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Full disclosure: Kye, my partner, wrote this review.
More full disclosure: Most authors game the system in order to get reviews. If you're talking about indie authors like myself, I'd go as far as to say almost all of them do. I'm not one of them, which is why most of my published works have no reviews at all.
Kye has reviewed Melody's story arc top to bottom, and both novels in Angel. She may have reviewed a couple of other offerings, but I'm too lazy to go and confirm it. Regardless, she posts her reviews at Smashwords and nowhere else. Since posting a review at Smashwords is a lot like farting in an abandoned mining cave in the Oregon wilderness in the middle of the night (translation: absolutely no one will notice or care), no harm is done.
Get real, folks: If you see an author with tons of 4- and 5-star reviews, trust--trust--that the vast majority of those reviews are fake. That includes traditionally published authors, the ones who go through publishing houses.
I refuse to play the game. Which means I'm condemning myself in many ways to even more obscurity. But I really like sleeping at night; and I'm proud to say that I have a conscience and a soul that demands I do the right thing and not deceive the reading public. Most of those in my profession, sadly, cannot make the same claim.
With that in mind, please enjoy Kye's review.
When I read Angel: Book One, I thought it would be a standalone novel. It ended with quite a cliffhanger, however, so I was thrilled and relieved when I found out it was getting a sequel.
I won’t go much into plot details on Book Two since doing so would result in spoilers for Book One. I will simply say it involves the first mission of an angel who returns to earth, tasked with saving a teen girl who is being abused by her family and community.
The world featured in this story (and its predecessor) is not far removed from our own. It is complete with all of its horrors, and unlike many other religious or spiritual works, this series does not sugarcoat any of them. God in this universe is not omnipotent, and evil does not fulfill some sacred purpose. There is no palliative to lighten the blow, no platitudes to take the edge off. Even God sometimes is helpless. Evil is recognized for what it is: evil.
So when I say I wish that I lived in this world, you know that there is some potent light to match the darkness. Light here takes the form of friendship and chosen family bonds which transcend life and death. The vision of heaven presented here is a tapestry of souls interwoven from the threads of lives well-lived. Here, people still face challenges even after death, but they do so in the company of their spiritual kin.
An omnipotent God (as is a fixture in so many faiths) is a God for children—a parent who can reassure a crying child that “all is well.” He represents power by proxy. Even if He refuses His children their prayers, He is someone to negotiate with—someone who can take responsibility and alleviate that burden from His children.
But a God who is not omnipotent is a God for adults. Those who inhabit His universe must acknowledge their own limitations, because they must acknowledge His. That God will never deny comfort and aid when possible—but such a God sometimes needs aid and comfort as well. Such is the God of Angel.
Themes of detachment often pervade religious works. Angels go their own way after their missions are complete. God uses a light, impersonal, uninvolved touch. The dead transcend the need for bodies, for substance, for the trappings of the finite.
Both volumes of Angel—but particularly this one—are a direct refutation to such a philosophy. Characters in this book expect abandonment, because it’s what they’ve been taught. They rage at God for not helping enough before remembering that God too sometimes rages helplessly at their sides, and they expect their angels to walk away once their missions are complete. But salvation in Angel’s universe is found in choosing attachments, not shedding them, in bridging lives together, not simply passing through them. Heaven is literally built from the connections of souls, and the universe is an ongoing collaborative effort between man and God. The finite merits the love of the infinite, and the most meaningful relationships are personal and tangible. They require that their participants, both mortal and divine, confront each others’ pain—and helplessness—with true empathy and compassion. By definition, that means making the harrowing choice to share firsthand in another’s suffering. Sometimes that is the only way to help.
Night in any world is black, but in this one, the dark is acknowledged, not denied. And the stars shine all the brighter for it.