Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: Paradox

I'm pretty new to reading fantasy fiction about the whole phenomenon that is angels. I have Supernatural to thank for that. That show totally changed my entire outlook on angels. I no longer see them as sparkling, perfect looking humanoids with giant white wings and defenders of all things good. I like to entertain the idea that there’s something slightly darker and grittier than what’s on their angelic surface; afterall, demons are fallen angels.


Paradox: The Angels are Here, is the first book in the Paradox series by up and coming author, Patti Roberts.  In her first book in this series Roberts does a great job of exploring the premise that not all angels are intrinsically good.

When the book begins the two Houses of the Imperial City--the house of Grigorians, led by Cerberus and the House of the Bulguardians--are in the middle of a war. You get the feeling that the Grigorians are the “bad guys,” (the evil angels), within the first chapter. Even more so when Abaddon, Cerebrus' brother and second in command tells Siena and Theria, his sisters, that he wants "the girl brought to him alive." You don't want to mess with these angels.From the beginning there is a sense of just how power hungry these angels are and just how vicious and cut throat they will be to get what they want. 

Cut to present day Australia where 8-year-old Grace Connors is going to her ballet lesson. Grace hates ballet so she is beyond thrilled to look into the window and sees her reflection, only the little girl staring back at her isn't Grace. She soon finds out that the reflection girl's name is Hope. Grace likes having Hope around, to everyone else it just seems like Grace has an imaginary friend; but Hope is really an angel and the key to Grace remembering who she really is. As Grace grows, so does her interactions with the angels, particularly after the death of her father. Grace doesn't realize it yet but the angels have a plan for her.

[Warning-This review contains spoilers. If that offends you you may want to stop reading three to four paragraphs before the end. Okay, just wanted to give you the heads up.]

The plotline itself is interesting and also very unique. Granted I just started reading books about angels, but this seemed different from the standard religious take on angels is that pretty typical in many novels, urban fantasy or not. And it’s definitely a nice change to the typical zombie, werewolf, vampire and fae focused novels that I normally read. The plotline is an idea that hasn’t really been done before and I was interested in seeing the concept further explored.

Roberts writes beautiful descriptions with great attention to detail that allow the reader to get a clear picture of the intricate world that she has built for her characters to live in. The words almost seem to flow off the page as you read in a way that seems almost poetic. The way she describes Grace's understanding of her father's death was heart wrenching.

Grace is probably my favorite character in the novel just for the simple fact that she isn't your typical fantasy hero. She's a kid who watches Bugs Bunny cartoons and talks to "imaginary" friends, but she's the key to ending the war. Roberts also does a great job at keeping Grace true to form. She doesn't seem like a mini adult, she is a child who is still learning and growing and acts accordingly.

However, I do have to admit that the book as a whole seems a bit unfinished. Of course, being that it is only book one in the series I am forgiving.  Reading through it I caught a few grammatical errors and while irksome, I didn't feel as if they took away from the intent or clarity of the novel as a whole. 

The first book is comprised of two plots. Plot one focuses on the war between the angels in 1080 A.D. Plot two involves Grace in modern day Australia. I get the feeling that eventually the two plots come together in later books and all of the pieces start falling into place, but it was a little confusing since it sort of seems like there are two different stories in the same book.

In my humble opinion, for whatever it's worth, I think the book would have benefitted more if it wasn't a novella. Some parts of the plot seemed under developed but I  genuinely I feel that this is because you can only cover so much ground in 172 pages. I think it would be a little different if The Angels Are Here was a full fledged novel.

There were a number of interesting characters that were introduced into the story (Angela and Wade, specifically) that I wanted to learn more about. But I really feel that the length of the book limited finding out more about each character-- their personalities, traits and interests. It was essentially up to the reader to come to their own conclusions about the characters. I assumed that Lucina, Angela and Wade must be angels since they appear mysteriously and come and go just as mysteriously, but it was unclear why they were there or why and how they were connected to Grace or people in her life.

I also felt that there were a few parts of the story that while interesting and left me wanting to read more weren't explained. Grace suddenly begins having flashbacks and she exclaims, "oh no, not again," before she blacks out; but the black outs hadn't been mentioned before that point in the novel and aren't really explained as far as when they had started or how they affected Grace.

Despite this, Paradox: The Angels are Here was an interesting short read, and I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in the series and finding out more about these characters.

Rating: 4/5

Paradox: The Angels Are Here is the first book in the Paradox series. Also look for Progeny of Innocence in November 2011!


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