Review: ‘Neophyte’ by Emmalee Aple

So, you die. And now, you’re an angel. Sort of. Addisyn White perished just a few months shy of her high school graduation. Reborn as a neophyte, she has a few years to lose her humanness and become a full-fledged angel. She lives with her Link, a quasi-commune of angels that are banded together. One of the angels is her partner, Hunter, who she is bonded to for all eternity. Another of the angels is her crush, Greysan.

The Link has taken a hiatus from their seraphic day jobs to train Addi during her change to full angel. She knows absolutely nothing about the process, and it seems they are bent on keeping it that way. Addi does not understand why they won’t tell her everything she needs to know about being an angel and why the head of the link, Everett, feels she must be kept in the dark. She’s not brand-new, after all; she has already been a neophyte for two years. Teenage tantrums and selfish acts ensue, which put Addi and her Link in harm’s way. For you see, there are other Links, and leader of another Link is determined to force Addi into his Link.

I am torn. The premise of the book and the story is interesting; the writing is a good C-plus/B-minus. I am a huge fan of angel stories. While reading, however, I kept picturing an accordion; an accordion that is in the closed position. I so dearly wanted the author to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the book so I didn’t feel like all the action (and no rest from it) was crammed into a too-short amount of pages. The pacing, however, had the opposite problem. While I think it extremely important to “hold out” on some key information to give the tale more mystery and drama, it can be tedious if overdone. Also, I understand what an angel is and where, supposedly, they come from. For a book that is secular in nature (as much as angels can be secular), there are a couple of times where God and praying is mentioned in a definite religious manner. These, along with one instance of the F-word, are jarring.

The lack of information that Addi was given regarding all things angelic makes for much tension. Honestly, the only point of not giving her this knowledge was to invent drama where it was wasted. Soon a pattern emerged: information withheld; fit thrown; selfishness ensues; bad thing happens; Link saves. It became a little hard for me to believe that those who were supposed to be teaching and training were not teaching and training. On the other side of the coin, Addi’s continued refusal to do what they asked got old. I didn’t want all of the drama to be there; I needed something more. Focus should have been on the other Link and the “bad” angels, Sebastien and Farran, as well. Then, about mid-way through the book, there is a huge but unexplained fight between her crush angel and her partner angel. I never understood exactly what happened there.

For some reason, Addi was made to repeat her senior year at a nearby high school. Is this to accentuate her age or the fact that she is still part human? Whatever the thinking, this part should be either expanded upon or removed completely. It was a distraction in that it did not seem to have any point in being in the story. One peeve I had was the character names, or rather, the cutesie-poo spellings. I understand wanting to have interesting names, and so many seem to have already been “taken;” but it was like having your tweenager do the work. I found it distracting and unsophisticated.

Lastly, the writing. The author communicates too much like a person thinks; it’s a little disjointed, with run-on sentences. There are way too many interruptions trying to amp up the drama. There was some misuse of metaphors, improper word usage and spelling errors. For example, “shutter” instead of “shudder;” “lips like two starving piranhas;” “mumble out a curse;” “awarding himself a grunt.” Also, the author needs to clarify for herself the difference between the use of “lay” and “lie.” The heroine’s constant chewing on the inside of her cheek makes me think it is more obsession than nervous habit. The worst offender, though, is the “code” words that Addi and Greysan come up with: sweet beef and funky muffin. Gross. Even if not meant as innuendo, clunky, clunky, clunky. Embarrassing.

Overall, I think readers who enjoy the paranormal/angelic experience will like Ms. Aple’s story. There will be a sequel, so maybe many of the answers that were held back in volume one will be answered.

2 of 5 Stars

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Angel

Ages: Not stated. Mild kissing; no profanity except one-time use of the F-word

Neophyte by Emmalee Aple was published February 21, 2012 by Smashwords. A free copy of this book was received  by Ink and Page in return for an honest review.

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