Christine's Reviews > Angelica

Angelica by Sharon Shinn
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it was ok
bookshelves: science-fiction, romance

This is the 4th book in the series, but it goes back in time to take place before the beginning of the 1st book. It stands alone as a romance between Garon, the next chosen archangel, and Suzannah, his chosen Angelica.

After thoroughly enjoying the previous two books in the series and at least finding myself inspired by the world building and politics of the original book, I was very disappointed with this one. It began more slowly than any book to date, spending an entire chapter boring me with details of a perfectly ordinary life in an Edori camp before anything marginally interesting happens.

Structurally, this is more a romance than any of the books to date, although each has centered around a romance. And with the exception of the first book, I thought the romance subplots were fine. In this book, however; the structure of the romance was very reminiscient of the romance in the first book -- two people chosen to be together, who barely spend any time together or talk much, who love each other and for inexplicable reasons decide the other feels differently without even bothering to check first. There was no inspirational courtship, passion, or anything else. The characters themselves were likeable enough, and sympathetic, but if a book is primarily a romance, even one that takes place on another planet, I would think we'd want a number of scenes with the two of them actually together.

But that wasn't the only weakness. Aside from a romance, this book attempted to create a dangerous world situation in the form of attackers from another planet. These attackers were unconvincing in both motive and strategy, and I found the end to this subplot entirely unsatisfying...even lame. (Would go into details but would prefer to keep this spoiler free.)

We also had to spend a number of excrutiating chapters in the POV of a spoiled brat, Garon's sister, who I hated and who never fully redeemed herself in my eyes, even after she learned a few hard life lessons. She went beyond rebellious. She was a selfish girl who actively set out to hurt other people and then acted surprised by their injuries.

Possibly the worst issue I had with this book, however; was that it managed to undermine some of the love I felt for the world from the first three books. This book takes place a mere 250 years after the settling of the planet and yet their language has already evolved to the point where they cannot understand the language of the settlers at all. I'm no linguist, but while I'm sure I'd have no clue what an Egnlish-speaker from 1,000 years ago was saying and would have to struggle with the ones from 500 years ago, I think I could come up with quite a bit of common ground talking to someone from the mid-1700's. What force would cause a language to change so quickly? I don't know.

I also found the extreme differentiation of the tribes after 250 years to be a little odd. The ship had 700 people on it, which is a small enough group that I'd expect them to have a lot of cultural similarities at that time. Differentiation will certainly occur, but I have trouble reconciling the differences between the Jansai and the Edori, for instance. These groups seemed to have sprung out of the spaceship the way they were and in both culture and genetics (skin and hair coloring) are far more distinctive than I would expect after a mere two and a half centuries.

Perhaps some of these things were issues in the first 3 books, but I overlooked them, partly because I liked a lot of what the author was doing with the world, partly because more time had elapsed since the founding of the planet which could explain the cultural drift, and partly because the plots were more interesting and didn't give me as much time to nit pick.

I can't honestly recommend this book, even to those who have enjoyed the series.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 24, 2010 – Shelved
September 24, 2010 – Shelved as: science-fiction
September 24, 2010 – Shelved as: romance

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