About the book
Desert Angel is a stand-alone YA novel by Charlie Price. It was published on 2nd February by Corgi Children's and the book is 240 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Fourteen-year-old Angel wakes up one morning at her desert trailer home to discover her mother has been murdered by a lowlife named Scotty, who has vanished. Angel has no water, no weapon, but she knows that Scotty, an expert tracker and hunter, will surface soon in order to eliminate her as a witness. She has to run, to disappear, if she is to survive and tell the world what happened. Her flight takes her through a harsh landscape to places she never expected to be, forcing her to trust others for the first time and strengthening her in ways she doesn't even anticipate . . . until it's time to take a stand.
What I thought
When I read the synopsis for this book, I was quite excited. Although not the kind of thing I would normally read, Desert Angel sounded like a very intense thriller and it all seemed extremely exciting. However, that is not the story I actually got.
As you can see from the synopsis, protagonist Angel's mother has been murdered by her scummy boyfriend, leaving Angel to fend for herself. This is where I thought the story was going to be really exciting. As their home is a trailer in the desert, I figured that Angel would be left here to survive and to hide from Scotty. Instead, the time spent in the desert is very little and soon, Angel finds herself on the run, trying to get as far away as possible. I was quite shocked that this part of the story ended so suddenly. As Scotty is an expert tracker and hunter, I was thinking this would be a real cat and mouse kind of chase with not many places for Angel to hide. Taking this away from the story was a real let down and pretty much ruined the rest of the book for me.
While on the run, Angel actually finds herself surrounded by people willing or trying to help her. This is not the adventure I was expecting. As soon as Angel finds these people and begins to let them in a little bit, the story got quite boring and tame. Scotty is still lurking around in the shadows at this point but there is never a real sense of danger or that Angel could be in serious trouble. The fact that she ends up with somewhere pretty safe to stay and being surrounded by people took away a lot of the mystery and intensity that this book should have had. The characters introduced to help Angel though were great and it was nice to see that people were willing to help a complete strange who was in so much trouble and this made me remember again that Angel was only fourteen. The way that Angel acts and talks made me forget about her age a lot of the time and I think this was mainly due to her harsh upbringing and having to deal with a lot. Still, I would have liked to have seen her vulnerable side a bit more and for her to show her age.
Scotty was quite possibly the best character in Desert Angel although he wasn't used nearly enough. There is very little interaction with Scotty and this was disappointing. He is creepy as hell and I think, insane to go with it. The first scenes where we get to see Scotty in action, chasing Angel were disturbing and scary and I wished there had been more of this. Throughout the book, we know that Scotty is still hunting Angel but mostly from her point of view, not his. We barely see or hear from him apart from knowing that he is actually there. His absence took away most of the mystery and again, danger. I didn't feel that Angel was actually in danger for the most part and this was such a big aspect of the story.
The ending to Desert Angel was also disappointing. After the struggles that Angel had been through in this book, everything ended quite abruptly and there were a lot of unanswered questions. The ending was far too short and could have been drawn out much more for added impact. Angel had been through quite a lot, both physically and emotionally but this was never concentrated on. As a reader, I wanted to know how Angel was dealing with all of the craziness that had been happening around her for so long but I got none of this. All I got was a conclusion of the story without anything really being explained.
I had quite high hopes for this book but it wasn't for me at all and I struggled to even finish it.