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Archangel by Sharon Shinn
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1,476435,042 (4.06)46
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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I really really did not like this book. I went into this novel pretty damn excited since I had read a short story by Sharon Shinn and loved it. She has a very lovely writing style and the world she had built was intriguing. Both of which were pretty true for this book, however its the elements she's inserted into this book's plot that I absolutely detested. This review gets a little rant-y, so you've been warned.

Shinn's Samaria series is set in an alternate reality where angels and humans co-exist. Everyone across the realm is ruled by one Archangel who is divinely chosen every 20 years. Before said angel can become archangel he must first find his angela, which is basically his predestined mate. This happens via the archangel-to-be consulting the oracle and the oracle basically giving him a name and address. Unfortunately, for future archangel Gabriel his angela is Rachel, a farmer's daughter who is currently MIA. Thus, Gabriel begins a tedious search for his would-be wife only to discover that Rachel has been a slave for five years. His reaction to finding out that Rachel is someone who had been forced into slavery? Annoyance that his angela is even lower on the social totem pole than he originally thought. This is quickly followed by embarrassment that his peers will know what his wife was.

Seriously. Gabriel is a dick-head. He doesn't get any better as the book progresses either. His character is over-bearing, contradicting, and just all around unlikable. Everyone tells Rachel to give him a chance and that he's a nice guy, but honestly you never really see that in the story. Its like he's constantly thinking/spouting things because its the "correct" answer but his actions consistently contradict his words. However, despite my instant dislike of Gabriel, I was prepared to see him redeemed to the reader. But then page 57 happened....

Up until this point in the story Rachel had made it pretty clear to Gabriel that she has a severe phobia of heights. So, upon arriving at an angel stronghold, she practically begs him to let her find an alternative method of getting to the top that doesn't consist of being flown up there by him. So what does Gabriel do? He flings her over his shoulder and zooms on up to the very top, then is embarrassed when she cries and has a panic attack. His reaction to the panic attack is this:

"He had never seen anyone in the grip of hysteria before, but instinct and anger supplied him with the antidote. Transferring both her wrists to one of his hands, he slapped her full across the face."

...... I'm sorry that shit is not acceptable. First off, hitting someone is never the antidote. I don't give a shit if Rachel was writhing around on the floor as if possessed by a demon and vomiting pea soup, there is no excuse for hitting her. Also, smacking her under the justification of snapping her out of a fit, but mostly because you're angry and embarrassed of her, is so very very wrong. What made this scene even more disturbing is what happens afterwards... which is nothing. Nothing. Gabriel just freakin' smacked a woman in front of witnesses and what is everyone's reaction? Anger, outrage, fear, hurt, sympathy? Nope. Nothing. Everyone just basically moves on as if he had just offered her tea. Rachel's reaction to being hit? Just a confirmation that, yep, he hit her and then she moves on. Does Gabriel express any sort of personal conflict, remorse, or regret over hitting her? Nope. He apologizes but its made pretty damn clear he isn't sorry at all and says it almost like some sort of politeness reflex so he can walk away from her.

I'm sorry, but this condoning of violence against women is just so fucking wrong. It condones violence through the normalization of a woman being slapped "for her own good" and that such violence has no bigger of an impact than someone sneezing. This scene happens and is quickly brushed off without displaying any of the emotional, psychological, and physical impacts it has on Rachel, the people who witnessed it, or even Gabriel. At this point I'll admit I completely gave up on enjoying the novel. However, for whatever reason, I was still determined to finish it.

I continued with the book, constantly annoyed with the imbalance of power between Rachel and Gabriel. All the power rests in Gabriel's hands and he's not afraid to make it clear to Rachel that he hold the power, but this wasn't the only thing that annoyed me. Rachel was treated by all the characters as a hysterical potential disaster to the point where it became the main part of her character. People are constantly telling her she's over-reacting, physically restraining her because of said over-reactions, and generally just patronizing the hell out of her. And when she's not being patronized, Rachel is being kidnapped or assaulted.

After one such kidnapping, Rachel determines that the only way to save Gabriel and (basically) the world is to jump off a cliff. It was at this point that I thought wait... I've read something like this before:

This conclusion immediately lead me to start picturing Gabriel like this:

Its sad that I was actually able to find a picture of Edward Cullen as an angel. Anyway, in summary, I hated this book. The heroine was annoying and treated like she was completely incompetent for 99% of the book. The hero was an abuser and tyrant. Who, with very little lead-up, did a 180 and turned into a "nice" guy at the very end. The romance wasn't believable as Rachel and Gabriel's page time was primarily separate from each other and moments when they did spend time together were mostly off-page where the reader was basically told, "In the following two weeks Gabriel and Rachel spent oodles of time together". And lastly, the villain and conniving woman were cartoonishly evil and dealt with in a rather absurd and anti-climatic manner.

However, in Shinn's defense I did enjoy her writing voice and the world she has built here is pretty interesting. But I won't be picking up another book in this series. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
Intriguing mention of spaceship as the god of this planet. I wonder where that will go in subsequent books ( )
  Kali.Lightfoot | Jan 10, 2014 |
I liked this book, a lot more than I thought I would. The world of Samaria was fully imagined and the characters were dynamic. Although there is a religious element/biblical references in it, I find that it doesn't take away from the book at all and I usually very much mind biblical references. I loved the music elements. All in all a solid read.

Unless you hate fantasy. ( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |
A rec from a friend as One of Her Favorite Books With Music In It Ever
(as a swap upon/birthday sort of thing for gifting her/making her read Gayle Foreman's If I Stay and Where She Went)

I did not expect to love this book so much. (Which we've both said.) I was giggling in high heaven at Gabriel within the first two chapters and sending text updates about my reading the whole way, which I'm sure amused her. The music is covered gorgeously, but this book about a certain set of people, the world around them, it's fragile or unbreakable faith, and the groups of people which make up that land, and it managed to balance and weaves these all together in unexpected ways I deeply appreciated.

Gabriel and Rachel of course steal the show in all the ways that matter, Two amazing hard-headed, stubborn, amazingly deeply feeling and quickly acting people, who actually have massive morals and deceptive choices based on invisible, unknown, histories. And how they weave into the very first tales of the Archangel and the Angelica. And how the ending is truly just perfect for these characters, and made my heart so happy. The ending alone deserves a five. ( )
  wanderlustlover | Jul 24, 2013 |
Turns out I had read a short story that takes place in this world, so the ending was pretty much spoiled--but it was still a good journey to get there. I'm not a fan of man/woman power games and deliberate humbling of people just because you can do it, so not my favorite from this author. I did, however, like the world in general (and really enjoyed that other short story!). ( )
  Krumbs | Mar 31, 2013 |
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For my aunt, Mary Krewson
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The angel Gabriel went to the oracle on Mount Sinai, looking for a wife.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441004326, Mass Market Paperback)

Set in a society founded as an egalitarian utopia but now tainted with vices and inequity, Sharon Shinn's love story is plotty and calamitous. Rachel and Gabriel have nothing in common beyond wishing that the god Jovah had ordained they wed other people, yet they must cooperate in singing a mass to the god on the occasion of Gabriel's elevation to Archangel. Upright Gabriel has enemies among both mortal and angelic peoples who prefer to risk world destruction over his restoration of the old order.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:42 -0400)

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Story about love, magic and honor.

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