Destroying Angel by Missy Wilkinson
Publisher: Prizm Books (Torquere Press)
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (216 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Gates McFarland’s mother has just been proclaimed brain dead by a neurologist. But fifteen-year-old Gates doesn’t believe it’s true, because she hears her mother’s voice in her head. The command is simple: Find my heart. It’s the last thing Gates hears from her mother before the neurologist pulls the plug.
After contacting the Organ Procurement Agency, Gates learns there is no record of her mother’s organ donation. She meets Dr. Ascuitto, her mother’s neurologist. A menacing figure, he threatens to institutionalize Gates if she continues her inquiries.
Determined to find the truth, Gates gets help from John Ed, a street-smart, sixteen-year-old recovering addict. Together, they navigate an underworld of body theft, interstellar drug trafficking and doctors who double as dealers. She finds herself attracted to John Ed’s musical talents and emotional strength even as she is drawn ever-deeper into an alien world accessible only by use of a hallucinogenic spore. Hostile and governed by a sinister waif named Penny, the world holds secrets about Gates’ mother’s death…and the key to Gates’ survival.
Grief does funny things to people, but that doesn’t mean that it can explain all of the peculiar things going on in Gates’ life at the moment.
I’ll be honest here. It took me a quite a while to warm up to Gates due to how her biggest flaws influenced the way she reacted to adversity. She was the kind of protagonist that took a while to grow on me, but once I’d spent more time seeing the world from her perspective I understood why Ms. Wilkinson wrote this character the way she did. Gates has a complex backstory that influences almost every part of her life in the present. In the end, I was glad that she was written the way she was. The more I learned about her, the more I liked her!
There were some pacing issues in the beginning. This book included several subplots that needed to compete for attention during the first several chapters. While they were all incredibly interesting and important for later scenes, it was a little overstimulating to be introduced to all of them so rapidly. It almost felt like there were a few completely different stories being told in the same novel at first. I definitely wanted to know more about all of them, but I would have preferred to have more time being introduced to one of them before the others showed up.
Several of the plot twists caught me by surprise. The hints about them were subtle enough that I didn’t quite piece everything together in time, and this isn’t something that usually happens to me. What I appreciated most about these plot twists, though, was how well they fit in with the clues about what was going on that showed up early on. Everything made logical sense once the narrator showed me what I’d been missing.
Destroying Angel is a good choice for anyone in the mood for something quirky.