Having only been recently introduced to paranormal angel novels, I only really have Angelfall and Outcast to compare this to. But, if I am being honest with myself (and the GR crowd), I think I enjoyed this book the most. Aside from similar names (there are only so many angel names to go around!) and a kick ass heroine, Shadows had nothing in common with Angelfall. While it was similar in some ways to Outcast, I found it to be much more captivating, and I liked Gaby much more than Riley.
10 Things I Loved About Shadows
1. A twist on the usual approach to angel lore. There are archangels, angels, fallen angels (demons), Nephilim, Rephaim, and the lost ones (can't remember their name right now). The Rephaim attempt to distinguish themselves from the Nephilim, as they are trying to find their fathers (lost angels) and destroy them in order to get back into His good graces. Even though we have constantly re-occuring names in angel books (Rafael, Uriel, Gabriel, Michael, Nathaniel, etc.), it didn't bother me so much.
2. Characters. I really liked Gaby, Maggie, and Rafa. Gaby is a heroine that I can definitely identify with. Also, I'm very jealous of her job as a librarian. Maggie was a sweet and very touchy best friend, who unfortunately gets tangled up in the immortal battle around her. And Rafa is a sometimes-jerk, sometimes-sweetheart. I usually don't like characters like him, but his redeemable qualities outweigh his negative ones. Supporting characters were also fantastic...too many to list here, but I really enjoyed them. Except Daniel, because he has a stick up his bum.
3. New Adult vibe. This was key to my enjoyment of the novel. Gaby and Maggie are out of school and working. Maggie even had the chance to go to an upscale fashion university because she's so talented. It was just nice to read about people my age, rather than stupid little teenagers in high school that make ridiculous decisions and spend the majority of the book pining over the hot quarterback and slut shaming the cheerleader. The new adult vibe also led to:
4. Lack of Instalove. Thank you! I was a little worried at first, to be honest, because there was a scene where I went "really!? COME ON!" But it was rectified quickly. There are some cute relationships forming here, but there's just so much extraneous pressure that it's difficult to know how they will weather the next book. Anyway, I was happy with the 'love' scenes in this one.
5. Fast-paced plot. I started this book at 8 a.m., and literally had to force myself to go to the bathroom and eat lunch. I finished it in one sitting, simply because I couldn't stop. (Also, I had nothing to do at work because everyone's on vacation!). I didn't find that there were lulls, but if there were, I didn't notice them because I was so into the story.
6. The Feels! Gaby has just lost her brother. I've never lost a sibling, but I can imagine how devastated I would be if I did. Paula Weston did a fantastic job of making me sympathize with Gaby, and didn't make her too whiny or depressing. Which brings me to...
7. Writing Style. I loved it. I was drawn in from the start, and not once was I let down. There was no ridiculous description of Rafa's sexy six pack (I don't even know if he has one! After 400 pages...amazing!). Weston described the angels perfectly, without overburdening the narrative with silly adjectives used to describe their beauty.
8. Memory Loss. This can be a tricky one. Fortunately, Weston pulls it off. I can't say much here because I don't want to spoil it for everyone, but let's just say that it really helped the reader because we got to learn along with the characters, and weren't suddenly overburdened by the world of the angels.
9. Setting. Australia! What more is there to say? I don't know why it's so exotic to me.
10. World building. It wasn't over the top. There was no info dump, but it was comprehensive enough to help me understand what was going on. One minor confusion about the naming of specific angels/archangels etc, but I'm assuming a lot of the Rephaim were named after angels. Their fathers perhaps? I don't really know. But I still enjoyed the world-building and amount of thought that went into it.
Can you tell I really liked it? Thankfully, the second one came out in May, so I don't have to wait for ages to go on new adventures with these fantastic characters! Go...read it...you know you want to.