraphs with detailed eye colour descriptions of romantic interest - check. The token, semi-vapid best friend - check. And pure insta!love - check. It really did leave me wanting for more.

I also think there could have been a bit more of an established emotional attachment to some characters (semi-spoiler: especially a few who ended up dying. I won't say who, but there are a few). It's difficult for a character's death to make a real impact if the reader isn't that attached to them yet.

Lastly, this point is a bit neutral (neither fully positive nor negative) but most of the Christian influence I found to be extremely subtle. So subtle in fact, that I think most of it will be lost on readers who aren't that familiar with it. Some things are mentioned in passing without any explanation that the meaning could easily be lost. For example (and this is pretty spoiler-free), Nikki's compared to Queen Esther. It's mentioned in passing a couple times, but if you don't know who Queen Esther is or what she did it really won't mean much to you. It ends up being a bit deeper than that at times too, but I think it's mostly a positive attribute in these areas because it allows those unfamiliar with the deeper meaning to just read along without being confused but those who understand the symbolism can relate to it in another way as well. Kind of Chronicles of Narnia style, in that way.

I should also add that if you're looking for a clean read, this one could easily qualify. There's plenty of anticipationand build up for the romance, but they still take their time to act on it in any way so it isn't lacking in the romance department either.

And if you guys are interested, you can also check out the special Halflings site includings tons of information, videos, and forums!

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


Giselle said...

Great review Brenna I'M a bit wary of this one. It's gotten mixed opinions and i'm not a huge fan of angel books they seem to be hit or miss.

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Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I completely agree about the emotional attachments with the characters who die! I found I wasn't as affected by it as I should have been. Not being very religious myself I definitely missed a lot of the hints to those things, I was happy that it was overly preachy (which I have seen in some books). This was a pretty good read for me as well. Great review!

Anonymous said...

hm... interesting review! You might have swayed me on this book. I really do like angel books, too, so I might have see if I can get my library to order it.

Brenna said...

Andrea- that was largely my main problem with it! I just didn't care when they died because I barely knew them as characters. And it definitely walked a fine line very, very well.

Ashelynn, please let me know if your library is unable to order Halflings! I'd love to help you out in any way I can if that is the case. Just e-mail me :)

Jacinda (The Reading Housewives) said...

I <3 your blog design!

I'm trying to decide if I want to add this to my TBR...just because of what you said about the Christian aspects. I know you said I shouldn't worry, but I get bothered my things easily, lol. But you did say it isn't preachy, so that's good!

I do love it that you said the love triangle is like the one in TID :)

Love the review!

Mimi Valentine said...

WOW, what a beautiful review, Brenna! <3 This is one of those books that I've never been quite sure about adding to my TBR pile, but I just LOVE books that can manage to suck me into the story right away! And it makes me smile that you compared the love triangle in this book to the one in TID because that was one of my favourites! :)

Amazing review, Brenna! Even with those things that you pointed out, this sounds like a pretty cool start to a new series! ;)

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I'm not religious so a lot of the subtle tones were totally lost on me when I read this.

I need to write my review of this but I felt like it was very predictable. It was pretty action packed and that's what kept me reading, but I felt like I didn't connect with the characters the way I was hoping.

Nice review. :)

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Bookluvr Mindy said...

I only just saw this book last week and your review is only the second I've read. Since you only thought it was meh, I'll hold off.

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