Monday 20 May 2013

Review: Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Yes, I am back. But only because I need to vent/procrastinate/...alright, I'm too scared to go get the revision book for Physics back off my twin brother because he's an arse, okay?
But really, I needed to vent about this one.
Evangeline has lived at the convent for half of her life, but soon it will no longer be safe: her meeting with a seemingly innocuous art historian, Verlaine, have started wheels turning that should never be turned. A treasure will be unearthed, and life might just go to Hell. Literally. Sort of literally.
I should have known. When there are quotes from good reviews on just about every otherwise unoccupied surface of a book, you know that it has to be treated with caution. Unfortunately, I forgot that fact. I paid for it.

 Shall we start with the good things? Okay. Someone in the quotes likened it to Twilight and the Da Vinci Code. I haven't read the latter, but from what I've heard, it is quite similar. It is also similar to Twilight, so if you like those two things, you're good. Someone else called it a 'page-turner' (the Independent, I think -- the only one that wasn't a rave of exclamation marks and hyperbole). It was certainly that. I read it instead of doing revision. Also, but not mentioned in the quotes, was that research and thought had obviously gone into the creation of the Angelologists and their society. There was clear history and background and references to famous people of the past, which your secret societies always need. Huzzah.

 Now it's time for the bad things.
 We'll start with the least bad thing -- the thing that is simply a reflection on me: I didn't like the time it was set in. I was three years old in 1999, and while that was the year needed to make sense of the rest of it, I straight away felt a sense of alienation. I don't know what life was like at the time from personal experience, and it's not something you go over in history, either. To be fair, there weren't very many pop-culture references if there were any at all other than the totally gratuitous use of the model and make of every single blooming car that was used, but I still felt a bit adrift in the happenings. I couldn't picture it.

 Second on the bad list: inconsistencies. There were loads of them. And not in the way that you get typos (although I did see a couple of those). These were inconsistencies in who knew what, which, when writing a conspiracy-thriller-type-thing I would imagine would be the first thing the writer had locked into their mind. For example, Evangeline got a letter from a VA Verlaine, and somehow knew he was a man. This is at the very beginning, and I almost dropped the book then and there (I didn't because I had borrowed it and it would be rude to go back saying 'I tried the first few pages, but this book you thought was good enough to reccommend was shit). It's not the only time that it happened, however, though I don't want to go into things that might be spoilers.

 I say 'might be' because, for a book written in a genre that sells on its surprising twists and turns, I saw none. 'I wonder where the lyre, or at least something to do with the lyre, might be. Hmm.' Nope. I knew almost straight away. 'I wonder what it is they're looking for'. The lyre. Duh. It's on the seal. Double duh. I don't tend to read this genre of books, so it's not just that I realise the pattern, like I might do with a paranormal romance (she meets a guy -- he's a love interest, not a friend). Unless I'm ten times more intelligent than whoever reads these types of books (which I doubt), either they like knowing what's going to happen and being proved right, or this is a bad example of the whole conspiracy thing. I vote for the latter.

 Also, in this vain, Verlaine and Evangeline. If you're looking for a bit of good romance while you read, then you're screwed. All the romances in the novel are of the 'inexplainable love at first sight' variety, and are not described in more detail than passing -- and the only reason they're described in passing is because it's in some way useful to the story as a whole.

 Another bad thing? Changing PoV. The second section, about two to three hundred words in, was suddenly written in the past. While this was helpful for those of us who need a lot of help with working out twists (or need to make the book look like a tome to invite Dan Brown fans to read it), for the rest of the world, it was not just a waste of time, it was annoying. The voice was probably one of the most realistic in the whole novel, but I didn't care about what happened in the past -- after all, I already had an idea about most of it -- and it could have been condensed by one of the characters in the present time of the novel without much difficulty (in fact, most of it was, just in case you didn't get it the first time).

The present time was over maybe two days (at a stretch). The only good thing about this was that the characters seemed as bemused about it as I was. They were constantly looking back in that 'was it only yesterday?' way that you sometimes put into a book in case your reader has lost perspective of the time used up because it's so damn long that they've spent close on a week reading it.

Talking of characters, they had a bad habit of being extremely detailed in their descriptions of what happened to them. In fact, they basically all spoke in purple prose. There was one guy who was dying of radiation poisoning but was still happy enough to explain how clever a ladder was. Really.

 Finally, we've got to the last bad thing I can think of or remember or whatever: the ending. You know when you love the characters so much, you can imagine the next five, ten, fifty pages after the ending? I got that feeling. But not because I loved the characters, no way Jo-frikkin'-se. It was because it finished strangely, as if begging for a sequel from its publishers. It could easily have finished about five pages before -- although you'd not be able to find out what happened with Evangeline and Verlaine. Speaking of whom, why is Verlaine the only person in the whole thing whose first name is never known? But back to the ending. In short, it was crap.

As the ratio of good things to bad may suggest, I hated this book with a passion, not least because it was nearly six hundred pages and I could have been revising or sitting about or ANYTHING but reading it. It gets one star, and only because I don't have a 'zero' jpeg.
Angry Charlie out!

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