Thursday, 6 October 2011

Book Review: Penitence

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing (29 April 2010)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1933963832
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933963839

Book Two. Seeing good and evil spirits is a gift Zoe guards with her life. Despite her guardian angel's disappearance, Zoe forces herself to accept that she still has a purpose-but how does she carry the weight of her brother's drug abuse, the hardship of living with an autistic sister, and a best friend who's obsessed with a guy who only wants Zoe? She's never felt more alone. When a mysterious spirit appears, Zoe thinks she has a new guardian angel. Instead, her brother's addiction worsens, her parents are on the brink of separation, and her best friend tries to kill her. The spirit she thinks is her new guardian isn't there to protect her: he's out to destroy her family and seize Zoe's soul. . . for Hell. Will Matthias' return mean that he is Zoe's guardian angel again? Or is their love the reason the jaws of Hell now gape open?

Penitience is the second book in the Heavenly series, picking up right where we left Zoe in Heavenly.

Jennifer Laurens eases us back into the story effortlessly, reminding us where the story ended in the last book without sounding repetitive.

When Zoe re-enters her body after experience perfection in Paradise, it’s clear she doesn’t want to be there. She wants to be back in the loving arms of Matthias where there is no pain, only love and absolute certainty of what she craves.

Matthias doesn’t appear like Zoe expects him to. She pleads and prays for him to come to her…and his absence cuts deeper than the glass wounds from her accident. Zoe’s aunt steps in as Abria’s guardian, only confirming Zoe’s worst fears that something has happened to the love of her life.

Even though life without Matthias doesn’t feel like living, Zoe knows she must pick herself up and move through life regardless. If not for her sake, than her family’s, which is hanging together by a thread. Zoe’s stoner brother, Luke, falls off the wagon and hits the booze and weed heavier than ever before. Her parents are arguing more and more, and the students of Pleasant Grove High School are getting increasingly out of control. Especially best friend Britt…and Zoe’s worst nightmare, Brody.

The opening pages of Penitence are stark and brutal to read. Zoe’s raw agony radiates off the page and sinks deep under the skin of the reader. While it is uncomfortable, it is not off-putting, and only draws the reader further into Zoe’s world…making it come alive around them.

There wasn’t a point in this book where I wanted to put it down. It quickly became one of my ‘just one more chapter’ kind of reads. You know, where you tell yourself just one more chapter before doing the dishes. Just one more chapter before turning out the light at bedtime. Just one more chapter before I get off my butt and go to work.

The characters of Penitence were outstanding. Usually, secondary characters can get lost in the story, become under developed and uninteresting. Never with Jennifer Laurens. I enjoyed wondering where their characters would go, what they would do next…who would fall victim to the evil spirits lurking around Zoe’s friends and family.  

As always, I adore Jennifer Lauren’s style of writing. Many authors, YA ones in particular, stay away from harsh topics, sugar coat things rather than tell it like it is. Jennifer Laurens isn’t afraid to look beneath the surface, write about real problems and how teenagers actually act. A lot of people could benefit from her writing – teens and parents alike. Especially with the Heavenly series.

Penitence ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers gasping for more. As for me? I’m way more than eager for the final part of the Heavenly series – Absolution


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