Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Flying, Winged, Non-Monkey Potentital Villains ... and their Offspring.

Part I.
The Angels were all singing out of tune,
And hoarse with having little else to do,
Excepting to wind up the sun and moon
Or curb a runaway young star or two.
~Lord Byron

Right, so I felt all scholarly (due to this essay I can never seem to be rid of) and used a Byron quote - trust me on this: when in doubt, Byron and Tennyson. Not sure why (I have an inkling it may have to do with the "y" where none should be, but meh) but they always seem to have the right words. Or, at least smart enough sounding words that no one can tell if they're right or not.


Anyways, avid reader that I am, even though I am in this blizzard of harsh exams, I have finished the second book of what I call the Make-Me-Want-To-Scream Angel series by Becca Fitzpatrick - now, I want to scream for a few reasons: One, the woman has managed to write the most annoying teenaged girl possible - it's like listening to my highschool girlfriends back in highschool - full of that, "I like him so I will treat him badly then when he ignores me I will cry and then punch him" magic that always made me grind my teeth (I have very little patience, though BF is constantly telling me I have a sadistic streak that makes me beat him - ha! He doesn't know what beating is!) - Like, honestly, Nora? Grow a pair (meant completely non sexist like). Second, The woman writes an annoying main character but f*cking awesome steam scenes.

What? I am a sucker for steam. Especially when it involves pictures in my head where the love interest hooks fingers into main character's jeans and tugs. Not sure why, but the word "tug" makes me all mushy inside. Must be a past life thing.

Anyways, now that I got that all off my chest, let's go into something more substantive: Reviewing ....
Hush, Hush and Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick, Angeleology by Danielle Trussoni and The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruis Zafon.

Oh, and for fun, a look at Angels.
And some Castiel ... love me some Cas.... * insert crazy heart palpitations and girly smile here*

(1) Hush, Hush and Crescendo
(Synopses from the official website - click on images)

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy, Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.

The further Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim bloodline has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

So basically, these books chronicle the story of Nora (aforementioned irritating damsel) and Patch (kick *ss Fallen Angel) and their weird, often times super hot, always kind of edgy romance, with a backdrop of angel intrigue, secret societies, Maury-like paternity tests, and a whole lot of great convos with my personal favourite character, Vee (token bestie. Totally awesome. Would read a story just for her)

Now, say what you want about the mix - tall, dark mysterious stranger walks into young girl's chaste life and mixes it up with tonnes of danger, some dashing and then words of some type of commitment punctuated with a kiss - but I have always found in my reading life, that it's not so much the predictability of a plot (and all plots are somewhat predictive) but the way its written that ought to matter.

So yes, this is predictable. But again, the steam is hot, the images in my head were definitely not PG (take that you sparkly tease!) and the characters (asides from my issues with Nora) were pretty good.

If you flash back to my review of The Glass House by Rachel Caine, I think the thing that drew me into that book works for this review too: the rawness of it. For The Glass House, it was the beat down scene where our awesome main character, Claire gets her hiney slunged (yes, I make up words) by the nastiest biotch in existence. For this, it's the complete animosity that exists between Nora and Patch as we start out, and the teenage-ness to it. It really took me back, honestly.
Remember those awkward group dates where your bestest friend in the whole world would totally skip off on you for "alone time" - or worse (usually better) so you could have alone time? Yeah, that was there. With the added touch of psychos. Oh, and angels.

And here's the thing of it: I like these books because they recall that in me - that spirit of being in highschool, that awkwardness that still kind of sort of secretly (not so secretly) makes me laugh and reminisce. Against a backdrop of Angels. Like Buffy with her vamps - never losing the sight that the characters are human teenagers.

That, and sex. Like come on, people. No seriously, huge pet peeve: why is it that young adult novelists feel they need to cut out sex? It just ain't realistic anymore, and shame on you, novelists, for thinking that the girls who read your books are all shy, quiet virginial types who want characters like them - I read a lot, and I am definitely not Bella Swan - and when I read a romance, there best actually be romance - and that means action: maybe not sex, maybe not other things, but I imagine the chemistry must be crackling - it's highschool, everything was life or death, everything was so raw and exciting and seemed too real. Stop sugar coating things! So thanks, Fitzpatrick, for giving me a bit of what I want ;)

Now onto this Angel thing: it's huge, have you noticed? Everywhere I turn these days, the wings are flying. Nevermind with Angels & Demons (which had no Angels, sigh), but we have Legion (I think I am (a) the only person who saw that movie, and (b) the only person who LOVED it), Supernatural has a huge Angel and demon vibe to it (yay! Cas!) and now, more and more, authors are cashing in on it: Asides from the above, we have Halo, Angelology, The Angel's Game, The Fallen, etc.

And here is why I think it works, and why I find it so bizarre: Angels are God's messengers (I grew up in a Catholic school, so ... yeah, just bear with - my atheist soul is cringing with each word). I remember at the age of, about 12, I asked my choir teacher, Mr. Richard, whether or not my dead relatives could be my guardian angel. Mr. Richard, a devout Acadian Catholic told me quite firmly that it was a ridiculous and sentimental notion, and that Angels were androgynous messengers of God, created to be tools through which God can control things on earth. Suffice to say, my 12 year old atheist mind had problems with that, esp. the fact that they were all "male" and allegedly had no free will. I mean - they fell, right? That seems to indicate a choice, right?

And it's that ambiguity, that fall from grace that hooks us in, I think. There is something in being close to paradise, and choosing something else that makes us interested. In the same way that 108 year old vampires going to high school makes us interested: it's a way of looking at our own culture through something else. And with Angels - and the myriad of legends, cultural myths, stories and interpretations to go on - those characterizations can come about in tonnes of ways.

It doesn't work when we idealize them, though - when Angels become gods in themselves. The interpretation of angels as seen through my music teacher's eyes - the androgynous, benign messengers of God - like appendages that work mindlessly. I am reminded, kind of, of that show long ago, Touched by an Angel - every time I caught it on tv, I would watch, and at the end I was disappointed, and I never realized why, until I saw that great movie (shuddup about my movie choices) The Prophecy (1995). Angels need choice, they need moral compasses that can be blown off course - or they don't work. They need to get dirty.

And this is why, even though Nora frustrates me, I keep reading for Patch - because he's fallen, and miserable about it, but hell if he wouldn't do it all over again. There is something uniquely human about him, but also something so divinely stubborn, that you're pulled into his story, even if you're spending half of it urging him to forget Nora and her insanity (okay, okay, I know I'm harsh).

Angels, are both the ideal and the warning: they can be full of grace or completely fallen, and it really depends on their story to say whether its true or not. The reason they seem to appeal is the magnitude of the consequences of their falling or the sacrifices associated with their staying in grace.

Stay tuned for Part II, Angelology and the Contrast between humans and Angel Offspring ...



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