November 2012: Re-read in preparation for the sequel. Still awesome. Actually, I liked it more. This is a full five stars now. This is what happens when smart, talented writers write YA. I mean, hell, being classified as YA does this thing a disservice. Everybody: WHY AREN'T YOU READING THIS SERIES.
November 2011: Enjoyed this muuuuuch more than I thought I was going to. I'm just not into urban fantasy or teen angel fiction (or teen romance, for that matter), so all I had to go on was that a bunch of people I respected were telling me this book was awesome. (Admittedly that's actually a lot to go on, but it's really hard to get rid of your misconceptions sometimes, and I'll be honest here, I find the whole "angel fiction genre" completely laughable.)
However, once I finally picked up the thing (it sat staring at me on my shelf for weeks and weeks), I couldn't stop reading it. Stayed up too late reading it last night, took a long lunch to finish it this afternoon. In a genre that is absolutely saturated, Laini Taylor has managed to write something genuinely fresh (and something that threatens to transcend it's YA trappings every time you turn the page). Taylor fills her book with lovely poetic images that somehow manage not to annoy me (a feat in itself). There's no love triangle (which are always always always predictable and annoying). The characters are intriguing, even scary. And the world she's created is impressively dense; it feels lived in and real, which is especially impressive considering half of her characters are "angels" and "devils." The fact that I had to put those two words into quotation marks is yet another indication of the author's ingenuity. You'll have to read it to find out just exactly why. I'm not spoiling you in this review.
Something is holding me back from giving this five stars, though, and I'm not sure what it is. When I inevitably revisit it in a couple of years, whether it's in preparation for the sequels or just because I've got a craving, I can see myself upping it to five, but for now . . .
Oh, fuck it. Five stars.