Kris's Reviews > Angel Land

Angel Land by Victor J. Banis
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The Review:

Honesty from the outset~

I have only recently - like within the last couple of weeks - started reading this author and am (very) rapidly becoming a rabid fangirl. I find him an amazing storyteller.

First things first~

This is a gripping tale about 'what if'. That is, what could happen when a federal government 'allows' itself to be convinced and in turn sanctions fundamentalist dogma against minority groups, which become easy scapegoats in a time of great uncertainty.

The post-Apocalyptic American world the author has created is a perfect setting for this story and, given recent events, is likely to make for uncomfortable reading for a number of people. Although I am not from the US, I also found it terrifyingly believable.

One of the other aspects of the book that resonated with me was the fact it is not only a glimpse of a possible future, but is, I think, a chilling reminder of the religious and public reaction against gays during the 'discovery' of HIV and AIDS in the 1970s and 1980s.

Having said this, it is also a tale of hope and again reflects the strong sense of community and activism that occurred in places like Castro, San Francisco (oh, the irony! you need to read the book to understand) in this time period.

I enjoyed the past and current - often humorous - references the author sprinkled throughout the book and they also acted to connect me with the story. Least of which is the main character, 'Harvey Milk' Walton and, yes, he's named after THAT Harvey Milk , who is a likeable rogue and a (very) reluctant hero:

He smiled and nodded. “Ah, yes, indeed, you speak rightly. We need a future. We need people with ideas, ideas and courage to make the future happen. Heroes, in other words. I suppose you know there’s a legend that Harvey Milk will return one day to lead his people to freedom.” His eyes fastened on me like laser beams.

“Sorry, wrong Harvey Milk, Doc. It’s every man for himself, as far as I’m concerned. Auntie used to say, a coward’s life is a long life.” I thought about that for a moment. “Of course, now that I think of it, Auntie didn’t live so long.”

A couple of issues/warnings~

This is not really 'gay for you' by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, there are elements of this in the way Harvey's love interest, Aram, suddenly gives up a lifetime's worth of teachings and beliefs to have a relationship with him.

Personally, I think it's more along the lines of star-crossed lovers, finding soul mates against the odds, yada, yada, yada. Oops; sounds a bit dismissive, doesn't it? I don't (well, maybe a little bit) mean it that way. What to keep in mind is that it's usually such a relationship which provides the catalyst for change and progress, and this is certainly the case in Angel Land.

Even though it's in the first person from Harvey's perspective, the POV does seem to jump around a little bit. However, this is only a minor point and actually gives the reader insight into some of the secondary characters.

My recommendation~

Angel Land is a damn good story, which, in my opinion, is not only pretty close to perfection, but is a cautionary tale I think everyone will benefit from reading.
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Comments (showing 1-13)




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Ingrid You giving out 5 stars?? It must be something special then :)


message 12: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris Hmpf! Cheeky minx. :)

This is my fave of VJB's work. It's a review that I did for Wave's site aeons ago, but I decided to add all of the reviews that I've done for her to goodreads. I'll be adding my tastings to goodreads too.


Ingrid IC, anyway I have bought it right away :)


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, I bought it too and it looks great. Thanks for the rec! But I can't start it until I finish the non m/m book I'm reading. One has to have rules, you know.


Kris Just remember the both of you... NOT MY FAULT!


message 8: by Kassa (new)

Kassa Yea this is on my list for TDB and your review pushed it up several spots. Thank you! I've never read VJB before so I can't wait.


Kris Well, at least you can't blame me since you already have it, Kassa. :) I'll look forward to seeing what you think of it, especially getting VJB's insight into the 1970s/1980s.


message 6: by Kassa (new)

Kassa I wouldnt blame you either way .. mostly... only a little.


Kris How reassuring... *rolls eyes*


message 4: by Kassa (new)

Kassa *grins* I still offer cookies though!


Kris *taps foot* Well, where are they then??


message 2: by Kassa (new)

Kassa Kris wrote: "*taps foot* Well, where are they then??"

Check your email.


Kris Lucky!


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