Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Halflings

HALFLINGS (Halflings #1)
Heather Burch
Paranormal Young Adult
288 pages
Zondervan Publishing
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.

With Halflings we literally hit the ground running, dropped into the story as our heroine is fleeing a quartet of hellhounds intent on torturing and maiming her for reasons we can only guess. The story continues to progress at a fairly quick clip with Nikki constantly running afoul of trouble of the supernatural variety, and while events happen swiftly one after the other, the mythology of the halflings sent to protect her as well as the mystery of why Nikki even requires protection unfolds a bit slowly and not altogether clearly. Despite our confusion and the fact that fallen angels are certainly nothing new to young adult literature, Ms. Burch’s halflings are an intriguing addition to the already existing mix, their half-fallen angel, half-human status making them outcasts of both Heaven and earth, destined to constantly battle for those who refuse to accept them as one of their own.

When the first chapter has Nikki bravely facing down the nightmarish hounds without so much as a whimper of fear, we can’t help but smile to ourselves and prepare to fully support a girl with an iron will and a strong survival instinct. Unfortunately, though we are told repeatedly that Nikki has been thoroughly trained in martial arts and can more than handle herself, we almost never see her put those skills to use, instead one of the halfling boys always seems to swoop in and pluck her from danger’s desperate grasp. This fact does get acknowledged about halfway through, with Raven offering to teach her to defend herself, but even after their one brief session it’s still difficult to fully believe in Nikki’s ability to do any harm as we really never see her try.

Additionally, though we are prepared for a love triangle based on the synopsis, the key points of the shape itself never seem to truly form, with Mace being the primary interest (which is perfectly fine, the less of an actual triangle there is, the better in my opinion) and Raven acting as the quintessential bad boy giving the good boy a half-hearted run for his money when it comes to the girl. As with Nikki’s defense skills, we’re simply told she has feelings for both boys, but at no point do we feel the chemistry ourselves, the relationship between the three of them remaining a flat piece of unblemished glass, missing those scrapes, scratches and cracks that make things so much more interesting and beautiful for the imperfections. The dirt, the grit, and the darkness are missing even though we read words that tell us those elements are present, and we’re left with characters who are clean and shiny and a bit less memorable as a result.

The consistently fast pace of this tale has us reaching the last page in record time, yet after reading the last sentences we realize that despite the nearly 300 pages we’ve just devoured, we don’t know that much more about Nikki or the halflings than when we started. Obviously in a series not every little detail can be revealed in the first book or logically the subsequent books would have nowhere to go, however, the final chapters are a bit of a jumble of love, loss, and nagging questions that leave us wishing a little more time had been taken here and there to help guide us through a world that has the potential to be infinitely fascinating.

Rating: 2/5


  1. Awh. I was really excited to get started on reading this book, but now I'm not too sure. I LOVE how even though you didn't enjoy this book completely, you still wrote a very respectful and wonderful review. I think I'll still give this a shot, though I'm sorry you didn't like it all that much. :(

    Fabulous review, Jenny! <3

  2. Oh no! It's always a bummer when you read a book that feels like it only skims the surface of the world and characters. :( But the way you describe Raven's part in the love triangle made me grin because that's exactly how some love triangles are written LOL! x)

    Still, thank you so much for the beautiful honest review, Jenny! Like Sophia said, I love how you didn't write rude things about the author & book just because you didn't enjoy it -- you always write some of the most thoughtful reviews and I'll thank you a million times for your honesty! :) <3

  3. I have to say that I really dislike when books feed us information (like the MC is a fighter) and then never actually puts that into action. We need to be shown, not told.

  4. Great, honest thoughts, Jenny. As ALWAYS I love reading what you have to say.

    Mixed reviews are to me like fuel to a fire and I have read a few that make this one sound like the next big thing. So of course my curiosity just has the best of me to make my own opinion. Halflings sits patiently for me to get to as soon as my little eyes can get to it.

    Thanks gal!

  5. Oh no, a 2...:( I got this for review a few months ago and Jenny Im surprised you read this one...its an Inspy... but I heard it was Crossover so who knows. Ill have to read it and then we can compare thoughts...:D

  6. Sophia - You should absolutely give it a shot, things that bothered me might not bother everyone:) I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

    Mimi - Yep. I never felt like it was a triangle (which was a good thing in some ways) because I didn't feel anything for him, but all of a sudden Nikki says she's in love with him too and I was all "huh?" And thank you for the compliment on the review, I think there are positives and negatives to every story, so I just try to summarize those as best I can:)

    Amanda - Exactly! It was mentioned several times that she was a black belt, but she never lifted a hand in her own defense. I kept waiting for it:(

    Asheley - I feel the same way! I love when a book gets opinions on the opposite end of the spectrum, it makes me want to read it all the more to see where I fall! Let me know what you think when you're done!

    Tina - Honestly? I wouldn't have picked it up if it hadn't been sent to me, but it was fun to read something different even if it really wasn't for me. It has a lot of potential though, I liked the idea of the halfling mythology a lot, I just didn't feel like by the end I knew anything concrete about them.

  7. Interesting. I got this book at ALA. I'm sure I'll feel about the same as you but I'll give it a go.
    Thanks for being honest.

  8. I like a female MC to fight and stand up for herself. Having a male swoop in and save her would drive me nuts and completely turn me off. I'm going to take a pass on this one. Thanks for your honest opinion, Jenny!

  9. One of the hardest things to do as a writer is to SHOW and not tell. I stress this constantly with my students (and myself!) but it's so difficult. Showing the girl kicking butt with the help of a guy would have been a lot more helpful than the guy swooping in and saving someone who supposedly can take care of herself.

    As always, a fab review--even when the book's not your fave, I love how you are such a conscientious reviewer! :)

  10. Karen - You'll have to let me know what you think if you do!

    Rummanah - Me too! I don't mind if she starts off a little unsure of herself as long as we see some growth, but Nikki is the strongest in the beginning and then we never really see her fight after that.

    Mary - Exactly. She kept putting her hands in a "fighting stance", but she never actually used them to defend herself.

  11. Ya, angel books haven't really been my jam lately. Too bad the development for relationship and characters seemed to fall flat. I hate when books TELL me something rather that showing me dialogue and events that LET ME FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF. I know it's a truly hard thing to do as an author because all the development is hard to portray to an audience when you are developing multiple characters, but it is pretty much the JOB of the author to do it. *sigh* Okay, hopefully that made sense.

    On a second note, I've been DYING to talk to someone about Pretty Crooked. I liked the first bit, but by the end I was upset. Plus, calling Paradise Valley a small town is like calling Dublin a small town. The whole dang city connects to Phoenix and Scottsdale without a break, just like Dublin is a part of Columbus. Funny how these are the things I get stuck on. Thoughts?

  12. That's too bad there wasn't any real chemistry or very good character development.
    I haven't been into angel books too much lately. There are some good ones I like but I've read a lot that are definitely not my thing.

  13. I hate reading a book that doesn't go anywhere. I especially don't like getting any answers. A skilled writer wraps up many issues, answers questions and present new ideas for the next book. Thanks for the fair and honest critique Jenny! Enjoy your weekend.

  14. Jen - Agreed. I can't imagine how difficult it is to "show", but I just wasn't feeling any of the connections between the characters. And I felt the same about Pretty Crooked! I was good for the first half and then it went downhill a bit for me after that.

    Candace - I thought the halflings were interesting and I liked how separate they were from both angels and humans even though they shared traits of both, but I was invested in any of them.

    Heidi - The ending was a bit of a mess for me, I didn't quite understand some of the things that happened and it ended very abruptly. I'm hoping more is explained in the next book.

  15. The action sounds wonderful, but I can see this really frustrating me to no end. I need some of that detail. If nothing more but to connect to the characters and their plight. Oh I think I may hold off on this one for now.

  16. Nice review :) I easily entertained and the fact that it was sort of like twilight for me I like it. It just felt similar :)

  17. Nice review :) bummr it was not 4u
    it was a 1 /5 for me

  18. Hold up! If you are gonna give me a love triangle, I at least need to feel the sizzle between all the players involved! You know?

    Angel stories have always been hard for me to get into, so I just don't think this would be one for me.

  19. I'm so sorry this didn't work for you. But I appreciate your honest review.

  20. Ouch. I saw this one at ALA, but I never got a chance to read it. I think I'll put off on it though. Thanks for the honest review, Jenny!

  21. Aw, Jenny! :( I know you told me when you read my review that you didn't like it nearly as much, but still I'm sads.

    At the same time, I found your review exciting to read just because it came from a different perspective than my own and I COULD UNDERSTAND some of your points. Others, of course, I didn't agree with, but hey, that happens all the time, right? Still, I'm glad there were minor things you liked :)


  22. Jenny-

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head with your review as far as how I felt about the novel. I couldn't finish it. I never do that. I just felt like I was reading the same page over and over. I won't be reading any sequels. Very nice review pointing out what did and didn't work!


  23. I actually wasn't planning on reading this one so I'm glad that I'm not missing some great book ... As usual, great review Jenny :) !!

  24. I am evil..but I am kind of glad you only gave it a 2 cos I have gotten way too many recommendations from this blog lately ;)
    Told you I am horrid

  25. Thanks for the honest review, Jenny! Sorry you didn't enjoy this one more - I'm really not sure if it would be the book for me either. It sounds a little too similar to a lot of other books I've read.

  26. Gosh thank you for this Review!!! I started it some time ago and while I liked the action right at the beginning I didn't really get into the story at all.. I kept reading and reading but ... I just didn't connect to Niki or the boys! We were thrown too fast into the paranormal element in my opinion, there was no time to adjust and discover.
    Fact is, I didn't finish it mainly because there were so many awesome books waiting for me that I didn't want to waste my time with a book I didn't feel...

    Again, you and me seem having the same tast! *hugs*

  27. Reminds me of a soap opera...stuff happens but then you realize that nothing gets resolved!

  28. Oh boy... I have this book on my Nook, and now I can't decide if I want to read it or not! The only plus is that it would be a quick read. Not sure I would get along with the heroine much, and that could be a problem.

    :) This is the first review I've read for the book! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  29. Oh, it's always a bummer when a book ends up disappointing you in the end. Regardless, thanks for your honesty :)