In Henderson’s (Branded, 2011) YA novel, an unhappy, insecure 16-year-old meets a pair of “gorgeous” twin boys who reveal her true purpose in life.
Hayden Heyer’s first day of school starts off with the typical hiccups. A trip to the office to get help with her broken locker only compounds things when she spots identical, blue-eyed James and Joe Sparks, new to Henderson High—and, eerily, in almost every one of her classes. At first, she plays coy and even tries to avoid the two. Once she realizes her new relationship riles the entitled “fembots” at school, she accepts their friendly advances, which include lessons on meditation and how to live a healthier lifestyle. When a local gang confronts the trio, the twins begin to reveal their true identities as immortal “protectors,” second-class angels sent by God to train Hayden to control the elements and “round ball-like spheres” of energy so that she might fulfill her heavenly duty as a “balancer” on earth, “able to handle any physical problem like: protecting an innocent, freeing the trapped, or stopping a crime.” What she can’t handle is her heart as she struggles to decide which of the Sparks brothers she loves. Ethereal in both subject and style, Henderson’s book doesn’t rise to the challenge of its promising beginning. Told in first-person, the story switches verb tenses and repeats words frequently: On one page, characters “scan” the cafeteria (twice) before “scanning” the menu. The dialogue smacks of melodrama, and the abuse of adverbs is constant: “ ‘You throw like a girl,’ James commented competitively.” The dearth of conflict or character development, despite Henderson’s lofty imaginary tangents, confounds. For a few maddening chapters, the reader follows Hayden and her slightly sociopathic guardians as they go to the mall to shop. Without climax or resolution, the book sputters to an undramatic cliff-hanger—and the promise of a sequel—without providing much satisfaction.
A well-imagined premise with a flat narrative arc.