Halo is a teen book by a teen author, and though it flows better than her first attempt and is evidence of a vivid imagination, it is not the kind of story I’d recommend anyone to read.
While published as a mainstream book for a mainstream audience, it is essentially a Catholic Twilight. The story has an interesting but highly problematic premise: Angels come to live on earth in human form on a mission to overcome the evil taking over the world. They have a remarkable resemblance to certain notorious vampires with their striking good looks and translucent skin, etc, etc.
The youngest angel-human, Bethany, is the focus of the story. She has a soft heart and a weakness for everything human/material because she finds it more interesting than the spiritual realities of heaven. She (first problem, angels don’t have gender) falls in love (second problem) with a human boy and looks for a way to stay on earth because she’s happier here than in heaven… after all, she’s never even seen God (and the problems keep coming).
I’d have to call this a serious misrepresentation of Christianity, even though the author throws in brief, positive messages about Sunday Mass and the local parish priest. Its shallow, sentimental view of faith tries to demonstrate the power of good (love) to overcome evil (selfishness), except the ‘love’ shown is really just as selfish, so there’s no distinction between good and evil at all.
There is very little character development, in its place once again we see highly sentimental Twilight fluff. There’s lots of kissing and some discussion of going all the way, though she says ‘he’s not after that’. In one scene they sleep in a bed together without most of their clothes, but just holding each other for comfort – not more – which reminds me of the unrealistic ‘restraint’ demonstrated in Twilight.
It shows a very limited understanding of love: it is all about physical and emotional attraction but no real knowledge of the other person. She’s just certain they’ll be together because their love is so strong that Heaven would never want to separate them.
There is so much more to love than this. Some books for teen girls which do it better justice: Crown Duel and it’s prequel A Stranger to Command by Sherwood Smith, A Posse of Princesses by the same author, Stargirl and Love Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and even Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. (Please note I do not recommend some of the other titles by these authors.)
Not-surprisingly there is a third person who causes trouble, a ‘bad angel’ who shows an interest in Bethany and is trying to draw her to the dark side. She fights him off but he has the last say, so there will probably be a sequel.
Ok, some people say, it’s just a story, it’s imaginative and readable. But like Twilight it shows these misrepresentations as emotional truth and tries to convince the reader that they are desirable. And because it weaves Christianity through a story of such questionable value its effect becomes all the more serious.
Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is the manager of Portico