Official Rating: 3/5
“This is the Arena, and here we live to die.” These are the words carved into a holding cell where genetically altered gladiators, the winged humans called Galdoni, are trained to fight. Kale, rescued by three high school students and nursed back from the brink of death, is given the chance to experience life as a human. When he is captured, he has to use what he learned in the world outside the Academy in order to free the other Galdoni and return to the human girl he loves.
Dark and exciting, Galdoni pushes the boundaries of love in a world of violence.”
This was my first book about angels and the concept was interesting, I was skeptical but intrigued. However, I have to say that my skepticism was justified as I read this book.
There were so many loose ends, characters introduced that are obviously just to move the plot along and then never mentioned again, and strangely calm responses to dangerous situations. The cover was so gorgeous, yet this book didn’t do it justice.
Kale is a Galdoni, a genetically modified human with wings. His sole purpose? Fight for his life in dangerous arena battles. For a reason I won’t give away (because I forgot), all of the Galdoni are released from the Arena, Kale included. He’s strolling along the street and suddenly hears a boy screaming. Long scene cut short, he saves a younger Galdoni from being beat up by humans; however, he is badly injured in the process. Fast forward a bit and he is rescued by a family who happens to have a daughter his age. Which brings me to my first issue: The insta-love. There is simply no chemistry between Brie and Kale. None. She gives him a cup of water, giggles when he drinks it all (wow! You just got beat up within a centimeter of your life! Why are you so thirsty? *giggle giggle*), cuts his hair, and suddenly: “I love you.” “I love you too.” Cue the love-struck googly eyes. I still don’t understand what they see in each other. I’m also not sure why Kale even knows what love is. He hasn’t received it his whole life.
There were too many scenes where Kale is some kind of hero, but at the same time struggling not to kill people. The scenes aren’t very realistic and Kale is always getting into a fight and in the process, exposing his secret. For instance, he saves Allie (spoiler) from her abusive Dad, and Kale threatens her father not to tell anyone about him being an angel because “no one would believe you.” The thing is, yes they would. The Arena is aware that some angels are still out, if Allie’s Dad says anything, he will lead them right to him. And, as I said about characters being introduced and then never mentioned again to move the plot along, I don’t recall ever reading about Allie after her rescue. What happens to her? Don’t ask me. The whole point of her even being in the story was to further “prove” that Kale is some kind of hero that needs a chance or that he is just a misunderstood angel made to look like an animal. Which was, in fact, the point of the whole book, but could have been delivered a lot better.
To circle back to the issue with keeping secrets, Brie’s brothers are so uptight and strict about keeping Kale a secret from the rest of the world. One of them (I forget his name, all I remember is that it starts with a “J”) was adamant about kicking Kale out as soon as possible because they both want to keep Brie out of any possible harm. Yet, for no reason, they’re all but ready for Brie and Kale to get married (Mr. and Mrs. Vegetable), they enroll him in high-school, attempt to enroll him onto the football team, and get him a job. All he wears is a coat to hide his wings, aren’t they pushing the limits just a tad? Also, why doesn’t the school notice than an extra student has been added and doesn’t have any parents?
The uprising didn’t make much sense. In a ridiculous amount of books in the dystopian genre, a huge group of adults and teens and children all listen to the heroine, but they really don’t have any reason to. This was the case with Kale, only he’s, obviously, a hero. There isn’t any reason for anyone to listen to him when he speaks. He’s sixteen and not as powerful as the others. I’m not sure why they think he’s a leader because I didn’t see any qualities that would have made him one.
Finally, there was a painful amount of loose ends that were never tied up and I have so many questions after reading this book.
What about the Galdoni that attacked and killed some people? Were they punished? Why would the Arena even let the Galdoni go? Why not just shuffle them into some underground holding cell until they were ready to restart? Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense than letting them taste freedom before shoving them back in the arena? Weren’t the directors of the Arena the least bit concerned that that might start some kind of uprising? What happened to the boy who Kale saved? Why was the boy getting beat up? I know Kale said it was because he was a Galdoni, but Galdoni don’t really do anything wrong to other humans. They just do what they’re told and beat up other Galdoni, and the humans watch them kill each other for enjoyment so why beat up your own entertainment?
All in all, despite my negative points, it wasn’t terrible. It was interesting to read, despite the plot holes and loose ends. And the cover is rather cool. Would I recommend it? Maybe. If you’re terribly bored and want to just relax as you roll your eyes at some things. Otherwise, maybe not.