Judge by the Cover (Hafu Sans Halo #1) by Melissa Abigail


Haruna Mitsukai is an overachiever with dreams of attending the University of British Columbia.

Ryu Debiru is a bad boy whose only desire is to escape this ridiculous prison called “life.”

Both attend Shady Glenn Academy and despite their similar “hafu” identity, they couldn’t despise each other more.

Years of avoidance come to an end when a major assignment on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice pairs them together.

Just as everything reaches a breaking point, revelations about an old East Side mansion called “Heaven” causes Haruna to question everything she thought she knew about him.

As for Ryu? Well, all that glitters is most certainly not gold.


Haruna is a very annoying character. I felt like the author tried too hard to make her unlikable. She doesn’t really improve with the book either until right near the end. Ryu is a different story. He is very complex and well thought out. He had all the character depth that Haruna lacked. He was a shining star in this otherwise bland cast of characters.


This book tried way too hard to be mysterious. The problem is the first half of the book is so boring. I was actually not enjoying the whole high school plot with Haruna and her friends. It was rather repetitive at times and I felt like the first half of the book could have been cut in half with the second half being expanded.

Also I get that Haruna and Ryu went to school together but sometimes I felt like Haruna and Ryu being thrown together too often. Like they were two bouncy balls tied together by a string that kept contracting and pulling them together. I believe this was worse because it felt forced at times.

That being said the plot after about the 60% point really picks up! I after that I rushed to finish it because the main POV switched from Haruna to Ryu and his POV was much more interesting. There were some aspects of his chapters that fell short, but they were much more lively. I wondered if the contrast between Haruna and Ryu was purposeful to show the gab between them even more, but it felt too wide.


The writing could be sharpened but was find for a Young Adult read and had limited errors. The setting was flat. Although the characters weren’t all interesting, but some of the characters were fantastic. They could be given some work to polish them up and make them more realistic. Haruna was complex but she also felt fake to me – again this could have been on purpose but to me it was distracting and annoying.

I had a hard time marrying up the first half of the book with the second half of the book. Where the first half of the book was dull and difficult to get through, the second half of the book was gripping and interesting. The pacing of this book could be greatly improved. It was a decent Young Adult novel and for those who like high school based novels with a twist, this is a good read.


3 stars

I didn’t love or hate this book. If you like books that develop slowly, this book is for sure for you, it just wasn’t for me. It earns 3 stars because I like the root premise of this book: Don’t judge a person by how they look.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.


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