A Need So Beautiful
by Suzanne Young
This was almost a really great book. Angel books are tricky anyway, perhaps because they can’t rely so much on the sexy-dangerous vibes of other paranormal creatures such as vampires or werewolves, and then there’s a certain expectation of a higher purpose being fulfilled. It’s a fine line to balance that greater calling along with making a character relatable and sympathetic, so it’s no wonder that we don’t see very many good ones. It’s very strange, then, to find an angel YA book that does the most difficult elements of an angel book very, very well, but somehow falls short in the everyday life stuff.
Charlotte is an angel whose purpose is to help those in need, but she’s destined to be forgotten by everyone she has ever known. Day by day, her Need grows stronger and her ties to the earth grow more tenuous, and Charlotte becomes increasingly distraught over the thought of having to leave everyone she loves behind, including her adoptive family, her best friend, and her boyfriend Harlin.
The way that Charlotte’s purpose is described, and the anecdotes with her fulfilling her Need, are well-written and appropriately serious, and I enjoyed the rather lovely imagery of piece by golden piece of her true skin being revealed each time she helps someone. What moved me to a surprising degree, however, were the moments when Charlotte realizes the terrible price she must personally pay for this calling, and her unhappiness when she thinks about having lived a life that no one else remembers. Memory is an important part of our human experience, and the loneliness of Charlotte’s plight seemed unbearably sad to me.
This story’s greatest weakness, however, is an overemphasis on Charlotte’s relationship with–you guessed it–her boyfriend Harlin. We haven’t even gotten to know her very well before we’re entrenched in the hot and heavy goings-on of their (already existing) relationship. It’s always annoying when books that aren’t specifically romance novels spend so much time focusing on the boyfriend, and it’s especially irritating when one of the two is an angel who should be worried about much more important things. The really good angel books are the ones that manage to find a good balance between human life, angel duties, and romantic entanglements, such as Unearthly or Angel Burn or Mercy. I wish that A Need So Beautiful had spent less time on this rather uninteresting romance (which has a too-neat, easily guessed twist at the end) and more time fleshing out the other elements in the story.
Still, the ending was pretty awesome, and the angel parts were interesting enough that I’ll be checking out the next book to see where the story goes. I’m a little afraid of the sequel’s blurb, however, since it seems to emphasize the relationship aspect even more. I really, truly hope that’s not the case, since the other elements of this scenario that are so much more engaging, and there’s potential for a great angel series…if only we could, once again, take the focus off the hot boy.
Rated 3. 5 out of 5 stars