Obviously, I’ve been on an angel reading spree this summer- yet if you’d asked me before to place my bets, I wouldn’t have thought Hush, Hush to be the worst of them all. I’ve been eyeing para-ro angel books since they were first published, but my dislike of the genre has always outweighed my interest in angels- so coming into them now is fairly interesting.
Anyways, Hush is atrociously bad. This is ‘you would not believe’ levels of bad going on here. Folks, we have headscratching angel mythos, smart-as-stone heroines, girl-hate, abusive love interests, and a villain who is one hundred percent correct. Settle on down to this boat of terror and place your arms under the bar- it’s a real doozy.
Hey, you know para-ro books? Yeah, it’s one of those. Nora, an ordinary, not-too-popular but nice-enough girl is paired with mysterious new student Patch, who antagonizes her constantly and appears to be stalking her. Strange things happen, of paranormal variety, and about 80% in we finally learn any information on what is happening (and it’s only 75%) that we even learn Patch is a fallen angel.
This book is incredibly dull when you parse it properly. A bunch of nonsense happens, but none of it leads anywhere- while Patch harasses (often sexually) Nora until she decides she loves him. Side character wise we have Elliot, who is refreshingly nice until he is declared evil and his pal Jules, who says nothing and keeps disappearing. There’s also Vee, Nora’s generic sassy best friend, and Marcie, the most standard bully cheerleader.
Anything supernatural takes ages to happen. Nora is assigned to be Patch’s lab partner in biology, and he is extremely annoying and set on humiliating her. Nora has a few strange encounters, such as (seemingly) hallucinating hitting a man with her car, having her room ransacked, and being watched at night. She starts hanging out with Elliot, the new kid at school who is very nice, until she stumbled into the information he might have been complicit in the death of his last girlfriend- starting a strangely irrelevant sub plot. Nora sees Patch’s back has a weird V shaped scar, and when she looks it up finds some articles talking about how fallen angels have these. That’s the first mention of angels, and it’s on about page 300.
Elliot becomes extremely evil and begins to taunt Nora, eventually inviting her to play hide and seek in the school after dark, threatening Vee if she doesn’t. When she arrives she ends up stranded from the accompanying Patch and learns the REAL villain is Jules, who has been manipulating Elliot into doing various things. Jules is really this guy called Chauncey from the 1500s that Patch possesses the body of every year during the Jewish month of Cheshvan (WE’LL GET THERE). Nora, a descendant of Chauncey/Jules, uses knowledge she just learned from Patch that if she is sacrificed Chauncey will also die and Patch can become human, so she jumps to her death (WE. WILL. GET. THERE.). Patch rejects the opportunity to be human and Nora is brought back to life, but Chauncey remains dead. For saving a human life, Patch is returned to angelhood (as a guardian).
Oh also forgot about the subplot about the evil not-teacher who is actually an angel insanely jealous of Nora because Patch likes her, so she tries to burn Nora’s house down and then is dealt with off-page by Patch and never seen again.
I am always really, really fascinated by the choices of young adult authors when they have angels. You guys know I love angels… and one big thing about them is they are fairly unique among supernatural creatures in that a lot, lot of people believe in them. Unlike vampires, fae, and werewolves, angels are religious beings at their core. They show up in various places, sure, but at their heart the idea of an angel belongs to Abrahamic religions.
One thing YA para-ro, however, does not like doing is including explicit religion. Because of this, you get a lot of… weird takes. You also see angels with all sorts of powers that don’t really ‘fit’ angel mythology. Sweet Evil had super senses and things like the ability to sense pregnancies, Fallen had shadows which contained time portals to the past, and in this book angels are very good at getting into your head and sending you false realities.
Look, have fun with your angel lore, but also try and get the story straight on what that should be based on. Angels generally have wings, serve some great creator, and some of them rebelled and were cast out. We can all agree on that, right? Okay. This book further posits angels can exists on Earth as themselves, but they aren’t really themselves, and they can’t physically feel anything- however, once a year they can possess a human they’ve made a pact with for two weeks and feel physical sensations again. Angels are capable of projecting thoughts into the minds of humans, as well as instantly placing extremely realistic illusions capable of convincing them of a fully alternate reality. Also, nephilhim- children of angels and humans- are immortal and have similar powers. Also if you touch a fallen angel’s wing scars you are transported to random memories of theirs.
I feel like we’re losing the thread here, don’t you? When it comes to special powers angels and fallen angels would have, I could accept messaging people in their minds, but I struggle with ‘entirely convincing illusions of pain and disasters such as falling off a roller coaster or getting in a car crash’. These powers are a pain narrative wise too, as it means a lot of the action is based in un-reality: Nora has no way to identify or really block when this happens, so we don’t always know what is happening.
The villain is right
Patch is a fallen angel. A long time ago he fell in instant lust with a human girl and jumped down to try and get with her, only to find he didn’t have a physical body, and then was punished by having his wings torn off (I’m unsure how this creates a V pattern, admittedly). Patch, now doomed to forever wander the earth with a deep need to posses human bodies, attacks and forces a 16 year old named Chauncey to swear an oath of loyalty to him and allow Patch to possess his body every Cheshvan, a fact Patch only really tells him after Chauncey is forced to agree.
For over about 500 years now, Chauncey is immortal (unclear if this is because of the oath or being a nephilhim) and entirely helpless in fighting Patch’s yearly possessions of him. He describes it as being a squashed prisoner in his own body, entirely awake but with no control. He hates it, rightfully. He is in hell on earth and unable to stop this fallen angel, who attacked and tricked him into this, from doing this (or seemingly allowing him to die).
This is wild when you consider Patch is our hero. Of course, he’s a horrible person anyways, but Chauncey’s short villain monologue is surprisingly reasonable. His execution is poorly planned- he attacks and tortures Nora because Patch likes her, and Patch can’t feel physical pain but can be hurt emotionally- but he has a point. Patch is holding this man’s body hostage for centuries with no regrets. It’s not addressed how messed up this is, and while Patch has some remarks about having a dark past and how he used to be a worse person… this isn’t the past! He is actively holding Chauncey in this oath so he can steal his body every year. That ain’t no good.
Patch sucks so much. Oh boy. He is extremely creepy and gross at all times, even when he supposedly has softened and grown to love Nora. Patch humiliates Nora multiple times during biology class, and when Nora complains to the teacher, the teacher says ‘no, you can’t change seats, Patch is actually talking’. Patch makes many sexual remarks to Nora, again several times in front of the class, talking about how she’s secretly attracted to him and all the obvious signs. Patch is obviously stalking Nora, always appearing where she is and then putting the blame on her for following him. Patch touches Nora in several weird, unconsensual ways, such as taking off her lip gloss with a finger and saying “she looks better without it”.
He’s so bad! When it’s revealed Patch originally was going to kill her, Nora tries to flee and he pins her down and generally roughs her up in order to force her to stay, ignoring her anger and offering no answers.
And yes, Patch was planning to kill Nora due to some very convoluted reasoning. Evidently there’s something in the book of Enoch that a fallen angel can become human by killing a nephilhim they have an oath with by killing a female descendant of that nephilhim. Nephilhim can’t die, but sacrificing a female descendant of a nephilhim can kill them AND turn a fallen angel into a human. I can’t really parse any logic from this, so we’ll move on. Nora is a female descendant of Chauncey, but as Patch meets her, he keeps neglecting to kill her, eventually ending up in love with her.
This is how when Chauncey/Jules threatens Nora, she knows she can kill herself (self-sacrifice) in order to kill Jules and give Patch the gift of humanity (which he has always wanted). However, Patch rejects her sacrifice… bringing her, logically, back to life while Chauncey stays dead. Patch is rewarded for saving a human life and gets to be a guardian angel, when he didn’t technically do anything in the whole confrontation.
Basically, though, Patch is an entitled sexual predator who doesn’t have the balls to kill a high school girl so he falls in love with her and is rewarded for his behavior by getting back into Heaven. Sweet.
I’ll lump everyone else here.
Everyone in this book is HORRIBLE. Nora is dumb as bricks and shares a personality with them too. She hates Patch early on, yet is constantly spending time with him for no reason. She suspects Patch is stalking her, might have mugged her friend, and perhaps beat up a mean girl on her behalf, yet she gets into non-stop situations where all alone with him. At one point, when Elliot is being genuinely a nice person and invites her out to hang at the carnival, she just abandons her friends to ride a roller coaster alone with Patch (also she is terrified of heights).
When Nora learns Elliot is a suspect in the death of his ex- she was found hanging from a tree, and while there was a suicide note her apartment seemed to have been broken into to plant it- she becomes extremely paranoid about him. At the same time Elliot somehow senses this and becomes a creep. Nora, who has been ignoring all the weird things about Patch and his behavior, is instantly sure Elliot killed his ex and even travels solo to Portland to investigate it. Her friend Vee is fairly sure she was mugged and attacked by Patch, but Nora, who wasn’t there, is convinced Elliot did it.
Eventually we do see Elliot being creepy and aggressive, as he accosts Nora outside her house one night drunk and physically threatens her to go on a camping trip. When Nora talks to Vee about it, Vee says ‘he probably didn’t mean it’ and ‘he was just drunk, let’s go camping, you’re overreacting’.
The bad characters continue with Marcie, a generic cheerleader type. She’s a blonde, skinny, pretty, controlling type who bullies Vee and Nora. I think for this I’ll transcribe her first appearance.
Her strawberry blonde hair was combed into low pigtails, and like always, her skin was concealed under half a bottle of foundation. […] There was three-quarters of an inch between the hem of her skirt and the start of her underwear… if she was wearing any.
“Hi supersize,” Marcie said to Vee.
“Hi Freakshow,” Vee said back.
“You’ve got food stuck in your teeth,” Vee told Marcie. “In the crack between your two front teeth. Looks like chocolate ex-lax…”
Marcie licked her teeth and slid off the table. As she sashayed off, Vee stuck her finger in her mouth and made gagging gestures behind Marcie’s back.
So, how about that. Girl hate, slut shaming, stereotypes, bulimia jokes… fun, fun. Marcie is catty and annoys Nora and then is hospitalized when she’s beat up by one of the villains off screen.
Next character wise we have Ms. Greene, the angel. She enters Nora’s life as the replacement for her old therapist. She’s young and urges Nora to stay away from Patch (good advice). It later turns out via wing-induced flashback that she’s an angel and Patch’s ex. She’s obsessed with Patch and wants him to return to Heaven and be with her again. She hates Nora and humans and just wants Patch, so she goes crazy and tries to kill Nora and burn her house down. Off page Patch rips off her wings. I’m sure she’ll be back in the sequel. Bizarrely this is a trope shared with the angel book Fallen, which had a secretly evil heaven-aligned angel pretending to be a teacher who then tries to kill the MC, is thwarted by the LI, and escapes to return in a sequel. Huh.
+This book is bad and not fun to read. The writing is bad. The characters are bad. It’s all bad.
+Nora is CHOMPING on iron pills this entire book. She has anemia…. but guess what? So do I! I have anemia (low iron in the blood) to a degree that a doctor looked at my test results and, rather forlornly, told me I had a third of the minimum healthy amount of iron in my blood. So me and Nora are iron buddies, except her anemia is NOT how it works. She has a pill bottle which she carries with her, and her anemia is triggered by anxiety and stress, where she’ll then pop one or two pills. These wash into her immediately and give her that much needed iron. I wasn’t counting, but I feel like she takes 3-4 pills a day. This is now how medication works. Or anemia. It’s a daily dose, like most things, and does not instantly work- it gets into your blood by you consistently taking it. It’s not a painkiller you just take whenever you need it. This was such a bizarre detail in the book.
+Vee is described as being ‘a few pounds over curvy’, which is fairly ambiguous. There’s a scene in an underwear shop where she is buying a D cup bra and even notes she has the largest breasts in their class. Body types are different and all, but D cup really isn’t that large- for a 16 year old, like she implies by saying ‘any other girl with boobs her size has silicone in them’, and especially if she’s fat. Also, who is letting 16 year olds get implants.
+I really, really don’t want to read the next three book and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to try. I know I said this about Fallen, but I find Hush’s premise even more boring, and hell knows the content is somehow worse.