Angel in Vegas: The Chronicles of Noah Sark


Good heavens! A teen angel drops into Sin City in this wickedly funny YA novel from the author of the Blue Avenger trilogy.

Who is Noah Sark, really? And what is he doing in the men’s room at Angelo’s Donut Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada? No use asking him; he doesn’t know. But he’s gambling that an assignment from above will shed some light — after all, a life depends on it! Only master satirist Norma Howe could craft a provocative meditation on free will from blending one (or maybe...

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Good heavens! A teen angel drops into Sin City in this wickedly funny YA novel from the author of the Blue Avenger trilogy.

Who is Noah Sark, really? And what is he doing in the men’s room at Angelo’s Donut Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada? No use asking him; he doesn’t know. But he’s gambling that an assignment from above will shed some light — after all, a life depends on it! Only master satirist Norma Howe could craft a provocative meditation on free will from blending one (or maybe two) budding teen romances, a psychic fair, a dead frog, a headful of blond curls, and Las Vegas in all its glitz and kitsch (hello, Elvis!) with the dramatic backstory of Princess Diana in Paris. The jackpot? A wild and witty portrait of an unlikely guardian angel on a desperate mission to save a certain unknown girl from a certain unknown disaster.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Howe (the Blue Avenger trilogy) offers the odd pairing of Las Vegas kitsch and a purported angel in this stylized sideways tourist travelogue. Waking up in the bathroom of Angelo's Donut Shop, Noah Sark reveals that he has arrived on Earth for his latest guardian angel gig. When he meets Andy and his girlfriend, Barbra, he knows he's found his target—“Bulletins from Above” trigger a stabbing pain in his head to get his attention. Breathlessly explaining to readers that Barbra is a ringer for his failed last assignment, Princess Diana, Noah believes he must take all of his experience from that fateful sojourn in Paris to redeem himself. He gets an introduction to all things Vegas: Elvis impersonators, poker-playing dogs, pirate ships, dancing waters, and more, while mooning over Barbra and seeking to protect her from whatever terrible fate might come. Howe's style is droll, but the story is flat and meandering. Her double-take ending will either make readers resentful or want to reread the book with a new perspective, reconsidering chance, coincidence, and fate. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
VOYA - Cynthia Winfield
Noah Sark, a seemingly innocuous teen from Angels Camp, California, visiting Las Vegas on a weekend lark, is actually a Guardian Angel sent to Earth. He has a chance to redeem himself following his miserable failure of 1997, when serving as Guardian Angel to Princess Diana in Paris, his Deadly Distraction resulted in Diana's tragic death and his first failure after "numberless [successful] assignments down through the ages." A multilayered comedic satire, the story is told by this angel who seems to verbalize his every thought, making for a confusing narrative, ceaselessly jumping from topic to topic as each occurs to him. Key story elements include his trying to puzzle out who and what he is supposed to be for this assignment (the clues provided in his knapsack prove insubstantial), his dismal failure in Paris, the blond wig that sheds a heavenly aura around its wearer, and Andy (The Boy) and Barbra (The Girl), a couple who have been dating for three weeks. The Girl, resembling Princess Diana, becomes the object of both the angel's protection and affection. The grandiose sights and sounds of Vegas, the twenty-four-hour donut shop, the dead frog in his knapsack (provided by his cohort above, Angel Jake), and Andy's Cessna-flying uncle add zest to the already-funky novel's ambiance. Deftly woven and artfully told, Howe's novel will entertain and delight readers able to keep up with the jumbled narrative. Reviewer: Cynthia Winfield
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
What problems could a teen Guardian Angel possibly encounter when he is sent to Las Vegas? His assignment is to use his Protective Surveillance powers to save a girl from a certain unknown disaster. How hard could that assignment be because being a Guardian Angel is what he does? The author of the "Blue Avenger" books brings her wit and satire to yet another delightful novel for young readers. Through Guardian Angel Noah Sark's point of view, the reader experiences the glitz of Las Vegas and a host of quirky characters, including an Elvis impersonator with his hound dog and a seeing-eye-dog video poker player. A Psychic Fair and the impact of a dead frog are thrown in for good measure. In the midst of this chaos, Sark maintains his calm through resisting his "siren call of logic" and seeking the wise counsel of his heavenly mentor Angel Jake. The first person approach gives a sense of immediacy to the story as the reader feels involved in these strange endeavors. The Guardian Angel also provides a tutorial of sorts about misconceptions of angels. For example, seraphim (the highest order of angels) and cherubim (the second highest order) do not have the letter ‘s' at the end of the respective words. If you see the words cherabims or seraphims, the writers who write books about angels do not know what they are talking about. The reader will enjoy a remarkable and amusing journey with this comedic satire in which all turns out well. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Noah Sark comes to in an all-night donut shop bathroom in Las Vegas with no idea who or where he is. He only knows that he has a mission and that the tools he needs are in his backpack. Noah is a guardian angel and this is standard protocol. As he works out who he is here to protect, he fills readers in on what it takes to be an angel and corrects the rampant misinformation on Earth about his kind—such as the difference between seraphim and cherubim. Noah is eager to succeed as his last mission, to protect Princess Diana, was a complete failure. Turns out the angels in charge have a sense of humor and Noah's newest charge is a dead ringer for the dead princess. Can Noah protect her while battling the raging hormones of the teenage boy's body he is currently working out of? Can he protect her while distracted by the glitz of Las Vegas? The author strives for comedy, but Noah's angst and asides grow wearisome. A. M. Jenkins's Repossessed (HarperTeen, 2007) is a better book with a similar concept. Purchase where Norma Howe's "Blue Avenger" series (Holt) is popular.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Noah Sark is on assignment, for Heaven's sake! Showing up in the men's restroom at Angelo's All-Day All-Nite Donut Emporium in Las Vegas, Noah is a lesser Angel assigned to protect The Girl, but he doesn't know from what. The girl is Barbra DeMarco, who looks a lot like Princess Diana, whom Noah failed to protect on a previous mission. Noah spends a few hours with Barbra and her boyfriend Andy on the Strip, encountering Elvis impersonators, exploding volcanoes and sinking pirate ships, and readers will follow along, eager to find out just how Noah will save Barbra. An Angel on assignment in Sin City is a delicious premise carried off with humor and verve, though the relentless first-angel point of view becomes claustrophobic, and for a being old enough to long for the good old biblical times when miracles were simpler to pull off, Noah never seems especially wise or knowing. Still, it's a spirited story, and readers will look forward to the likely sequels. (Fantasy. 11 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763639853
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Norma Howe is the author of the acclaimed Blue Avenger trilogy and numerous other books for young readers. She lives in California.

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  • Posted January 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Lesley for

    The role of a Guardian Angel is to become a new identity and get close to the person you're trying to protect. You have no powers, no magic; you just have to be like a bodyguard, always ready for anything.

    Our Angel of the story has been depressed over his last assignment for over a decade, never having a chance to leave Heaven because of his incident. That's when his Angel friend, Jake, gives him a second chance, to help a girl in Las Vegas.

    Our Angel becomes Noah Sark, a teenage boy who is put in place with a bag of clues and extra help to guide him along the way. Books, maps, even a frog! He is to help a girl named Barbra who bears a striking resemblance to the assignment he can't forget.

    Noah, Barbra, and Barbra's new boyfriend, Andy, all plan on going to a psychic convention. When will Barbra need his help? All he needs to do is watch and wait for the moment.

    With vivid detail, the author shows us a side of Vegas that is fun to read. If you haven't been to Vegas, here is a great way to be right there in it with Noah and his newfound friends.

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