Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trilogy Book Review: Evolution: ANGEL, Evolution: SAGE, and Evolution: HEX by Starla Huchton

Evolution: ANGEL


Candace Bristol is a comic book geek. For years, she's been waiting for her chance to apply for the ANGEL project, a genetic modification process that turns young adults into superheroes. The time has finally come, and there's an acceptance packet in her mailbox.

Now, away from her little Iowa town, she's surrounded by others like her, superheroes in the making. But she's not a shoe-in yet. There's a lot of adjusting to do with the treatments before they're made permanent, and suddenly, the physical necessity for romance is taking hold. Candace didn't plan on this, or for the jerk who's in her training class. She just wanted to be a hero. Trailblazing a new skill that no one's seen before, she's torn between wanting to explore what she can do and the threat of being dangerous. Is she really cut out to be part of ANGEL after all?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Candace Bristol has always been obsessed with comic books, but in a world where the nightly news often mirrors these inked stories, her dreams of becoming a real superhero could actually come true. After being rescued by members of the government’s AdvaNced Genetic EvoLution (ANGEL) Project four years ago, getting recruited for this elite team is all she’s wanted.
Now 18, she’s finally reached her goal after years of study and physical training, but little could have prepared her for life as a genetic experiment. As though coming to terms with her new ability to manipulate water isn’t tough enough, she never expected to be swept off her feet by one of her fellow recruits.
With genetic alteration, the threat of physical and mental instability hangs over every superhero like a shadow. When one of their own tumbles over the edge of madness, Candace will have to choose between protecting the world, and saving the one who holds her heart.


Huchton couldn't have picked a better setting for this book than right now. With science getting scary-cool more and more every day, the thought of creating a team of superheroes with genetic alteration is a perfect possibility. And considering superheroes are really big right now and it's okay to be a comic book geek in public, this is just taking fantasies one step further, into reality.

But she doesn't make it easy, and that's real life right there. There are dilemmas and issues with coping to take into account, and Huchton addresses this wonderfully. Being a superhero isn't easy or black-and-white. Candace discovers this quickly. Huchton has a winner here with her premise.


This is far from the first Huchton book I've reviewed (see other reviews). And I'm constantly pleased with the ease of reading her work. She writes cleanly, without talking up or down to her readers. It's not plain prose, but it isn't overdone, either. She strikes a great balance of description, thought, and dialogue, with plenty of action to keep things interesting. I have yet to come across a problem with pacing or anything like that in her novels, and I expect I won't have to worry about that problem in the future either. This was an all-around joy to read, and holy cow, did it make me want to dive into book 2.

My Thoughts

I'm always happy to read Huchton's books, and Evolution: ANGEL was no exception. Her clear understanding of her characters and their situations makes for some great reading. There are a few hints of mysteries she doesn't give answers to in this book, but it isn't so bad that I would've been angry if Book 2 weren't already available. I could have waited for confirmation or rejection of my suspicions. I am glad the whole trilogy is already out, though.

I admit, I saw a whole lot of myself in one of the characters, though. I identified very strongly with him, and knowing me, I saw [NOT PUTTING IN A SPOILER] coming. It couldn't have gone any other way, not with that character in that mindset. Huchton has really made things real and stayed true to her characters even when she knows it will be painful for the reader. It's great to know she isn't shy about it.

Would I Recommend This Book? Highly. I have yet to run across anything by Huchton that hasn't been a great read. And what's nicer is her books read very quickly thanks to tight, engaging writing. I'm excited to see how this trilogy pans out. I give Evolution: ANGEL a well-hydrated 5 of 5 stars.
Evolution: SAGE


Candace Bristol can't help but think of the choices she had to make now that she's part of the ANGEL project. Her superpowers have put her in a position to destroy, even if it's for good. Now, in the wake of the hardest decision she ever had to make, Candace is broken, but the project goes on.

The unstable results of outside genetic evolution keep popping up, all with the same mark: HEX. In light of the ANGEL casualties that keep happening when confronting these threats, volunteers are needed for the next step of treatment. No one has traveled down this path before. What more does Candace have to lose? Somebody has to agree to become a SAGE. Why not her?

Too bad Jackson, the jerk she can't seem to escape, has volunteered too.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Devastated by her choices, Candace Bristol is on the brink of losing it all: her mind, her hope, everything she thought she was.
But from the ruins rises new purpose. An enemy has emerged and it will take everything to combat this new threat. Broken as she is, picking up the pieces and carrying on might be the hardest battle to win, but it’s either fight, or lose what little she has left.
Amongst the wreckage, hope still burns. The flicker of a flame kindles something within her she thought was dead.
Love can break you.
So, too, can it bring you back to life.
My Thoughts

I couldn't have been more pleased with this book. Huchton really tapped into the consequences of Candace's actions at the end of Evolution: ANGEL. So much can be overlooked when people make hard decisions. What Candace had to do haunted her, and it still does even once she gets past the shock of it. Possibilities and implications of her abilities are always being weighed in her head, and it's scary for very clear reasons. It's a journey we take with her. Even better, while Huchton makes the mental journey understandable, she doesn't make the reader wallow in it. There's still plenty going on, both in action, plot developments, and a new romance that had me wanting to scream at the denying lovers to just kiss already.

And oh, my, does she pave the way for book three (Evolution: HEX). I am so ready to dive into this. I'm not going to give it away, but there are hints at how this book will end, going back to book one, and it's so subtly done that Huchton told me I was the first to notice it. It's that subtle. But once you realize it, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. If you don't notice it the first time, you should on a reread of SAGE. And for reasons beyond that, this will definitely be a series to reread.

Would I Recommend This Book? Oh, so very yes. Huchton has yet to disappoint me as a reader, and Evolution: SAGE was no exception. It's a fitting continuation of Evolution: ANGEL, giving closure to old questions while still raising new ones. Huchton knows what she's doing, in both the superhero parts of the tale and the romances. I give Evolution: SAGE a snowy 5 of 5 stars.
Evolution: HEX


The independent superhero group HEX has captured Candace Bristol. Now, in the hands of the enemy, Candace is learning the other side of the story. The ANGEL project that made her a superhero has its secrets. Some of those are just as bad as what HEX is doing, and Candace had no idea. Maybe if things were different, her boyfriend Adrian would still be alive. Is she really playing for the right side?

But HEX has its problems, too. Now, she and the members of HEX are planing to return her to ANGEL so she can make things better for all the supers.

Something has to give, and it definitely isn't going to be Candace's morals.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from
A lie is a prison without bars.

A captive of the enemy, Candace is forced to confront mistakes and regrets from both sides of the battlefield, including her own. Nothing is simple, and lines in the sand that were once clear have become blurred and indistinguishable. Even the unlikely love she found teeters on the edge of uncertainty.

The truth is not always what it seems, and can be a prison of its own.

Alone, she must decide where she stands. Alone, she must decide who to trust.

When the smoke clears, what’s left might not be much…

But it might be enough.

My Thoughts

I don't think there could have been a more fitting ending to the Evolution series than this book. Huchton made good on all the promises she made with ANGEL and SAGE and left us with a conclusion that made me want more in the best way. The trilogy is complete in itself, but it does lend the reader to more wants for books in this version of our world.

The addition of insight into the HEX organization gave a great deal of new material in characters and interpersonal conflicts to Candace and her friends. It was a welcome addition, and some of the new characters were absolutely wonderful. A few little pieces involving them did get left dangling, but they were totally minor and I don't mind at all. Those threads weren't dealt with directly, but the overall end of the trilogy still gave indirect closure to them, so I'm fine with that.

I developed a whole new respect for the characters I've been with from page one of Evolution: ANGEL. The development of these individuals was wonderful from beginning to end, and everyone was integral to the plot in some way. There was purpose all around, and I applaud Huchton for that. She also gets a huge round for writing an all-out amazing novel.

Would I Recommend This Book? Hell YES! This is a fitting close to the epic story she began two books ago, and there is little more to say than that.  I give Evolution: HEX an unstable 5 of 5 stars.

The Evolution series as a whole gets a supercharged 5 of 5 stars.

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