Newest Review: ... her grasp - but also a secret about her own past and its links to the Angelologists. Possession of either could cost Evangeline her lif... more
Angels are demons
Angelology - Danielle Trussoni
Member Name: Secre
Angelology - Danielle Trussoni
Advantages: Characters and an interesting idea
Disadvantages: So, so infuriatingly slow
The first thing to say about the plot is that it is split into three sections which are interspersed throughout the novel. The first and possibly the most important is the current story of Evangeline which is told from her perspective. Interspersed with this is the same story told from the perspective of Percival Grigori and Verlaine. And the final section, which is situated approximately half way through the novel is the past told through the eyes of the now Sister Celestine and Evangeline's grandmother; Gabriella.
From the title of the book it is quite obvious that it directly pertains to angels, but this isn't your usual tale about angels. Usually angels are portrayed as shining creatures of light who are God's messengers from above, they are nearly always perfect creatures of God's will who show up all of humanity's failings. They are God's messengers. They are what we cannot even hope to aspire to. In this book though, although that type of angel does exist, we don't see them. Instead this book addresses a far darker kind of angel. These are the angels which live on earth and they are not pure angels, they are the progeny of angel and human breeding in ages long gone by. They are by no means perfect, but they still possess the sense of superiority of the angels of before because they are descended from an immortal race and they are better than humans. Unfortunately they do not possess the morality that humans have, and they have lost any hope of God redeeming them. The humans who study angeleology are a select group who are desperately working in an attempt to counteract the tyranny that these angels wish to unleash upon humanity.
You see, Evangeline was given up by her father to the St Rose Convent when she was little more than twelve years old. She knows little more about the work which her parents did other than it was enough to get her mother killed, and that her father rarely if ever talks about either his work or his deceased wife. So Evangeline doesn't know why her mother was killed, or by who. Well, this is until she is assisting a mysterious visiting scholar in the convent and she starts to uncover a disturbing set of secrets relating to her family. And suddenly she finds herself in a great deal of trouble, and a great deal of danger and she's in a struggle for her life and the lives of everyone she holds dear. She suddenly has to grow up very quickly, and she has to leave the sheltered laws of the convent which have governed her life for most of her young life because she us engaged in a war that has been going on behind the scenes for centuries. But it is just about to reach its climax...
This is one area where I cannot fault the book as Danielle Trussoni has depicted all of the characters wonderfully. A large amount of suspense in the novel comes from the fact that half the time you are not quite sure which characters you are meant to trust. Danielle Trussoni has really spent a lot of time on her character development, and her effort really does shine through as does the sense of mysteriousness which she has tried so hard to cultivate.
From Evangeline who is the typical young, na´ve and sheltered nun and the only character you know you can trust, but who is the most vulnerable in the entire novel, to Percival Grigori with his cold and heartless view on the world. You truly run the gauntlet of emotions. But what is probably the most genius aspect of the novel is the depiction of the angels throughout. As I stated earlier they are not the golden halo version of angels which we are used to seeing, and tend to be what are depicted in most areas. Instead these are a superior race that want complete dominion over humanity and will stop at nothing to ensure that they get it. They don't have the same moral system which we have, and they see it as their God given right to be the masters whilst we as humanity are the slaves.
Because of this whole dictatorship over humanity thing that the angels seem to have you could be forgiven for thinking that they would be a completely unlikeable race and would be bad guys in a darker shade of black than we could even imagine. Instead, and to be honest I don't quite know how Trussoni has managed this but she has written them with full personalities, and they don't seem evil they just seem desperate. You can to a point understand their motives, even if you are a member of the race which they want to dominate and control. This adds one heck of a kick to the book as you know you should be supporting the humans but at points you are really not quite sure. There is an ambiguity all the way through and this is probably due to the fact that she has written them all in with human personalities so to a point you can empathise with them.
This wouldn't be a full review if I neglected to mention the portrayal and accuracy of religious texts in this novel considering how important and central these are to the novel. And again, I have to admit I was impressed. I was more than half expecting this book to portray a group of religious crazies (otherwise noted as fundamentalists) as the angelologists. Instead, it portrays the angelologists as serious academics and the entire theory behind the novel is backed up by biblical quotes which are fully explained and explored. Obviously the interpretations are fictional, but it is realistic enough to suck you in for the duration of the novel.
But yes, I have to concede that this was a very well thought out novel and the basis for these angels actually existing on earth is fully and coherently done, with actually a very knowledgeable basis on biblical quotes. I have to admit the fact that this can be done makes me even more wary of the religious fundamentalists as it is amazing what you can do with a couple of pieces of scripture.
Well, so far it seems like I've been waxing lyrical about this novel and so you must be wondering why I've only given it two stars. The issue is that the plot idea itself is genius, the character development is fantastic and the use of religious scripture to complement and back up the story at hand is very, very clever. So what was wrong with it?
The answer is very simple. Or at least the big reason is. It was slow. Far too slow. Particularly at the beginning (as in the first 200 odd pages) very little happens quickly. A lot of time is spent on character development and describing the most banal of events in the most detailed manner known to mankind. And this just wound me up as I was desperate to actually get on with some action. The section moved at a much quicker rate and I have to admit I really did enjoy it, but this is the part that is all set in the past and so all the way through over 220 pages you know that you are only reading background material.
This probably irritated me more than it would have in most books because of the critical acclaim at the back of the book:
"An intelligent thriller that rips along like a bat out of hell" (Woman and Home)
"Compulsively readable, thrilling and much, much better than Dan Brown." (Daily Express)
"Clever, whiplash fast" (Marie Claire)
And yes the book is better than Dan Brown, but this isn't saying a great deal in my personal opinion as I have never been all that keen on his style. But under no circumstances could it be called whiplash fast, and nor does it whip along like a bat out of hell!
There are also other issues with the book, but none of that irritated me as much as the 640 pages of slowness to a degree that made me want to hit something...or someone. This does however include a 'twist' which I saw coming from several miles off and the fact that a lot of the book just seems too disjointed as the different character accounts are not tied together well. There is just too much skipping between characters in the first and third sections of the book and I often found it difficult to click into a new character. It seems like there is very little to actually link many of the various characters and you just seem to be plunged in at the deep end far too often.
It wasn't a bad book. But when a conclusion starts like that it doesn't tend to be a good sign! It had a massive amount of potential, but it never actually cashes in on this potential which makes it a very disappointing read. So, can I recommend it? Only if you have a lot of spare time on your hands and are very interested in religious fiction. Even then, I wouldn't recommend buying it at full price!
"Their disobedience was an act of free will - a very human quality reminiscent of Adam and Eve's ill conceived choice in the garden. The disobedient angels were also capable of a uniquely human variety of love - they loved wholly, blindly, recklessly. Indeed, they traded heaven for passion, a trade that is difficult to fully comprehend, especially because you and I have given up all hope of such love."
Summary: Interesting proposition let down by the pace of the book.