Natural Born Angel

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Natural Born Angel Book Poster Image
Sequel weighed down by focus on fame and abundant brands.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Even in the paranormal fantasy context, readers continue to get a sense of Hollywood life and what it could be like being a celebrity, as they did in the first book in the series, Immortal Angel.

Positive messages

Clear messages about trust, remaining true to family and friends, and believing in oneself.

Positive role models & representations

Maddy was a positive role model in the first book, but here she's become way too consumed with living the rich and fancy life of an angel and is no longer the average girl she was, although she does make positive moves to help people and change the angel pay-for-protection system.

Violence

The violence is more low-key in this sequel than in the first book. However, a pilot is killed in crash, a child and adults are killed in a fire, and a bomb explodes in a building, killing and injuring several minor characters.

Sex

Flirting, kissing, and caressing.

Language

"Bitch," "goddamnit."

Consumerism

As in Immortal City, Natural Born Angel brims with consumerism. Angels wear high-priced designer clothes like Oscar de la Renta, Free People, and Dior. They drive expensive cars like Ferrari, Jaguar, BMW, and Audi. Other brand mentions include iPhone, Blackberry, Mac, Nike, Twitter, Facebook and "SaveTube" (a stand-in for YouTube), actual Hollywood hotspot Urth Caffe, Seventeen magazine, and Teen Vogue. TV shows American Protection and A!, network ANN, and Angels Weekly magazine (which are plays on American Idol, E!, CNN, and Entertainment Weekly) appear as they did in the first book.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Older teens and adults drink.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Natural Born Angel is the second book in the Immortal City series, in which  angels are celebrities in a place very much like Hollywood. While the first book dealt with darker topics, such as a serial killer on the loose in Angel City, this one focuses on protagonist Maddy becoming an angel, getting angel training, and dealing with being in the constant spotlight. The novel deals with issues of celebrity, money, politics, religion, and crime. And like the first book, the sequel is loaded with brand-name items, high-end cars, and designer labels. There's some violence (people are killed in bombing attack and a fire) some swearing ("bitch," "goddammit"), teen drinking, and the sexual content is limited to flirting, kissing, and caressing.

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What's the story?

Maddy Montgomery discovers she's part-angel -- a surprise for everyone, including herself -- and cancels her plans to leave Angel City for college, figuring she can do more to help save people by being an angel. Yet, Maddy doesn't want to just save the rich who can afford protection; she wants to save anyone in need of help. As soon as word gets out that she's going through training to become a guardian, her popularity and fame soars -- leaving her relationship with Jacks to cool. But Jacks has his own problems and is having trouble dealing with Maddy's success, as well as her distance. Not to mention a fringe political group working to get a bill passed in Congress to stop angels from saving people. A war between humans and angels is on the horizon -- causing Jacks and Maddy to question which side they'll be on when the moment arrives for them to fight for their lives.

Is it any good?

While Immortal City, the first book in this series, dealt with angel murders and Maddy falling in love with angel hottie Jackson Godspeed, NATURAL BORN ANGEL turns the tables. It deals with Maddy's life as a half-angel and her newfound celebrity fame, interweaving a mystery and political subplot. Maddy remains an interesting character, and her love for Jackson stays constant, but her characterization seems off. In the first book, she was a regular teen girl who didn't quite get the angel phenomenon and was reluctant to embrace her feelings for one of the most popular angels. Now that she's discovered she's an angel and become famous because of it, she's addicted to designer labels and consumed by celebrity -- posing for paparazzi, driving fancy cars, attending events, and doing photo shoots for magazines.

Even though, it's part of her "job," it still seems out of character. Gone is the Maddy who felt comfortable wearing a hoodie and jeans, living with her Uncle Kevin, and making time for her boyfriend and friends. She also suddenly knows how to be an angel, which is a little implausible. Readers may be disappointed that Maddie is no longer "the girl next-door" but a rich, powerful, and well-dressed angel like all the others.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why books about angels are so popular. How do you think Natural Born Angels compares with the first book in the series, Immortal City?

  • What do you think about how Maddy's character evolves in the second book?

  • What are your thoughts on the protection-for-pay system, by which only the wealthy can afford protection? Is there anything similar in our society?

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For kids who love fantasy and mystery

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