Griffin has many of the same troubles as other 16 year-old boys. He's trying to figure out how to deal with the opposite sex, namely his girlfriend, Katie. He has to work with a body that is going through changes, as well as trying to figure out his place in the world. Also, as the fall semester comes to an end, Griffin is facing his final exam, one that might just kill him.
Griffin is not a typical teenager. He's part of a race called Terrae Angeli (literally, "Earth Angels"). Griffin is an apprentice, and to pass his final exam--the Proeleum--Griffin will have to outwit and, in essence, fight his way past his original mentor, a Terra Angelus named Nicopolus, who absolutely hates him.
This book reminded me somewhat of Rachel Vincent's "Soul Screamers" series in the way it combines characters on the supernatural fringe--Terrae Angeli are the lowest order of Angels, and the bean sidhe are neither gods nor demons--whose purpose is to interact with humans.
I liked the way "Griffin Rising" author Darby Karchut showed how Griffin's relationship evolved with his kindly new Mentor, Basil, and how a little kindness and sympathy went a long way toward helping Griffin develop, both as a Terra Angelus and a teenager (albeit a potentially immortal one with power over fire and earth, as well as the ability to fly, and The Might, which is just capital-p Power).
(If nothing else, Ms. Karchut manages not to mangle written English the way my last two sentence/paragraphs did.)
I'm not a YA person, as a rule. However, when my friend Kelly recommends a particular YA book, I trust her judgment. She is my all-knowing YA book maven.
Anyway, this was a fast, enjoyable read. Although it's been quite a long time since I was in the Young Adult target audience, I think young teens or tweens, even, would enjoy this. There is a little violence, and some smooching, but I don't recall there being any real profanity (a "pissed" or two, as in "Mom will be pissed, not "I just pissed"), or anything else objectionable. (This ain't "Clerks 2," by a longshot)
It's my weekend, and as soon as I finish typing this, I'll start on the sequel, "Griffin's Fire." That's probably as good a recommendation as I can give it.