Ellie is your typical 17 year old teenager except for the nightmares where she is fighting something dark and ugly. As her birthday approaches, a mysterious boy names Will turns up on the scene and she can't quite figure out if he is a nuts stalker or someone she should remember. Things around town get even more strange when her favorite teacher is found dead and the nightmares become reality. Ellie is much more than an average teen...she is the Preliator, reborn each time she dies to fight the creatures of the Grim. Wielding khpoesh swords and angel fire as an ancient warrior, her life become filled with hunting the reaper and trying to contain the forces of evil. Will, is much more than the dark and brooding young man watching her from afar. He is her Guardian, a tragic hero, sworn to put Ellie first and to protect her with his life over and over again. He is sent to reawaken her powers and her memories of past lives.
I truly enjoyed the history behind Will and Ellie. Will was my favorite character of the book: a conflicted character with a love he can't pursue. I admired his loyalty and selflessness. I admit I had a really hard time connecting with Ellie's character and growing to like her. The discrepancy between who she was as a teenager and who she is as the Preliator was too big of a stretch for me. And I couldn't buy the big reveal of her identity in the end.
Sadly, there was a lot that didn't work for me in this book. First and foremost was the violence. It was far above and beyond what we normally see in YA fiction and this would definitely be rated R if it were played out word for word on the screen. There were times I would describe the fight scenes are gory and unnecessary. There were also unfinished questions for me that I hope are addressed more fully in the sequel. What is up with Ellie's dad? Is he some possessed person now working for the dark side? He's downright abusive and the change is drastic from the way he was when Ellie was a child. Also, the angel mythology seemed to come out of the blue near the resolution of the book and I couldn't swallow it.
I'm on the fence about whether I would read the sequel. Will is a big draw for me, but it's not a book I would run out and buy. I wouldn't recommend it it for any child under 17 simply for the violence. As far as other content, there is brief mention of underage drinking and some domestic violence. I give it three stars. Angelfire is action packed with plenty of tension and an interesting premise, but a little too dark and gnarly for my taste.
Special thanks to Net Galley and HarperCollins for the preview.