Myridian's Reviews > The Angel's Game

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
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's review
Nov 24, 12

bookshelves: fiction, historical-fiction, magical-realism
Read from November 03 to 24, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I am trying to judge this book on it's own merits, but that's so hard as it suffers by comparison with Zafon's first book in this series, [book The Shadow of the Wind]. This book takes place in the same fictional Barcelona that Zafon created for the first book, but actually predates Shadow of the Wind by about a generation. In this novel, we follow David Martin as he is launching a career as a writer of serialized horror novels. We learn bits about his trauma-filled childhood and his relationships with the grandfather of The Shadow of the Wind's main character as well as a host of other colorful individuals.

The novel then takes an odder and odder tact as Martin enters into a pact with a sinister character who appears to be either the actual devil or simply a devil in Martin's mind. What I loved about The Shadow of the Wind was that it walked the line of magical realism so cleverly. It never left off feeling inherently believable. Unfortunately that wasn't the case for The Angel's Game. We never learn if the magic present in the book is supposed to be real or just a facet of Martin's broken mind. On the one hand that made the book inherently dissatisfying, but on the other hand I think Zafon had painted himself into a corner. Either the book would have ended up reading like a reworking of Fight Club, or it would have firmly crossed the line onto the magical side. As it was it felt like Zafon picked the best of a bunch of bad conclusions. Right up until the end though I was hoping that Zafon would pull out something that really surprised and wowed me, which he never did.

The second real problem with this book is that the characters feel flat. Again, this is by comparison with The Shadow of the Wind. David Martin is simply not as likable or sympathetic as Daniel Sempere, and the female love interest just seems limp until she too has a mental breakdown.

The prose does continue to be beautiful, and Zafon's Barcelona is the most striking thing about the book.

I'm going to wait to decide if I should pick up the next in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.

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Quotes Myridian Liked

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“Everything is a tale, Martin. What we believe, what we know, what we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating an emotional content. We only accept as true what can be narrated.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel's Game

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“Life had taught her that we all require big and small lies in order to survive, just as much as we need air. She used to say that if during one single day, from dawn to dusk, we could see the naked reality of the world, and of ourselves, we would either take our own lives or lose our minds.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel's Game

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“I wandered off, walking through streets that seemed emptier than ever, thinking that if I didn't stop, if I kept on walking, I wouldn't notice that the world I thought I knew was no longer there.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel's Game

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