Rated Reads

Toward a Secret Sky

by Heather MacLean

Rated: Moderate

Maren’s mom has just died in a strange accident, and since her father died before Maren was born, she is sent away from Missouri to live with her grandparents — her dad’s parents, who live in Scotland, whom she’s never met.

She is soon sent a small shipment of what seems like junk from her mom’s things, just leftover stuff from the office. But one wooden box, once she manages to figure out how to open it, contains a number of curious items, including a necklace and a letter from her mom, as well as a journal with blueprints drawn inside.

It’s hard enough to be orphaned and move to a totally different place and have to meet new friends. But Maren also starts having vivid, horrifying dreams. Coupled with the strange things that begin happening in the small area where she lives, she doesn’t know what to think. When she meets a ridiculously good-looking guy, however, she does know that she wants to get to know him better, despite his telling her she needs to stay away.

The story of Toward a Secret Sky involves a secret organization that employs humans to work with angels to defeat demons. Maren gets drawn into the battle that is happening right where she lives, and she tries to figure out how to help the good side to save her new friends, even while falling in love with someone she is forbidden to be with.

I just could not enjoy the book. It’s full of stock characters and it copies (not well) other very popular YA series, including Twilight and the Shadowhunters sets of books by Cassandra Clare. I found none of it original, and the execution and style were just write-by-the-numbers. While many “tropes” or basic plots appear often in great literature, for various good reasons, in the wrong hands they can be disastrous — and greatly annoying to readers. Here, since the writing was subpar and the world-building didn’t offer me anything new, I never was able to immerse myself in the story. I won’t be reading any sequels.

Rated: Moderate. There’s not a lot in the way of language. But there is some sexual material: some kissing scenes, some crude references and innuendo, a character who drugs the main character’s drink and tries to have his way with her, and another character who is intent on “stealing the virginity” of the main character. There’s teen drinking in a couple of places. And there is some violence and descriptions of some gore.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Toward a Secret Sky
  • by Heather MacLean
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: