Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#33 Friend Recommended: The Fallen by Tom Sniegoski

I love books. I especially love books with a new and interesting twist on fantastical beings that I've never read before. Which is part of why I read so many vampire books. But really, I'll take any fantastical being and I was excited to read a book recommended to me by one of my best friends, Jimmy.

Tom Sniegoski's The Fallen puts a new twist on angels.  Sure, there are some that are kind of like guardian angels, but for the most part these are the vengeful, brutal and judgmental angels from the Old Testament. Ranked by Catholic hierarchy, these angels are supposed to be hunting down evils that were left on the earth when God created it, evils that had existed before God made any of His creations. These Angels also hunted for the angels that had followed Lucifer and been cast out of heaven, now the avenging angels who had remained loyal to God are hunting down the fallen angels and slowly killing them off as punishment. In addition to killing the fallen angels, the avenging angels are also killing off any progeny that results from a mating between angels and humans, called the Nephilim.

The main reason for the genocide of the Nephilim is a prophecy that a human oracle made, saying that one day a Nephilim would bridge the gap between earth and heaven so that the fallen angels could return home. This made the loyal angels incredibly angry, that those who had betrayed them all might be forgiven, and so the angels kill off as many of the fallen as they can and all of the Nephilim that they can in order to prevent this from ever happening.

Not surprisingly, the books center around the life of the prophesied Nephilim.

As young adult books, the four books of the Fallen that are available are great. Fast-paced, fill with adventure, and also containing a bit of a morality tale. It's easy to recognize the avenging angels as being particularly close to close-minded humans who commit evil in the name of God for no other reason then they refuse to open their minds to the idea that they might be wrong. Compassion, forgiveness and open-mindedness are the lessons of the day.

The main character, Aaron, frustrated me quite a bit. Rather than going through any kind of character development, Aaron shuttles back and forth between being 100% against the idea of being The One and doubting all of those who tell him that he is and 100% convinced and assured that he is The One. One moment he'll be convinced, the next moment he's not. My frustration with his character, which was almost enough to make me frustrated with the entire series, was saved by the likable and amiable character of his best friend: his dog Gabriel.

I would have like to read an adult version of these books to be honest. I felt like the plot and characters could have been fleshed out a lot more. It takes until the middle of the third book to get the full back story on the angel's fall from grace, the subsequent hunt for fallen angels and the strange set of circumstances which have brought about Aaron's life. I would have preferred less action in the first book and more explanation in parts.

There is also very little explanation of what angelic powers are actually made up of. While some powers, such as teleportation, are fairly fleshed out in detail, other powers just seem to develop as they're needed, sometimes by Aaron and sometimes by other random angels. Even though I've read all four books that are available, I still am not entirely sure what angels can and can't do. Everything and very little, it seems. Their power sometimes comes from within them and sometimes comes from arcane spells and symbols.

As a young adult book I found it very satisfying. It's a fun and easy read with lots of different ideas and concepts to mull over. I just found myself wishing that there was a more developed version of these books, because I found the world within them so interesting and I wanted to understand it more fully.

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