- Writing quality. I want to elaborate more on this. What the hell is good writing? My college creative writing students have asked me that on many occasions--usually, of course, when it's evident that theirs isn't. I usually keep it to ultra-fancy words: engagingly robust...verisimilitudinous. Becca Fitzpatrick commands her diction, controls her figurative language, economizes her imagery. It's a rich and fast (like Aphrodite from House of Night).
- Titillation. I got the nether-region rollercoasters a couple times. I disagree with the Amazon reviewers who call Patch another Edward. Edward is like a silicon oven mitt. Patch is like warm honey. He's versed in aggressive innuendo, and you get the feeling that he's probably pretty good on the follow-through, too.
- Realistic girl/boy attraction issues. Of all the parapseudos I've read, this is the only one where the main male love interest is in a constant state of Must-Remove-Her-Pants. Nora is scared of Patch, not necessarily because he's dark and mysterious--but because of he makes her want to unleash her inner passion flower. And speaking of flowers, we have no idea whether she's a virgin or not, and there's no sense of humiliation that goes with her sexuality. She's not thrilled about the attraction, but it's not an abomination. She's not afraid that she'll lose her reputation, her pride, her soul. And Patch certainly isn't worried about it, either.
- Natural teen talk. It's told from a sophomore's P.O.V., but it lacks the immaturity of that awkward adolescent phase. It's also no "Dawson's Creek," where all the 15-year-olds speak like Troilus and Cressida. Here I'll bring out the big gun: verisimilitude. Instead of ramming ridiculous slang into every corner of my brain (a la P.C & Kristin Cast), it's like having a conversation with one of my high school tutoring students.
- Stand-alone potential. A reader could stop right here. Yes, there are a couple more (so far), but the narrative arc plays out. You don't feel like you're reading a set up for a slew of future exploits.
- A mother who gives a damn about what happens to her daughter. To a point, anyway. I get it: what teen girl wants to read about a character with parents as strict as her own? However, in so many of these novels (as I've commented before), the parents are absent, uncaring, foolish, blind, or otherwise incapacitated to the point that the protagonist must essentially raise her- or himself.
- Mythos. I love the idea of fallen angels, and in this one, I love the V scar where a fallen angel's wings have been ripped off. I'd like a LOT more about the ranks of angels, their jobs, what roles they've played in history, etc. And I'd like to see more than one fallen angel--maybe one who's more demonic than longing for humanity. Then they could fight, ripping each others' shirts off and sweating all over the place! Do angels sweat?
- Characterization. I have to admit that these people aren't the most dynamic I've encountered. Patch remains Patchy. Nora remains Norish. Vee never learns. I place Nora--the protagonist--between the two secondary characters because that's kind of where she is on my spectrum of interest. Patch is definitely the most interesting of the three, and I always have a problem when I prefer the secondary characters.
- Names. First, the title. Every time--and I mean every time--I read the title, I hear one of two things: 1) Paula Abdul singing "Rush, Rush" or 2) me being a bitch and chirping "Hush, hush, children!" when my college students are chatting when I'm trying to impart my immense wealth of indispensable knowledge unto them. Then there's Patch. How is Patch the name of a sexy fallen angel? And Vee. I'm not going to get into why that name bugs me. I'm sure you can imagine.
- Positioning of climax. There is a massive amount of rising action, and it leads to a revelation that should've taken place much sooner. In this way, Twilight got something right. Bella figures it out pretty early, whereas Nora doesn't get into the angel stuff until the story's wrapping up. Maybe that's a little extreme. But I had a hard time with the wrap up. It didn't seem rushed, really. It was just all crammed into the last 1/3 of the story.
- Prologue. It's disconnected from the rest of the story. It takes place in some distant marshland like 500 years before Nora and Patch flirt their way through Maine. I can go for that...as long as there's some sort of flashback here and there that links the prologue to the dynamics of the plot. Or at least a couple tangible clues.
- Elliot and Jules. These characters are placeholders. Elliot actually has a reason to be there, but without that prologue connection, he's just a confusing ass. Jules is so mysterious that he's a mystery until the end of the mysterious mystery of part of the plot.
The next one in this series is called Torment. I only hope that it's not an authorial promise.