Meridian by Amber Kizer
Series: Fenestra #1
Published by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers on August 11th, 2009
Shelve It: Goodreads
Half-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.
Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate’s tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home–and Meridian’s body explodes in pain.
Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. It’s there that she learns that she is a Fenestra–the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.
With a creative spin on angel lore and a protagonist who didn’t complain about the destiny she didn’t know she was always meant to live, Meridian had the potential to be great. Unfortunately, the slow-paced plot, scattered pieces of information that didn’t add up to form a coherent whole, and a romance that developed too quickly stifled Meridian’s potential and my enjoyment.
The first few chapters of Meridian had me intrigued: a young girl with a propensity for death who had just found out she wasn’t exactly human? Consider my curiosities piqued! Unfortunately, as Meridian’s plot unfolded, the secrets behind Meridian’s ancestry and the knowledge she needed to fulfill her destiny was revealed too slowly, or not at all. For the longest time, all we knew was that Meridian was a Fenestra; someone who acted as a conduit for souls passing through this life into the next. There was a lot of talk of her duty, the Creator, her Protector, Warriors known as Sangre, and the Aternocti, but the details surrounding everything were vague. And it was often the case that Meridian would be forced to repeat questions, as after asking initially, her Auntie would avoid answering by saying that that answer could wait for another day. It made the pacing of Meridian crawl along at a snail’s pace; instead of living in suspense for the next revelation, I was still hoping for the answer to the first question Meridian had asked!
It definitely didn’t help that despite hundreds of years of Fenestra contributing to a journal that Auntie had in her possession, none had lived to tell their tales of their experiences with the Aternocti, the Fenestra’s nemesis. Whenever they were brought up, Auntie would skirt around the answers, only to finally reveal that she had no answers to give! She couldn’t speak to their creation, to their purpose, to their goals when it came to hunting Fenestra, or to what they might even look like. Everything Meridian was worrying about was for nought, as Auntie couldn’t tell her anything about them, other than to trust her instincts.
Fortunately, I mostly enjoyed Meridian’s characterization, which is one of the big reasons I continued reading Meridian at all. While I hated how easily she was appeased, and I felt no sense of urgency from her to learn about being a Fenestra despite her fear of not being ready in time, I liked that she persevered even when things were tough. She often relied on the help of Auntie or Tens, but she also realized the importance of being strong enough to face this life on her own. I do wish she had spent a little more time finding out the reason she needed to be kept separate from her family, and that she had shown some sort of distress for having been lied to for her whole life; the life of solitude and loneliness she had lead could have been alleviated had her mother explained what she was earlier. And why didn’t she demand more responsibility for her inexperience from Auntie, her mentor? Why couldn’t she have spent summers with Auntie, preparing for when she was of age?
Up until this point, my quibbles with Meridian were relatively minor. While I was a little bored and slightly unhappy with how the lore was being explained, I was still finding Meridian to be quite readable. And then Meridian took the one character with a little brooding mysteriousness, and turned him into a sappy love interest. While Meridian had hinted to having some feelings for Tens several times, her affection for him wasn’t something I felt. If anything, she came across as quite curious about this dark and handsome stranger, who seemed to play such an important role in her Auntie’s life. But with the flick of a switch, Meridian and Tens were proclaiming their love for each other and Meridian officially lost me. There was no build up to them having a romance; I think Kizer was trying to play the hate-to-love angle, but she missed the part where the protagonist and her love interest had banter that gradually grew from spiteful to playful. It was often the case that Meridian would ask Tens a question and he refused to either acknowledge that she was speaking, or he replied with a vague, one-word answer. There was no chemistry, no connection and absolutely no warning that he felt anything for her. I also found it quite strange that Meridian described her feelings for Tens as something that made her itchy…
Overall, my feelings for Meridian can be successfully described by one word: meh. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t overly enjoy it either. While Meridian had some potential, overall it was quite an underwhelming reading experience.