Desert Angel by Charlie Price

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Desert Angel by Charlie Price

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: Intense and hard-hitting Desert Angel certainly is, but a weak plot proved to be a significant restriction.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0552563369

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Fourteen-year-old Angel is alone in an open desert. The man who killed her mother is relentlessly tracking her, and determined to see her buried. Just as she resigns herself to death, the local community suddenly take her in and give her a new identity and an opportunity to hide with a normal family. They believe that she'll be safe, but Angel knows better. She knows Scotty, and she knows that he won't give up so easily. Her constant paranoia threatens to drive a wedge between her and the family who have taken her in, but she is convinced that it is the only thing keeping her alive, and she might just be right.

Angel pretty much carries the story – if you don't like her as a character, there is no way you will be able to get through the book. Price makes her narrative voice immersive and you'll come to discover that she's gritty, tough and so determined to stay alive, yet at the same time there's a mix of confusion, terror and vulnerability that continuously threatens to overwhelm her. It is when she is at her most vulnerable, that she has the most impact. Scotty as the vicious and relentless hunter is a nasty piece of work, but he's not much more than a cardboard cut-out villain, which is a shame as there was potential for him to be really memorable. Fortunately, the community that make up the isolated and rather shady setting, prove to be stand-out; despite their own poverty, they put everything at risk to shield her, and this genuine rallying of a whole community behind an orphaned girl is one of the genuinely moving aspects of the story. Foremost among them is Rita, who brings heart to the story as the woman who takes Angel into her home, despite the grave danger of doing so. She's a wonderful contrast to Angel's frenetic and panicked behaviour, and it is through her unwavering steadfastness and perceptive wisdom that Angel gradually finds her path again.

The setting provides a perfect background to the story, reflecting both the harshness of the tone, as well as the potential for moments of warmth. Charlie Price's writing is sharp, with his sparse use of words underlining Angel's ever-present urgency. His style works with the plot and with the length of the book, as it could've become more grating if the story had been much longer.

Ultimately Desert Angel is a compulsive read, but not an overly enjoyable one. It is just so grim all the time, and although there are a few uplifting aspects to the story, they are few and far between, and reading is almost a painful experience at times. Furthermore, the plot fell flat for me being too orthodox and lacking subtlety; it is too obviously focussed on creating thrills, and not as much on creating a lasting impact on the reader.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you enjoyed the concept and style of Desert Angel you will love Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick which is a chilling story with a similarly isolated protagonist, who is being threatened by a menacing figure in the harsh setting of the Arctic. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness has a very original and compelling writing style and features a fugitive chase as the main narrative, and has an adolescent protagonist who is put under almost as much pressure as Angel is. Finally, if you like your teenage heroines tough and gritty, you won't go wrong with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, an incredibly exciting dystopian novel.

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Buy Desert Angel by Charlie Price at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Desert Angel by Charlie Price at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Desert Angel by Charlie Price at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Desert Angel by Charlie Price at


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