Providence (Volume 1)

Providence - Jamie McGuire Soapbox Review to come. Oh, I have a few words to spare about this book, and not so much in the measure that it offended me in the way that Nina Malkin's "Swoon" did, but I think the tone of this review might be similar to that one.I'm just going to be blunt about my experience reading his book - the long and short of it - I thought it was decidedly mediocre. On one hand, I knew what I was getting into, considering it's a story about a paranormal romantic fictitious pairing, but there are tons of paranormal romances that were more interesting than this, and less messy (in the sense of transition and structure, though one could argue that there are some qualms to consider with the romance here). Issues with pacing, wording, characterizations, transitions in the plot and frankly some inclusions of jokes that I thought weren't amusing made this a one-star read for me. Hopefully I can expand upon it in the full review.***Count "Providence" as one of the many largely derivative paranormal romances surrounding angels that exist out there in the larger realm of urban-fantasy. I don't really consider this YA because of the age of the characters and the content contained within, personally, though that could be up for debate as far as the appeal is concerned, because there's a lot of this story that I could compare to the likes of say Becca Fitzpatrick's "Hush Hush" - and I'm not really saying that in a positive comparison.I would say that the book feels largely more about a Mary Sue-ish wish fulfillment than it does about presenting a tangible, realistic yet transcending boundaries relationship occurring in the backdrop of a contentious familial falling out. I think in the premise alone, this book had the potential of developing into an interesting story. I'll give it that much, but it just...lacks quite a bit of life - it's dull, quite boorish even. Nina is one of the most rambly narrators I've had the displeasure of coming across. In every chapter, the narration (written in first-person) feels like a ramble that hardly seems to move the plot along. It's a struggle to get through to the larger plot turns. Tighter editing could've alleviated this to a degree, but largely, it was the details focused upon that felt out of place. I'll give a few examples of this with a few choice passages: "It was nice to meet you, Nina." There was an edge to his words. It went beyond politeness or even sincerity. He spoke the words with conviction. This is a line from Jared spoken to Nina. Classic case of telling versus showing, plus - the direction of the sentiment is lost in the muddled clash of emotional descriptors here. I almost want to say pick one emotion and it would be better than spending so much time on it. There are other instances of this in the book as well.Another nitpick with the writing:"Nina, I know you're upset, but it's going to be okay." His voice was calm and soothing, almost too much so, as if he was trying to talk me down from a ledge."I'm standing in the middle of the street bawling my eyes out and yelling at you Jared! Why aren't you asking me what's wrong? Why don't you ever ask me questions?"This is a lot of telling versus showing of emotion, plus a contradiction because Jared asks her just a little while before this exchange, discreetly "Nina, what's wrong?" The dialogue feels haphazard and unrealistic, and in several places of the book, it pulled me out of the story.I've read pieces from writers who've made a daily trip to the grocery store sound more intimate, genuinely humorous, and eventful than this. On the larger spectrum, "Providence" has a juvenile writing style and could've been cut, rounded out, and developed much better to make it a more even read. But enough about the stylistics for now - let's discuss the heart of the story. The story does start off on a hard-hitting note, with the unexpected death of Nina Grey's father, leaving the college aged Nina reeling from the loss. During the funeral, Nina meets a mysterious gent named Jared, who strikes her fancy in somewhat of an insta-love connection that feels quite awkward from its beginnings and develops into something of a stalkerish attraction. Wherever Nina goes, Jared seems to show up out of the blue. Some of her friends cheer her on, and we're constantly told from Nina's part "I barely know him!" And then there's the barely there love triangle (the other guy, Ryan, doesn't even have a shot - not that it matters because he develops a jealous streak and doesn't like Jared, and considers him a "danger" to Nina, who won't see it any other way. *rolls eyes*)It takes a really long time, in collective consideration, for the reader to learn anything about Jared, especially his paranormal leanings. He's pretty much revealed to be her angel guardian in so many terms, and he's watched her in just about every relationship and transition in life that she's made, and Jared's said that he's wanted to kill the men Nina fell in love with that he says were bad for her (as if that isn't creepy enough). There's mention of his knowledge of Nina's father being involved in shady dealings, but that felt more like background information compared to the relationship aspect, and I honestly wish that more attention were paid to that. Even with Nina's Mom, I felt like she took more contention with Nina's relationship with Jared rather than the issue of her husband's misconduct (which I believe she knew about but didn't tell Nina.) But back to the relationship, since it takes center stage in this story. I never really saw what Nina sees in Jared that makes him so attractive, nor him to her because she basically gives him crap on so many levels, even slut shaming his sister in her respective introduction because Nina thought Jared brought her into the same place where she met with her friends in order to make Nina jealous. Nina just...took so many divergent opinions and reactions where it was hard to feel sympathy for her as the story went on.When it comes to a point where Jared asserts that they can't be together and he leaves, it lends Nina into a depression where she "can't live without him" and becomes yet another rambled mess of things. By that point, I'd lost investment and was just reading to see what happened until the end. Even the action scenes toward the end and contention points of their supposedly forbidden romance felt threadbare at best.For the start of a penned trilogy, this was quite a mediocre introduction into the world/realm that McGuire seems to want to develop, and I think this is my first and last foray into this particular set of books. There are much stronger examples of paranormal romance and urban fantasy out there for people to partake, and for me, this wasn't worth the time.Overall score: 1/5