About the Series
Book 1: "In the first book of the Halflings Trilogy, Nikki Youngblood discovers she’s the central force of a madman’s plan, and turns to three half-angel boys for protection. With the Halflings, she’s completely safe. Everything except her heart. And Mace’s soul. Falling for him could ensure his eternal ruin."
Book 2: "In book two of the Halflings Trilogy by author Heather Burch, Nikki Youngblood discovers there might be more to her gifts than simply Seeing—making her a central part of Damon Vessler’s plans. Mace and Raven are forced to work together to keep Nikki safe, but will their love and protection be enough to keep Nikki from the future set before her?"
Book 3: "In the third book of the Halflings series from author Heather Burch, Nikki must finally make a decision—not only which Halfling boy she will give her heart to, but where she stands in the supernatural war her godfather has unleashed. Though first she must ward off a demonic Seeker that is intent on ending her life."
[Book descriptions from the Blink YA Books website.]
Haflings sets the stage by introducing some interesting characters and creating a good bit of intrigue about who Nikki is and what all the hoopla is about (i.e.: why everyone is either chasing her or determined to protect her from the ones chasing her). Guardian continues the romantic drama created in the first book by adding some rather fantastical plot twists (including a yacht ride to Europe vs. flying there) and keeping the Nikki pendulum swinging between her two admirers. Avenger adds a bit more depth by raising the stakes, giving the characters some maturity, and forcing the characters to face what needs to be faced (no matter how painful the revelations are) and decide what they're willing to fight for - and sacrifice for.
Through the books - especially in Guardian - it felt a bit like the Halflings were some sort of "Avengers" or "Justice League" group. It was like they were super heroes with special powers called upon to save the world - or at least their assigned problem in the world. I think this impression was supported by the faith aspect, especially the take on prayer that bothered me in Guardian. There's one scene where Will - the guardian of Vine, Mace, and Raven (the Halflings initially assigned to Nikki) - told Nikki to pray, pointing out the supernatural realm where angels were fighting to keep death from entering the scene and taking certain lives. When Nikki prayed, it came across (to me) as a matter of course vs. a genuine communication with an omnipotent God. She even asks something after saying a prayer to the effect of, "Did I do it?" as if she was the one who was responsible for any change in the situation. That attitude seemed to permeate a lot of the series - a focus on the deeds of the angels and Halflings rather than the source of their strength in the One they were supposed to be serving. The references to "the Throne," while in keeping with the feeling of a group of soldiers getting orders from the General, kept the faith element from really feeling personal or authentic to me.
Like I noted before, it's sometimes hard to keep in mind that this is mainly fantasy, especially when Scripture
is noted in defense of why certain things are the way they are in the story. When biblical references are used to support certain theories presented in the books, I can't help but wrestle with them. I know, I know - it's fiction, and the books certainly don't attempt to tell you otherwise! Yet, it was hard to mark the distinction between when the books were exploring interesting ideas for the sake of a good story, and when they were trying to convey certain beliefs beyond the fiction. I guess it just ended up being more confusing than inspiring or convicting in a theological sense.
As for the plot and the characters, there were some things that bugged me: Nikki's role, especially, as well as the repetitive back-and-forth interactions between her and her two guys. I could sympathize with her often enough to keep me reading, but her flip-flopping emotional extremes and her drastic personality shifts from warrior to wounded girl did annoy me. I admire that she was supposed to be a "tough" heroine, and I certainly understand why she had difficulty figuring out her affections when both boys did crazy things to her heart. But when Nikki noted in Halflings that she had taken six years of martial arts and was therefore basically able to take on any man, I scoffed. I realize that different types of martial arts can better prepare you for real-life combat than others, and different people can learn more quickly than others, but still...six years? That hardly makes anyone an expert in any field, especially considering Nikki is a teenager! (Yes, this is sort of a minor element I'm picking on, but the whole martial-arts thing didn't jive with me. Nikki ended up being open to learning more about fighting techniques, but I guess it was more that her character's personality and activities didn't always mesh for me, in general.)
Despite my complaints, I did find the books to be engaging. I devoured them pretty quickly, and I really appreciated being able to read them nearly one right after the other. The plot held my interest, and I think it and the character development came together the best in Avenger, which was my favorite of the three. (Although I imagine I enjoyed it that much more because I had been with the characters through two previous books and I could finally see them grow and find some resolution. I certainly recommend all of the books being read together and in order, if possible, for the most enjoyment.)
*With many thanks to Zondervan and DJC Communications for providing me with a copy of each book in the series in exchange for my honest opinion.*