2 February 2012
REVIEW: DESERT ANGEL
Author: Charlie Price
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Random House Children's Books
UK Release date: 2nd February 2012
Genre: YA Thriller
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
Fourteen year old Angel has been dragged across the country by a mother who cares about the no-good men she hooks up with more than she does for Angel. And the latest boyfriend is a real piece of work. He’s killed her mother, and now he’s coming after Angel. Can she outrun the hunter in the unforgiving desert, or can she learn to trust others?
Review: From the first page Desert Angel throws the reader straight into the conflict and danger of Angel’s life. The story was so gripping and tense that I didn’t want to put it down even when Scotty become hideously evil trying to kill Angel. Although the story was a thrilling cat and mouse chase, it also felt very real. I think because of Angel’s character and how well she was brought to life, the story felt human and personal, and I found Angel’s fears and thoughts were very tangible and easy to understand and sympathise with.
Right from the off I was rooting for Angel, even though she wasn't what you would naturally expect as a main protagonist. She was aloof and emotionally withdrawn, and prone to run at any conflict. Her mother had constantly neglected her and put her second to her latest boyfriend. She hadn’t had a good childhood, she didn’t get to make friends and play games, and you could see that the same was happening to little Norma, unless someone steps in. Just like Jessie was stepping in and being there for Angel, Angel was faced with the dilemma of whether she could do the same for Norma. And I have to say, I adored both Angel and Norma, especially when they were together – Norma’s thoughts and the way she described adult things was so funny and sweet, and you could see that underneath the grumpiness and hostility there was a lovely girl just waiting for someone to be there for her and love her.
It wasn’t just these two characters that I liked though; all of the people that helped Angel felt real, including their concerns of being discovered as illegal immigrants or fear of retaliation from Scotty. I think this is one reason why Jessie stands out as such a strong and positive character; ignoring all of the potential danger and taking Angel under her wing and acting more like a mother than her real mother had. Everyone should have someone like Jessie in their lives!
The harsh desert setting was interesting because it wasn’t something I had come across often in books. It felt stark and unforgiving and really added to Angel’s predicament. It also mirrored Scotty’s evil nature – both him and the desert were harsh, unrelenting and ruthless. At times, he felt like prey stalking its weak victim. I would have liked the story to continue for longer in the desert, as the start of the book felt more dramatic compared to when the setting changed to Angel living with others.
As a character, Angel goes through an emotional and rather reluctant development. For so long Angel had no one to rely on, no one to love her or look after her. But as she spends more and more time with Jessie and her family, and she finds people willing to protect her for no reason other than caring, Angel just doesn’t know how to deal with it. Her instinct is to run and hide; but for Angel that means being mercilessly hunted and tracked by Scotty.
A thrilling and emotional cat and mouse chase, Desert Angel is a ruthless hunt to the end.