Title: Immortal City
Author: Scott Speer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Supernatural, Paranormal Romance
Binding: ARC Paperback (advance reader copy)
Length: 368 pgs
Published: 3 April 2012
Buy: amazon.com, bn.com
Synopsis: Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them. He is days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone's obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect - everyone except for Madison Montgomery. Maddy's the one girl in Angel City who doesn't breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn't recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love. Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson's scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi - and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat … and this time it's up to Maddy to save Jackson.
**The Following Review May Contain SPOILERS**
My Review: I won an early reviewer's copy of this book through Kristin's blog called GrowingUp YA which I am eternally grateful for.
Unlike the angel YA book I read before this one (Temptation of Angels) which was a complete disappointment, Immortal City was a fun, addictive read. The first chapter was a great opener and sets the tone of the story right away. Imagine this: a drunk rich kid (or young man) driving erratically down the road at night. Just as he weaves around a bend, he realizes too late that his car is about to hit into a truck. As the vehicles collide, he is suddenly pulled through his wind shield to safety by his guardian angel. His angel informs him that other then some superficial cuts and bruises, he will be fine and that the money for saving his life has already been transferred out of his account-- in the amount of $100,000 dollars. When the rich kid asks about the unfortunate driver of the truck whom he hit, the angel shrugs, stating simply, "He didn't have coverage." And thus begins the funny yet creepy premise of Immortal City-- angels are now "out of the closet" and only save those who can afford their prices in exchange for their services.
Along with Scott Speer's original and refreshing plot, so is his unique world building. Instead of pages and pages of angel mythology, the author explains his theories through Maddy's history class aptly called "History of Angels in America". So it almost makes the reader feel like they are learning this information with the characters. The fact that the history of angels has been added to high school curriculum also shows how important angels have become in modern society-- even if their significance has become misconstrued in many ways.
So now you are probably wondering not only why angels decided to reveal themselves to man, but how they could possibly save only those who can afford to be saved. Why would they charge people for their services? Well that is for you to find out. However, to sum things up, angels grew tired of seeing mankind self destruct. This idea is not that original and has been used in many books and movies before.
This leads me to my few minor issues with this book. I get that the angels somehow symbolize how we today obsess and idolize celebrities and put them on pedestals. It's a clever plot device. What left me confused is the whole religious aspect-- or lack there of. I'm not saying that every angel book has to mention God or choose a "side" or become preachy. However, I couldn't help but wonder where God is in all of this. Or is there no God, only angels? If God does exist in Scott Speer's mythology, then how can he sit back and allow angels to save only those who can afford their astronomical fees? How does it make them any better than demons and dark angels? God or any other higher entity is not mentioned in the book and I find that puzzling.
My other issue is Maddy's relationship with her uncle Kevin. She was just a baby when her parents were killed and Kevin took over as her guardian. Maddy calls him Kevin instead of uncle Kevin. Also, she thinks to herself at one point, "She loved Kevin dearly, but the fact of the matter was, he wasn't her parent. Some things were just private." Really?? I could see if her parents had died when she was 10 and then she had to live with her uncle. But for someone who has no recollection of her parents and has always lived with her uncle, I would think they'd have a closer bond.
My last gripe is the lack of romantic development between Maddy and Jackson. I am cool with authors who use the "love at first sight" technique. That doesn't bother me so much. However, there does have to be some sort of growth between the characters as the story progresses. The moment they shared in the back office of the diner was not a bad start. They both share the loss of a parent. Sadly, that is pretty much it for their similarities. Most of the novel is Maddy being angry or argumentative towards Jackson and Jackson occasionally wondering why she keeps popping into his head. While I think Scott Speer did a great job developing them as characters individually, their relationship seemed a bit...shallow. I guess what I am trying to say is I really wanted to like them as a couple but wasn't completely sold, even when things started to get more intense at the end.
Despite these things, I think Immortal City is a solid first book in what is sure to be a series based upon how it ended. I give this book a 4 out of 5 star rating because I have faith that the author can smooth out the kinks in the 2nd novel, such as more angel background and spending some more time developing the relationship between Maddy and Jackson.