Friday, 7 February 2014

Review: Don't Just Speak Love by Chalie Teh

Title: Don't Just Speak Love
Author: Chalie Teh
Release date: October 14th 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Format: eARC
Pages: 332
Source: Author

Eighteen-year-old Averie’s life is turned upside-down when she’s instructed by her long-missing mother to enroll in an international college despite her being a local. Soon after, Averie discovers she is a nephilim—part human part angel—and her young life drastically changes from awfully droning to incomprehensibly hectic as she juggles college work, bullying, demanding training sessions with a surprising fit seventy-year-old, family issues, and the one thing she’s most skeptical of: love. When adults in her life don't fulfill their rightful responsibilities, she’s forced to take those neglected responsibilities into her own hands and set everyone’s life back on the right track. With the aid of a special Japanese classmate Sasuke, and a fiercely determined and righteous attitude, will Averie be strong enough to overcome the challenges in her difficult adolescence?

When Chalie approached me with her YA novel Don't Just Speak Love, I was pretty excited since she's a Singaporean YA author. The first one I knew! And while reading this book, I felt that same thrill, because it's set here in Singapore. Knowing all the places mentioned felt pretty awesome to me. I liked that this novel melds together two paranormal concepts I'm really interested in - angels and the zodiac. It's unique, and it definitely works.

Averie has just enrolled in Black Gold, a college she'd never heard of before, but decided to do it anyway on her mom's advice. There, things start to seem a little weird around her. Okay, maybe a little more than weird. Like the fact that an old guy and a younger one teleport to her room. And her psychotic Chemistry teacher who seems to hate her on sight. When the old man introduces himself as Albion, the guy her mother told her to look for, Averie is sucked into a world she never knew existed. Luckily, she has someone alongside her to keep her sane - Sasuke, her partner-in-training. Averie discovers who she is and what she's meant to do, while testing the relationships around her.

Averie is definitely likeable, with a compassionate heart and quite a hot temper. She's far from perfect, but her flaws make her seem all the more real. Though at times, she acts a little juvenile for an eighteen-year-old. But nevertheless, I did enjoy reading from her perspective. She's easy to connect with and her honest nature was really refreshing.

I loved Sasuke, of course. He's one of the sweetest guys in YA I've come across. I admit I do prefer the bad-boy type usually, but guys like Sasuke are so adorable! I loved him right from the start. He's quite enigmatic in the beginning, but we soon find out why he acts the way he does. It's a little predictable once the hints start coming in, but I guess it's meant to be like that. And I definitely didn't see it coming before. Sasuke is totally perfect for Averie, and they're so protective of each other. What I loved about their relationship is that there was no sign of insta-love at all. They're friends, and then grow closer. It was really sweet seeing their friendship develop and morph into something new.

Like I've mentioned before, I adore the concept of this novel. The background we're given is just right - not too much, and yet not too little that the world-building would fall flat. I found it really cool learning about the four Archangels and their connections to the different zodiacs.

I do have a few qualms too, though. There were quite a few parts that I found a little too unbelievable. Why would Averie enroll in a new college she's never heard of just because her absentee mom sends her a note telling her to do so? Also, there was a part where Averie, Sasuke and their friend Chastity fly to Japan for a day to attend a concert. I get it was important for Chaste, but flying all the way there just for that is a little extreme. There were a couple of other little things too, but all of them collectively dampened what could have been quite realistic despite the paranormal nature.

I also felt things wrapped up a bit too fast, and too nicely. Towards the end almost everything was conveniently put in place. I'm glad there were no loose threads hanging, but I feel like this novel would have worked better as the start of a series, instead of a standalone. I would have liked to explore some of the other friendships and relationships in the book, but since everything is crammed into one novel, the secondary characters didn't get much of the spotlight.

I definitely liked the ending, though. It was cute and hopeful, with the casual humour that's present throughout. There are quite a few twists in the book, all of which I didn't see coming. That was great, because I love surprises in the novels I read. As long as they're not bad ones, of course. Overall, Don't Just Speak Love is a great YA paranormal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading a novel set in my country. I'd recommend this to any paranormal lovers out there who want something new.

*Thank you to Chalie Teh for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3.5/5

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