From the first page, this novel kicks off with a bang. The plot begins and races towards a final climax that gives all it was promising. Sprinkled inFrom the first page, this novel kicks off with a bang. The plot begins and races towards a final climax that gives all it was promising. Sprinkled in during some of the downtimes is Billi's (often confused) thoughts about what she is trained to do and how her life could have been different if her family wasn't a part of the Templars.
Chadda's writing is confident and smooth, always giving the right amount of description without taking away from the pacing of the novel. The sentences are beautiful and often times, so completely different, you really feel like you're in the head of someone who sees the world in a completely different light. I offer a passage that will stick with me (during those long hours of trying to find the perfect word to describe a scene...):
"Elysium Heights," she said. She followed the spine of the building upward. It looked like the skeleton of some ancient giant, reaching out of his grave and grasping for Heaven. The sky hung low and brooding over it, like an angry thought.- Pg. 132
Another thing that was really great about this novel was the mythology of the Templars laced in with the reality of her life and the mixture of medieval tradition with angels and demons. The Templars were not the radical religious group that history has made them out to be, but rather a group of men (with the exception of one, of course) who fight a war against the Unholy (not necessarily meaning Hell).
There were a lot of things to like about this book but there were also a lot of things that fell a little flat. Several of these things are purely my taste and I can completely understand why some people wouldn't mind.
My first big thing about this book was that it was in third person. As a writer, I prefer first person and also as a reader, I prefer first. I've got a really good reason for this though, I promise. My reasoning is that I find it really hard to connect to a character if I'm not in their head. While Chadda tried really hard to let me know how Billi felt or what she thought about something, it still felt like there was this invisible fence set up between me as the reader and her as a character. Because of this, her character, in general, felt lacking to me.
My next huge thing was an expectation. I saw the cover of this novel and read the blurb and was expecting a kick ass female lead who could really hold her own. Billi fell flat for me. She could kick and punch and fight with multiple weapons but she spent so much time not wanting to be a part of the Knights Templar that it was really all a waste on her. By the time she came around to wanting to kick some butt, most of the other male characters had saved her (twice or three times) and there were only 30 pages left in the book. I wanted her to be bad and I wanted it quickly.
The last thing that would have made it more enjoyable for me is merely something I thought of that would have enhanced Billi's final decision to finally start kicking some butt. ***************** SPOILER******************
The main plot line is stopping Mike (the archangel, Micheal) from unleashing the Tenth Plague and killing all firstborns. On Pg. 229 (and on other pages leading up to and after this page by different characters), Billi has this sort of epiphany where she realizes that if she doesn't stop Mike then no one else will and all the firstborns will die. The thing is, she is a firstborn and so that makes her epiphany sort of selfish. I would have liked her to be a second child (maybe the first died in childbirth) so that her life was not included in this equation. She'd still have to face the fact that by fighting Mike, she'd probably die, but not because of the plague. For me, it would have made her decision to finally accept herself as a true knight feel a little more noble and a little less like a toddler kicking and screaming the whole way through.
*****************END OF SPOILER***************** All that being said, this book is still worth a read through. Chadda has a beautiful writing style, full of surprising details, a great knack for plot and pacing and is daring enough to sacrifice for a better ending. I don't think you'll be disappointed with the read, especially if you don't hold the POV prejudices I do!...more
I was really skeptical to dive into this book. But, I'd been reading Libba Bray's blog a lot during the time she was editing this novel and got a lotI was really skeptical to dive into this book. But, I'd been reading Libba Bray's blog a lot during the time she was editing this novel and got a lot of information about it before it came out so I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did.
Bray shines as the stoner/slacker Cam, wading his way through life. From the first sentence to the end this book is dripping with voice. Everything that is written shows us the world through Cam's eyes and it doesn't feel like a single observation is wasted. He's sarcastic, funny, and sometimes, surprisingly deep on his journey to live.
The plot too is pretty amazing. Everything is tied into a little neat bow by the end and it feels really good. The first hundred pages ease us into Cam, the remaining pages take us on his journey.
The wonderful thing about this plot is it is truly left up to the imagination. It can be read two ways:
Cam is really going on this awesome journey across America
Cam is in the hospital, dreaming about going on his journey
I read it the second way. Bray gives us this wonderful mix of events happening in Cam's head on the journey while blending in little snippets of what's actually happening around his physical body. (Or the other way around, if you read it way 1, in which Cam is imagining these scenes at the hospital while he is on his journey) Then, (if you read it like I did) she leaves the question up to you: does it cheapen it that the entire two week road trip never really happened? My answer is a resounding no. He learned, he loved, he lost. It doesn't matter how it comes, he got to experience it.
Also, everything has meaning in this novel. If you go back to the beginning, you can trace almost every bit of Cam's dream back to something he saw, experienced, or said before his disease.
Dulcie was the leaning angel in the broken snow globe he and his sister gave his father for Christmas that Cam accidentally broke (and in doing so, set her free) when he went to see his father.
Balder stems both from Cam's mother and father. His mother told him stories of Norse mythology when he was little and his father showed him those picture of his students traveling around the world with a gnome.
The Copenhagen Interpretation (a band) mysteriously disappearing before Cam went under and reappearing in his dream connecting with Dr. X and Cam's supplied answer for the disappearance, time travel.
Dr. X himself is Cam's doctor, Dr. Xander.
*Just to name a small few*
Everything has a place and Bray works hard to make everything really count.
*******************End of Spoilers*********************
I loved Cam's character though being in his sarcastic, rather pessimistic head for almost 500 pages was a bit hard to stomach after a while. Also, I would have loved to run into Balder a little earlier on in the novel. He was by far my favorite character and really helped to refresh the story when it was dragging its feet.
There were a few places where the novel felt like it slowed to a complete stop. One of the main things I'd like to have seen cut was the Happiness Cult. They were funny and odd but it took up a lot of precious space and didn't really seem to help the plot along much. I understand that they were there to help Cam accept his disease and the way things had to be but it could have been done some other way in a shorter fashion.
All in all, I'd say that if you want a book that's a lot sarcastic, with hilariously funny quotes and characters, and a little bit tender right where it counts the most, this book is completely for you. It seems like a slow read at first but it delivers. Go for it! It's a definite read!
And I have got to hand it to Libba Bray. She was dealing with some really complex theories and handled it like a pro. I might not understand a lot about alternate realities and string theory but Cam taught me enough to get by!...more
The first thing that comes to my mind about this novel is mood, mood, mood. Set in New Orleans, in an old house near a cemetery, this book oozes withThe first thing that comes to my mind about this novel is mood, mood, mood. Set in New Orleans, in an old house near a cemetery, this book oozes with the heat and smell of the city mixed with the dark oppressing feeling of the past. As Rebecca learns the ropes of New Orleans, you feel like you are right there with her, taking in the smells, seeing the shadowy tombstones and feeling the nervous excitement of befriending a ghost. I loved being wrapped up in the New Orleans society wars, where heritage and money mean more than anything and where everything looks exactly as it had 100 years ago. The author did an awesome job with the setting!
The plot is fast paced (for the most part) and while I caught on to the plot close to the middle of the book, it did throw me a few twists and turns and made me want to press on till the end.
The details were vivid and beautiful. I was particularly impressed with the details that Rebecca noted as these were the most telling to an otherwise elusive personality. Rebecca's aunt, however, was by far my favorite character and the most memorable.
I did have a hard time penning down Rebecca which I didn't like. By the time the ending came around, I didn't really care all too much what happened to her, so long as I got a good ending. Also, some parts near the middle of the book felt a bit slow and as always, I had a bit of a problem believing her and Anton's (the rich, mysterious boy she gets a thing for) relationship. This is mostly due to the fact that for the second half of the book, he's completely absent for plot's sake.
However, the ending is explosive and with a curse, an unsolved murder and a flurry of ghost activity I have to say that overall I really enjoyed the read!...more