*****FINAL RATING: 4.75 STARS*****CATCHALLI really, really loved this book. Like, I really, really did. I've been somewhat lucky in my reading lately, which is awesome, and this book cemented that streak for me. The characters were memorable and it used a fairly unique concept. It was unputdownable and held my attention amazingly well, which, while not exactly an accomplishment unique to this book, is still fantastic considering I have a book I started back in July still sitting half-read on my bookshelf. Some books suck at the attention-grabbing thing. Some books, like this one, rock at it.THE HEROMICHAELWhen we're first introduced to Michael, I wasn't entirely sure what to think of him. He's something of a risk taker, and while he clearly loves his family he still does what he wants. As the story went on, however, I grew to love him more. He doesn't mind risking his life for the people he cares about, and that's incredibly admirable. At the same time he isn't an idiot and he isn't overly impulsive. Michael keeps a clear head most of the time, but he also gets panicked at times, just like anyone else. He's also a photographer, like me, which is awesome.THE CHOSENSCALLISTACallista is an interesting character, and I'm not a huge fan of hers. I get that she's hurt inside and that she's grieving and I sympathize with her. Believe me, I do. At the same time, that is not a free ticket to be rude to everyone. Sometimes she just goes off and starts blaming Michael for things he had no control over. Again, I get wanting to place blame somewhere, but placing it wrongly isn't helpful. Still, she isn't wholly unlikable, and she's a very strong character, which I do like.THADThad might be my favorite character. I adore him. He's fiercely loyal, which is one of my favorite traits. He isn't bitter about the past or what's happened to him. He doesn't let it get to him. He doesn't have a problem devoting himself to Michael, and he's self-sacrificing but somehow isn't annoying about it. Which is amazing, right? Of course it is, because I just said it was.THE PLOTIn the world of Harken, Guardians protect the earth. Or at least, that's what they're supposed to do. Something like that isn't a unique idea on its own. The way it is executed is what makes it truly memorable.Michael's life isn't normal from the beginning. He can see people's emotions in their eyes, particularly when the eyes are those in a photograph. He's made a business out of this that causes him to leave his house one night. That's what leads him to meet Mr. Sharpe, and consequently sets off the events of this novel.This plot involves a lot of action. It is definitely event-driven, which I really liked. One thing leads to another–no matter what choices Michael makes, it is going to cause something else down along the line. I was pleased by the clarity of that and the ease by which events and people connected.Mostly, it was highly enjoyable. There was a lot of anticipation involved. I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next. And the best thing? It wasn't irritatingly predictable. I loved being surprised. Just when I was sure I had everything figured out, something would come up and it would be turned upside-down completely. I was left guessing until the very end.So, if I had to sum this up in one word, I'd use the word thrilling. It was deliciously intense and basically just marvelous, and I loved every moment of it.THE ROMANCEAs much as romance happens to be one of my favorite things in the universe (which most of you know by now) one of my favorite things about this book was its lightness on it. I wouldn't go so far as to say there's none, but it isn't the main focus of the novel like about 99% of YA paranormal these days and I loved that. There's chemistry, but there're still so many roadblocks to any chances of that. It's complicated is probably the easiest if most cliché way to phrase this. I like it, and I'm definitely curious to see where it goes.THE WRITINGI have mixed feelings here. The writing flows easily, and Michael has a distinct voice. It lets a lot of his personality come through, but occasionally it does fall flat. It's a little bit too simplistic, I think, and could use a bit of work as far as that goes. It's not horrible, not even bad, but it's not perfect. Mostly I would say that it needs more specificity to the word choice and more focus on the wording in some areas. But other than that, I really don't have any complaints. It's lovely, and has a very open and readable quality to it.THE ENDINGEndings are tricky. Plus, I have a tendency to be overly critical about them. Happily, I was extremely satisfied with this ending. It left me wanting to know more, but at the same time it didn't feel like a cheap trick or a ridiculous cliffhanger. Don't get me wrong–there is a cliffhanger–but I thought is was nicely done. There was one point near the end where I think the book could have ended, and most authors probably would have ended it there to drag it out. But I liked that Harken didn't do that. It gave the sense of a complete book with more to come.WRAPUPIf it isn't obvious to you by this point how much I loved this book, then…well. It should be obvious. It was an incredible story with action and just a touch of romance, and I adored the concept of Guardians. I will definitely be continuing this series. As to would I recommend this? Um, yes! I especially recommend this to all you lovely people whose guilty pleasures include bad action movies. I'm only half kidding. But in all seriousness, I absolutely recommend this. Harken was a gorgeous and modern read.FINE.Find more of my reviews on Sparkles and Lightning!