Written by: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Romantic Science Fantasy
Pages: 390 (Mass Market Paperback)
The premise: ganked from BN.com: Through science, faith, and the force of will, the Harmonics carved out for themselves a society that they perceived as perfect. Diverse peoples held together by respect for each other and the prospect of swift punishment if their laws were disobeyed. Fertile land that embraced a variety of climates and seasons. Angels to guard the mortals, and mystics to guard the forbidden knowledge. Jehovah to watch over them all... Generations later, the armed space cruiser Jehovah still looms over the planet Samaria, programmed to unleash its arsenal if peace is not sustained. But an age of corruption has come to the land, threatening that peace and placing the Samarians in grave danger. Their only hope lies in the crowning of a new Archangel. The oracles have chosen for this honor the angel named Gabriel, and further decreed that he must first wed a mortal woman named Rachel. It is his destiny and hers. And Gabriel is certain that she will greet the news of her betrothal with enthusiasm, and a devotion to duty equal to his own. Rachel, however, has other ideas...
Must Have: What else can I say here that I haven't said in the full, non-spoilery review? How much I found myself immersed in a story that mixes science fiction, fantasy, and love story with ease? I was immersed in this book by the end of the second page and already looking up the sequels. Should I talk about my love of the juxtaposition of religion and science, and how cleverly and believably the author handles this? Or the way this book alludes to the Old Testament without, in any way, being preachy and awkward? I'm no longer the most religious person in the world, but this book didn't offend in any way (though that's not to say that a super-hard-core atheist wouldn't pick this book apart because they can). For people who are tired of angel stories, let me stress this: let this book be your exception. It was written LONG before the YA paranormal angel craze took over, and you can bet it's going to be a lot more mature that what's currently popular in the market now. This is a book that reads like a fantasy, that has delicious science fictional clues to its world-building, and also has a mature, non-traditional love story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and look forward to one day getting to the sequels.
Review style: There's a lot to be said about expectations: what the premise promises and what you get; theories while reading and what you get; preconceived notions about Old Testament religion and what you get; genre expectations and what you get. I want to examine expectations and see how they work in the book's favor (but sometimes don't). No spoilers though (save for what's in the premise above), because it's been a while since I finished reading and I'm feeling charitable. ;) Full review is linked to my LJ below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.
REVIEW: Sharon Shinn's ARCHANGEL
Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!
December: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
January: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
February: Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler